Playing with Your Cats – Every Day


Playing with your cats every day may seem like an exercise in futility, but it’s actually an important part of their overall health. There’s an often-heard misconception that adult cats don’t play or don’t like to play. While it is true that adult cats are (usually) less rambunctious than kittens, cats of all ages can – and should – play every day. Adult cats are just a little harder to motivate than kittens. The trick is figuring out what kinds of play your cat enjoys. Once you’ve figured out what your cat likes best, you will likely discover that kitty LOVES playing!

There are many reasons why playing with your cat is important. It’s great exercise and helps fight obesity, particularly for indoor-only kitties. It helps them feel like the great hunters they know they are (whether they live up to it or not!). It relieves boredom without being destructive, and it promotes bonding between you and kitty as well as between kitties. But the best reason is really the most important: it’s FUN – for both of you!


It can be a bit frustrating at first, though, as you learn what kinds of toys and activities motivate him. Like people, all cats are a little different. While one kitty may prefer catnip-filled toys for solitary play, another may go crazy for interactive play with dangly wand toys. To make it even more confusing, some cats prefer both kinds, sometimes, if they’re in the mood. The best solution is to have a selection of cat toys that are good for different kinds of play.

Solitary play is especially important for cats that spend lots of time home alone. For this kind of play, stuffed mice (or catnip cigars!), balls with bells, and puzzle toys (including puzzle feeders) are good candidates for keeping kitty occupied and happy. Some cats may even prefer empty cardboard boxes and paper bags (a couple of mine certainly do). The important thing to remember with these toys is that your cat is smart. He’ll get bored with the same toys for days and weeks on end, so be sure you have a variety.

Interactive play is great for getting kitty really active and promoting bonding between you, but you must go at your cat’s pace and not force it. It may take some creative experimentation to figure out your cat’s favorite style of play, but once you do – you’re gold!



Dangling wand toys are usually the best for interactive play because they allow you to simulate the movements of prey (like mice…or palmetto bugs!). Kitty’s curiosity and hunting instincts are piqued by “prey” that darts, scurries and hides – or flies. This kind of play can get your cat(s) very excited and active, and, when done regularly in 10-20 minute sessions every day, can become a favorite time for them. Mine, in fact, will fetch their wand toy (the Cat Catcher) to let me know it’s time!


Here’s an important hint for playing with your cat: you need to let kitty “win” some. If not, he’ll get frustrated and stop playing with you! There are a couple of great perks to interactive play. First, kitty can get a lot of needed exercise (think aerobics!), and, second, he can do some fantastically entertaining things trying to catch the toy. One of mine jumped so high for the “flying mouse” one day, he landed in the kitchen sink!

The bottom line here is this: playing with your cat and having toys he enjoys (whether bought or home-made) is essential to good care. A happy cat is healthier, less destructive and a better companion. Isn’t that what we all want?


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