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Playing With Your Cat

August 1, 2023

Our feline friends are very fun little pets. Fluffy is quite frisky, and she’s absolutely adorable when she’s hard at play. Taking time to play with your furry friend regularly will actually benefit her both mentally and physically. However, there are a few do’s and don’ts to consider here. A veterinarian offers some advice on playing with Fluffy in this article by Hassayampa Veterinary Services, serving Wickenburg and the surrounding communities. 

Try New Things

Cats all have their own unique tastes. One furball may love chasing the red dot from a laser pointer, while another may just yawn at it. Experiment with different toys.

Pick Up Wand Toys

Many kitties love playing with string toys. Just pick these up once you’ve finished playing. Fluffy could get entangled playing with a string toy when there’s no one around. 

Make It Routine

Kitties are definitely creatures of habit. If you pay attention, you’ll notice that Fluffy probably sticks to a pretty set schedule for her 12 daily meals, 42 naps, and four meditation sessions. Try to play with your furry buddy at roughly the same time each day. This will also give your pet something to look forward to.

Don’t Tolerate Rough Play

Cats are hunters by nature. Fluffy takes her ‘lioning’ practice quite seriously, and may scratch or bite you. If she bites lightly or bats you playfully with her paw, but doesn’t use force or extend her claws, she’s just being silly. However, if she truly attacks, it’s a different story. Nip that habit in the bud! Don’t punish your feisty feline. Just reprimand her verbally in a stern, disapproving tone of voice, and then walk away.

Don’t Play Favorites

Do you have more than one cat? Spend equal time and attention on them. Kitties can get quite jealous of one another, so showing favoritism in playtime can cause or escalate tensions. 

Keep It Up

As Fluffy ages, she’ll slow down, and she’ll tire out more quickly than she used to. However, that doesn’t mean you should stop playing with her. In fact, playing is great for older kitties. Your feline buddy may not last long, but that’s okay. Even a few minutes a day will be beneficial for her.

Our Advice on Playing With Your Cat in 2024

Why is it important to experiment with different toys for your cat?

Experimenting with different toys for your cat is important because each cat has unique preferences and instincts. Offering a variety of toys helps identify what stimulates your cat, keeping playtime engaging and fun. This variety not only caters to their natural hunting instincts but also prevents boredom and promotes physical and mental health. Finding the right toys can enhance your cat’s agility, provide necessary exercise, and strengthen the bond between you and your pet. It ensures their playtime is both enjoyable and enriching, catering to their individual personality and needs.

How should you respond if your cat bites or scratches you too hard during play?

If your cat bites or scratches too hard during play, it’s crucial to respond calmly and immediately to discourage this behavior. Avoid physical punishment, as it can lead to fear or aggression. Instead, say “no” in a firm, stern tone, and then cease playtime by walking away. This teaches your cat that rough play results in the end of fun interactions. Consider redirecting their energy to toys that allow them to simulate hunting without making direct contact with your hands or feet, reinforcing positive play habits.

How long should a single playtime session be for a cat?

A single playtime session for a cat should ideally last about 10 to 15 minutes. This duration allows cats to engage fully in their natural hunting instincts and physical activity without becoming overexerted. However, it’s important to observe your cat’s behavior during play; some may show signs of tiring earlier, while others might remain engaged longer. Adjusting the length of playtime to match your cat’s energy level and interest ensures the activity remains enjoyable and beneficial for their physical and mental health.

Are there certain types of toys that are particularly good for encouraging exercise?

Yes, certain types of toys are particularly effective in encouraging exercise for cats. Wand toys or fishing pole toys, which mimic the movement of prey, are excellent for promoting jumping, pouncing, and chasing. Laser pointers can also stimulate running and hunting behavior, though it’s important to conclude play with a tangible toy to prevent frustration. Interactive toys, such as balls or motorized mice, engage a cat’s natural hunting instincts, encouraging active play. These toys help maintain physical health, enhance agility, and provide mental stimulation.

How can you play with your cat in a way that mimics their natural hunting instincts?

To play with your cat in a way that mimics their natural hunting instincts, use toys that resemble prey, such as wand toys with feathers or small, furry mice. Engage in play that allows your cat to stalk, pounce, and capture the toy, providing them with the opportunity to practice these innate behaviors. Vary the speed and direction of the toy to simulate the unpredictability of real prey. This type of play satisfies their hunting drive, keeps them physically active, and enhances their mental well-being. Remember to allow your cat to “catch” the toy frequently to prevent frustration.

Do you have questions about caring for your cat? Please contact us at Hassayampa Veterinary Services, your local animal clinic, serving Wickenburg and the surrounding communities.

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