Don’t know how to play with your cat? We have created this complete guide to playing games with your cat to help cat owners enjoy playtime with their beloved pet. You will see your cat playing regularly on their own, but you can get involved with their play and also provide them with a few toys to play with.
Here is our complete guide to games to play with your cat.
Why is play important?
Play is an important part of a pet cat’s life, because it mimics behaviours they would display in the wild and enables them to build on their natural instincts. Play can be very enjoyable for both owners and cats, and it’s a fantastic way to increase your bond. Cats can be extremely entertaining when they are playing as they pounce, jump and chase after their favourite toys.
Cats also need to play on a regular basis to provide them with the mental and physical stimulation they require. Kittens need to play in order to improve their coordination and aid their development, so it’s important that they start playing from a young age.
Cats will often play when they don’t have much else to do. Play helps to relieve boredom and keep your cat busy. If they have had some play time then they will be less likely to be destructive, because their energy has been directed elsewhere.
Play is also important for cats because it helps them to stay fit and healthy and provides them with some exercise. Cats can easily become overweight if they do not get enough exercise (play is especially important for house cats who don’t leave the home). Dawn and dusk (early in the morning or late in the evening) are the best times to play with your cat as this is when they are the most active.
If you are a new cat owner and aren’t sure where to start with cat games or you need some inspiration then this article will give you some ideas.
You can also make toys and use everyday objects to play with your cat, as long as they don’t have attachments or parts that could fall off and your cat could swallow.
Cats will quite happily play with things like cardboard boxes, feathers, cotton reels and balls. However, they do get bored quite quickly so it’s worth swapping their toys on a regular basis. Cats prefer certain types of toys, such as toys that move in unpredictable ways and light reflecting toys. They basically prefer toys that are similar in size and shape to their natural prey (e.g. rodents and birds). Cats adore toys that they can chase, pounce on and bat with their paws. Attaching objects to a piece of string works really well, and will keep their interest for a long time.
Cats really enjoy playing games that involve their senses, such as touch, taste, smell and sound. Any game that involves one of their sense should get them excited in no time.
There are so many different games you can play with your cat, from retrieval games to chasing games. You will be able to find a game that your cat really enjoys, you just have to try a few out to see what sort of games they enjoy the most.
Types of cat games
- Chasing games
- Scratching games
- Food and cat treat games
- Interactive games
- Hiding games
- Punce games
A few game ideas
- Rabbit – the cat grabs and object with their front paws and kicks it with their hind legs, much like how they would attack prey.
- Playing games with a ping pong ball
- Hide and seek
- Playing with a paper bag
- Playing with a cardboard box
- Play tag
- Bird games – where you wave a feather in the air and try and get your cat to leap into the air and grab it with their front paws
- Fetch (yes cats can play fetch, see YouTube for evidence)
- Chasing crumpled paper
- Chasing the light (or a laser light)
- Playing with cat toys
Types of play
Cats play in many different ways, and some cats prefer certain types of play over others. Cats will engage in self play where they play on their own either with a toy or just using their body. They will also play with other cats and animals which might involve a bit of play fighting. Some cats also really enjoy playing games that involve humans, especially their owner.
If your cat doesn’t want to play…
Don’t force your cat to pay if they don’t want to, or it could put them off playing altogether. Instead, encourage them to play regularly with different toys and using treats to lure them and reward them for interacting with their toys. Some cats have a naturally high motivation to play, they are the kind of cats that like to chase objects and don’t tire easily. Cats with a low motivation to play won’t engage much with objects around the home, might be very fussy about what type of toys they play with and have a short attention span.
- Never leave your cat unattended with a toy
- Clear away all toys after you have used them
- Only use toys that are safe for cats
- Avoid anything they might swallow