July 27, 2016
This is a huge subject with many views and ideas – The points below are just some we have found either from experience as a cat owner or tips in different articles on interesting themes and questions, such as: how to play with a cat or kitten? what do kittens like to play with? how long and what are the games to play with your cat? Our biggest and most important tip is that as a cat owner you need to learn what stimulates your cat or kitten. Each one will be different.
How the Tigga Tower Cats play at HQ!
How many of you know Maine Coons and how these cats usually play with each other – when they play in a group they will all sit back and allow one member of the group to play with the toy in question. Move the toy to the other and then the one that was playing sits back and lets another take over. Strange but fascinating to watch...
As you may or may not know we have several Maine Coons here at Tigga Towers HQ – they all love cat nip but completely ignore valerian. Two go crazy for our laser pen and will spend hours chasing it. We have two who will play fetch and one who will not only play fetch but returns it and drops at our feet. In fact she will then talk to you until you throw it again. Our cat nip toy range varies in shape and size and we have also learned some like to rest their heads on toys like our bear and have a cat nap. Others love to carry our catnip snake around and one even growls as she does this.
For some strange reason we also have someone – we have yet to see who but she regularly drowns her toy overnight in the water bowl. After several leaking dye instances we now only play with dye fast toys as cleaning a very blue water fountain out lost its appeal quite rapidly – plus we wondered if drinking blue water was good for them too?
A great cheap play toys are those balls from toddler ball pits. If you have hard floors then watch out as they crash around chasing them. More recently we have discovered our utility sink with 2-3 inches of water and a few of those balls in there – someone was having fun.
Teasers are always popular too. If younger children are playing, we select a longer wand – much safer of course. We find the type varies with each cat. Some adore feathers for obvious reasons and others love a bell and ribbons. The teasers are always locked away to keep everyone safe. Mind you we have had to change where they are stored as someone worked out how to open the bureau flap!
We suggest with teasers to buy good quality – the more you spend the better the quality – yes cats will destroy a teaser if you leave it with them of course – however you will get hours of play from the good quality ones and of course the true professionals will supply extra heads for you to change the type of play and replace ones once they have served their purpose.
Enjoy the pictures of our lot and the tips and advice below:
Why Play with Your Cat?
Play is an essential activity for cats of all ages, young and old. Not only does play encourage bonding between you and your cat or little kitten, it is also fun and mentally stimulating for your feline friend. Additionally, play prevents boredom, reduces anxiety, and is a great form of exercise. Cats are athletic creatures with incredible stamina, both mental and physical; play gives them an outlet for this energy, and gives them an opportunity to satisfy their innate hunting drive. All this makes for a happy and healthy cat!
What do kittens like to play with?
All cats should have a selection of toys, to cover all of their instinctive needs, such as, toys for chasing, toys for batting around, toys to hide inside, and toys for hunting. Some cats prefer ground hunting, while others prefer more aerial pursuits. Despite many owners providing lots of toys for their cats, these are often tucked away in a toy box, so to your cat, these toys are essentially dead prey, e.g. they don’t move. This is boring to cats, and often will not stimulate a play session. Some of the most enjoyable toys for cats are “Interactive” ones, which will usually stimulate the most intense (and satisfying!) play sessions. At Tigga Towers we always suggested removing toys and bringing them back out to play. This creates renewed interest.
What is Interactive Play?
Interactive play helps strengthen the bond between you and your cat by letting you share fun and positive experiences. The concept is simple – Interactive Play involves YOU! Interactive play is a very powerful tool, and if used correctly, the play can be great for trust building, exercise and stress relief for your cat.
This is achieved by using toys that can float, twirl, dart and fly in ways that simulate live prey. Try to create prey-like action and movement with toys, which will allow you cat to act like the athletic hunter that she was meant to be. With Wands and Teasers, you can put life into the toy, so that the target at the end of the string can wiggle, creep, fly or dart around the room, or garden. Your cat’s speed and grace will amaze you as she dashes around trying to capture the prey.
Ways to play with your cat and tips to help get your cat motivated!
Make the movement of the toys resemble prey:
How you move the interactive toy is important. Don’t wave it around frantically in order to give your cat exercise, that’s not the way cats hunt. The toys need to be moved in a way that will trigger your cat’s prey drive. One thing to remember here is that prey (e.g. rodents, birds) would not be running around (or flying) directly in front of the cat. Start by subtly quivering the toy in order to get your cats attention. Don’t keep the toy in a constant motion. Then, start to move the toy like prey by alternating between fast and slow motions; this will give your cat the time to plan the next move.
Don’t touch your cat with the toy:
The toy is supposed to be simulating a ‘real’ rodent or bird, etc, and therefore it would be very unlikely ‘in the real world’ that a rodent, or any other type of prey, would actually walk up to the cat!
To stimulate your cat and to get it entranced, move the toy away from them. Throw toys in other directions or behind things. Cats hunt by watching, hiding, stalking, waiting, and then finally pouncing on its prey. To stimulate your cat into play mode, move teasers away from the cat. Then stop the toy moving, and hold it still for a couple of seconds, and then make it quiver. You can then hide toys behind furniture. Continue to do this until your cat stalks, follows and eventually pounces on the toy. Some cats will chase and return with toys and drop by you ready to go again.
Allow your cat to taste success:
Your cat needs to have several ‘captures’ of the toy, so that they don’t get frustrated. So, allow your cat to swat the toy with it’s paw, and then allow your cat to pounce on the toy, as it would do in the wild. These ‘victories’ will serve to build your cats confidence. However, don’t make it too much of a challenge for your cat to successfully grab the toy in it’s mouth or paws – this will only end up frustrating your cat. If the cat starts to walk away with the toy and won’t let it go, give the toy some slack and let the cat enjoy the capture for a short time. Alternatively, you could give your cat a treat in order for it to release the toy. Remember… the game needs to be fun for your cat.
Always end the play session on a positive note:
When you want the game to end, slowly wind down the movements of the toy, as if the prey is getting tired. As the toy gets slower (and eventually ‘dies’ in your cat’s eyes), your cat will start to relax thinking that she has accomplished a grand capture! Let your cat experience the thrill of victory – it will make them want to play again, another day.
It’s a good idea to end the play session by giving your cat a few tasty treats; this is what would happen in the wild ……. they would stalk, chase, ambush, kill and then eat their prey! By giving your cat a tasty morsel at the end of the game will not only signify the end of the play session, but will also help your cat to feel accomplished.
Finally, How long should i play with my cat?
Maintain a regular schedule of interactive play, so that your cat has consistency. As guideline, schedule playtime for once or twice a day for about 10-15 minutes per session.
You will be amazed at what a 15-minute interactive play session can do for your cat’s physical and emotional health!
Important: All the interactive toys and teasers should be put away and out of the cats reach when the play sessions are over. This is to protect your cat from injury and to make sure that the toys keep their strong appeal. Catnip kickers are best stored in sealed plastic containers. When you take these toys out to play stimulate the cat nip by cracking the toy – Scrunching it up and you will notice a fresh soft odour of catnip again so the toy is ready for play.
There are many types of toys and teasers on the market. Different sizes, shapes, colours and smell / texture. Learn what your cat loves best and how they like to play. Not every cat will react to Catnip or noise from crinkle toys as roughly a third of cats lack the autosomal gene which makes them susceptible to catnip and silvervine. Some cats adore catnip but hate valerian and vice versa.
Did you know you can wash cat nip toys – of course the catnip will wash away BUT a quick spritz with a good quality catnip spray will restore it completely.
This blog is a combination of articles written with a little good old fashioned cat owner experience thrown in.