Why play time REALLY matters
Not only does playing help keep cats physically fit, it also develops other capacities. For example, kittens learn important hunting and problem-solving skills through play, while adult cats further test their predatorism. Playing also teaches cats bite inhibition and helps further develop their coordination.
So plenty of benefits, but how do you actually keep your cat moving? These tips are all about making your cat’s exercise routine super fun, while also strengthening the bond between you two.
- Meet the cat-ata!
Cats like to grab hold of things that are above them. (You might’ve noticed!) This becomes doubly true if there are treats involved! So why not make them a piñata…. or rather, a cat-ata? Here’s how. Use a plastic container, such as an empty yoghurt jar. Cut a small hole in the bottom and put a handful of tasty kibbles inside. Hang it up with some string so your cat can just reach. We bet she won't stop before the goodies fall out. Tasty and…hello new muscles!
Need inspiration? Here are some great, home-made cat-atas:
- Start with two cats
While a dog is reliably keen to play with its owner, a cat is less likely to respond to game requests. If you can’t draw them into play, how can you get your cat the exercise they need? Double the trouble! Cats that get along well love nothing more than chasing and playing with each other, which is a great calorie burner. Mission accomplished!
- Take it up a level
A cat tower gives your cat plenty of room to play, hang, jump and clamber. The more floors and shelters, the more challenging and fun. Hide a few kibbles and let her prove her detective skills to you. You’ll also notice your cat loves sitting at the top of the tower, playing the king of the jungle and keeping a close eye on the surroundings. A-weema-weh!
- How agile is your cat
An assault course can provide lots of exercise and fun. It’s best to start easily and build up to more challenging tasks. Here’s an idea to start: cut the bottom of a bag and turn it on its side. Place a treat at one end and encourage your cat to walk through.
Want to make it a bit more exciting? Use a hoop instead of a bag. Place a treat or toy on the far side and train your cat to walk through it. Over time, you can keep moving the hoop and the treat higher and higher. An ideal test to see if your cat is a daredevil!
- The power of lasers
Cats chasing lasers is an internet classic. And for good reason. If you don’t mind teasing your cat, a laser pointer will bring hours of entertainment - for both you and your feline friend. Check out this compilation if you need a bit more persuading...
Important: cats must be satisfied with their hunt. That means it’s important they catch and feel the prey under their paws. Instead of letting the red dot disappear, continue the game with a tangible toy. For example, you can encourage your cat to "catch" the elusive ray by pausing the light on a cuddly toy and letting her feel it is ‘caught’ firmly under her paws. And of course, don’t let the beam shine directly into your cat's eyes!
It’s a good idea to play with your cat for about 10 to 15 minutes at a time. If she doesn't like it, she’ll let you know. Maybe she’s more in the mood for some love and something tasty to enjoy. Remember, these games aren’t just about keeping your cat fit, they also strengthen your bond.