Play is an important activity for cats; it provides exercise, mental stimulation and bonding with their pet parent. The best way to get your cat to play with you is by provoking their instinct to hunt. Anything that prompts them to chase, pounce, or catch will pique their interest.
A popular toy is a wand toy, which has a toy feather, bird or mouse on the end of a string attached to a longer wand. These types of toys are great for simulating hunting birds or mice. Use 360 degrees of space around the cat encourages them to jump, chase, or play hide and seek.
When cats hunt, they will prowl and then pounce on their prey; the prey will either play dead or run away. Mimic this with the wand toy to keep the cat intrigued. About 15 minutes is a good amount of time to keep them going, then make sure you end the play session with the cat catching the toy.
Toys don’t have to be store-bought either, crinkled up paper can be a delight for cats as it moves so unpredictably, like an insect. Roll it across the floor so they can chase it and pounce! You can even teach them to fetch by rewarding them with a treat when they return it to you.
A favourite toy for cats is a TEMPTATIONS™ Snacky Mouse™ toy, which you fill with cat treats, then the cat bobbles the toy to get the treats out. Cats love solving the problem of how to get the treats out, and the reward makes it even better!
Hide and seek is another great way to play with your cat and keep them moving. Use a favourite toy or treat to entice your cat to hunt it through boxes or tunnels. Save up the boxes you get with your online orders to make a cat obstacle course in your house!
There are plenty of ways to interact with your cat, but always follow some golden rules for playing:
- Play with your cat in short 10-15-minute bursts. Cats are physiologically designed for short hunts, so mimic this with play before they wear out.
- Always reward your cat with the prey at the end of the play session. Otherwise you’ll leave them frustrated. Laser pointers are not ideal for this reason as the cat can never catch the prey.
- Never use hands as toys, as the cat will think it is okay to bite or scratch your hands and will not understand if you tell them off afterwards.
- Always make sure that cat toys are safe for your cat and are not a choking hazard.