How does your cat show you that she wants to play? Some cats meow, others bring objects or climb on their human. Or maybe your cat is more of the type that prefers to lounge in the sun instead of chasing toys? It doesn’t matter whether your cat is active or more laid-back: she will benefit if you spend a lot of time with her. We’ll tell you how long and how often you should play with your pet and give you tips on how best to entertain your cat.
Playing with the cat: how often, how long – and why at all?
Cats play from an early age and thus train their hunting instincts. The kittens learn, for example, to estimate their own speed and distances. They also train their flexibility and endurance.
Older cats have long since acquired the necessary skills. With them, you’re not entirely sure why they’re playing. Maybe they just enjoy it? However, they may also see the game session as a workout to get rid of excess energy.
The last point could be particularly true for domestic cats. Because, unlike their free-roaming counterparts, they are not out and about as much. By playing, they live out their hunting instinct and keep fit at the same time. Cats also relieve stress in this way.
By the way, you also strengthen the bond with your pet by playing together. Both indoor and outdoor cats benefit from this. And quite selfishly: It’s just a pleasure to watch the little hunters whizzing around.
How long should you play with the cat?
How long you play with your velvet paw naturally also depends on how old and how sporty your darling is. According to behavior experts, a good hour a day is ideal, as reported by the Augsburger Allgemeine.
It is best to break this period into four 15-minute intervals. On the one hand, you can better integrate these short units into your daily routine – for example while dinner is being prepared. On the other hand, the playtime fits better with the hunting behavior of cats.
These do not pursue their prey for hours, but attack quickly and precisely. So if you play for a longer period of time, your cat could get out of breath.
Set fixed playing times:
Do you sometimes forget to make fun of your cat in everyday life? That’s only human! After all, the animals also do well on their own. So that this mishap does not happen to you again, it is best to set times when you play with your darling.
Early morning or evening is ideal. Cats usually go hunting at dusk.
Why are some cats reluctant to play?
In general, younger cats are a little more open to trying to play than their older counterparts. And some kitties just have a more playful character than others. But if your cat doesn’t play with you at all, it could be because:
- They are only half-hearted about it themselves and tiredly move the toy back and forth. If you’re low on motivation, then so will your furry companion.
- You are using the wrong toy. Some fur noses are picky and only like certain things. Try some alternatives, you might find a hit.
- Be careful how you move the toy: If you approach your cat with dust bunnies and the like, it will hardly encourage it to hunt. It is better if the toy behaves like prey and “runs away” from the cat.
Adult cats, unlike kittens, do not jump immediately after every new discovery. They observe at first, waiting for the right moment to attack their prey – or toy.
What this means for you: stay calm and wait, even if your cat doesn’t immediately respond to the game prompt. Most likely, she is interested, but carefully decides when it’s time to move. Be patient and don’t give up immediately.
This will keep your cat busy for hours
If you’re looking for something fun to do with your cat, there are countless options. Here are some inspirations:
Cat toys in all variations
Toys are a classic way to socialize with your pet. Products that make noises, such as bells, crackling foil or rustling components, are particularly popular. This will definitely encourage your house cat to play.
Caution: It is best never to let your cat play with your fingers. Once the animal gets used to attacking your hands during play, it can become awkward. And finally, nobody wants scratched hands.
Dry food as a projectile
Don’t have any toys at hand? Then just use some lining. Small dry food pellets can be thrown wonderfully. Your cat can then either chase them or, with a little practice, even catch them in their mouths. Let the chunks slide over the tiles. That definitely awakens the hunting instinct!
Alternatively, you can hide a few treats in the room and let the cat look for them. A great hidden object game that can fill you a few minutes.
Use intelligence games
If you just have your hands full and can’t deal with your cat with the best will in the world, activity and intelligence games are a good idea. Your pet does not have to be looked after by you and can still pass the time in a useful way.
Feeding mats with small puzzles that your velvet paw has to solve are popular. The animals flip switches or move blocks to get to the hidden treats.