What's the Best Way to Play with My Cat?

Wand toy play is great for cats.

If you have a kitten, it's probably easy to find ways to play with him and keep him active. But as your cat gets older, it's critical that you continue to keep him playing.

Play Combats Feline Stress and Boredom

In the wild, cats spend a lot of time grooming themselves and sleeping, but they also have short bursts of enormous energy expenditure when they are chasing and pouncing on prey. While our indoor cats get the grooming and sleeping time, they often don't have the opportunity to hunt.

Indoor cats can become bored and stressed when they aren't adequately exercised, both physically and mentally. Proper play can combat that.

Why Minimize My Cat's Stress?

Why is it important to find ways to minimize your cat's stress and boredom? Here are a few things stressed, bored cats tend to do:

So, as you can see, keeping your cat's stress level low is good for both of you.

What Type of Play Is Best for Cats?

The type of play that works best to exercise a cat's hunter instincts, get energy out, and decrease stress while increasing a sense of calmness is called interactive play. That means that you use a toy to mimic the behavior of a cat's natural prey—rodents or birds.

The best type of toy for interactive play with cats is a wand toy. That's because you can hold the stick and whatever is on the other end of the wand (usually a feather or piece of fabric) move erratically like a cat's prey would.

Make the wand to run away, hide behind furniture, and even freeze in fear. Just don't make it run toward the kitty because prey doesn't usually do that.

In the wild, a hunt may or may not end successfully, but your interactive playtimes should always have a happy ending for your indoor kitty. When you're ready to end the play session, let your cat catch the end of the wand toy and toss a more substantial toy for him to "catch" and "kill" with some well-placed bites and bunny kicks. Then, give your kitty some food or a tasty treat to simulate the yummy meal he'd get if he had a successful hunt.

Finally, put the wand toy away. There are two reasons for this. If you leave it out, your kitty will see it as dead prey and lose interest in it. Also, if your cat does try to play with it by himself, it could be a limb entrapment, strangulation, or GI foreign body hazard.

Other Toys for Cats

In addition to interactive play, be sure you have other types of toys available for your kitty too. Catnip and honeysuckle toys are great, as are balls with bells in them.

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