Does your kitty sometimes entertain herself by batting a bottle cap or cotton swab across the floor? Cats are always adorable, but they somehow manage to be even cuter than usual when they are feeling playful and frisky. In this article, a local Rialto, CA veterinarian offers some tips on playing with your cat.
Are There Benefits To Playing With My Cat?
Playing isn’t just a great way to keep that motor going: it’s also a great, fun workout for Fluffy! However, there are other benefits as well.
Here are a few of the ways that playing is good for your feline pal:
Instinctive Needs: It’s good for your pet to unleash her inner lioness sometimes, and indulge those deeply ingrained instincts to pounce and scratch. Our feline friends are hunters by nature, so they’re naturally inclined to master all those claws and teeth. Kitties depend on them for their survival in the wild!
Love And Happiness: Keeping your pet entertained and active can also help her feel safe and loved. Fluffy will know you’re interacting with her and trying to entertain her. That will definitely earn you some purrs.
Burn Excess Energy: Another benefit to playing with your feline pal? It will help your kitten burn off those zoomies. This can be quite helpful. After a few vigorous rounds of chasing that red dot, your furry pal will probably be ready for a nap. You may find that this curbs those midnight play sessions. If Fluffy tends to pounce on your toes in the middle of the night, try tiring her out with playtime before bed.
Build Confidence: Playing can also help shy kitties. A tricky pounce/jump combo can help Fluffy build self-esteem. Think of it as the feline equivalent of scoring a goal or scoring an A on a test.
Bonding: Playing is good for bonding as well. Do you have more than one cat? Playing with them together can go a long way toward helping them make friends. Just don’t play favorites!
Physical And Mental Health: There are benefits for senior cats as well. In addition to keeping older cats physically fit, playtime helps them stay mentally sharp. Those run/jump/pounce combos are rather like doing crossword puzzles for your furry retiree.
(Bonus) Relaxation: This is also a good way for you to wind down after a long day. Spending time with your feline pal can also help you relax, and ease stress. In fact, studies have shown that interacting with kitties can help reduce stroke and heart attack risk.
How Often Should I Play With My Cat?
Our recommendation would be to play with Fluffy every day. This is quite simple to work into a busy schedule. Just keep a few kitty toys near where you like to relax while watching TV or reading.
What Do I Do If My Cat Wants To Play All The Time?
Just like people, cats all have their own purrsonas. Some are quite calm and relaxed. Others are furry little tornados on paws. Fluffy may want us to pet, play with, and cuddle her all day, every day. While many of us would love to oblige, we have other duties, such as jobs and families.
If Fluffy is full of zoomies, give her ways to entertain herself. A window seat with a good view is one option. Offer her a variety of toys as well, such as puzzle feeders or cat wheels.
How Do I Play With My Cat?
Pouncing on catnip mice is fun for cats, but it’s not the only game Fluffy knows. Kitties actually differ quite a bit on their preferences here. Some prefer to bat at wand toys, others like little balls, and others like high-tech gadgets. Experiment with different things to see what your kitty likes.
Here are a few things you can try:
Fetch: While we usually associate playing Fetch with Fido, some of our feline pals also enjoy this game. Bengal, Siamese, and other Asian/exotic breeds tend to enjoy it the most. (Fun fact: One survey found that the majority of people whose cats fetch start this behavior at random.)
Tricks: Did you know that cats can learn tricks? Try teaching Fluffy Gimme Five, Sit, Roll Over, Or Jump. Use small, high-value treats to reinforce the desired behavior. Say the same words or phrases each time.
Hi-Tech Toys: There are now quite a few gadgets for kitties. Fluffy might love chasing a smart toy that responds to her movements. You can even play with your feline pal remotely. For instance, there are laser pointers that work with apps and smartphones. This can be a cute way to check in with your pet during your lunch break.
Mazes: Kitties love exploring. You can make Fluffy a kitty labyrinth pretty easily. You can use cardboard boxes, such as those that come with canned drinks. You can also use paper grocery bags with the handles and bottoms cut off.
How Can I Tell If My Cat Is Playing Or Attacking Me?
There are many purrplexing things about our feline pals. This is another one. Fluffy is the only one of our animal friends that bites and scratches us to show affection. Kitties also have a tendency to switch gears between play mode and attack mode without warning.
When a cat is feeling playful, they won’t bite or scratch very hard. If Fluffy kicks or scratches you playfully, she may flatten her ears or lash her tail, but she’ll probably lose steam pretty quickly. She may also suddenly decide to lick you instead of biting you.
In addition to biting full force, angry cats may hiss or growl. They may also flatten their ears, and they won’t hold back. This may be a sign of a behavioral issue, or in some cases, a medical problem. For more information, contact your Rialto, CA veterinarian.
How Do I Teach My Pet To Play Nice?
It may be necessary for you to guide your cat if she hasn’t quite figured out how to be a good kitty. Don’t punish Fluffy for attacking you: that may just scare her. Of course, you also don’t want to let biting or scratching go unaddressed. This can lead to behavioral issues. Plus, it can be dangerous. Those tiny claws and teeth are sharp enough to cause injuries!
If your feisty feline bites or scratches, stop kitty playtime immediately. Reprimand Fluffy vocally in a stern tone of voice by saying ‘No’ or ‘Play Nice’. You can also tell Fluffy to ‘Don’t bite’ or ‘Put your claws away.’ Use the same words or phrases every time. Then walk away and ignore her. Your furry friend will get the message sooner or later.
If that doesn’t work, you may need to ‘explain’ a bit more. Don’t strike or yell at your pet if she persists. Mildly annoying her is a much better tactic. Squirt water in her face, blow in her face, or make a loud noise. You can sound an alarm, clap your hands, or bang a pot. Cats tend to hate loud noises. (Considering that kitties spend 99.9 percent of their time sleeping, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that they prefer their kingdoms to be fairly quiet.)
It may also help to use toys that you can control from a distance. Store string toys after each use, though: you don’t want your kitty getting tangled up.
Contact us, your Rialto, CA animal hospital, today if you have questions about caring for or playing with your cat!