Play isn't just for kittens; adult cats enjoy play too! Play strengthens your bond with your cat and provides them with needed mental stimulation and physical exercise.Cats are predators, and play time can be like a hunting game for them. Play can be interactive, which involves you moving toys to simulate prey for your cat. Play can also be solo, where your cat plays with toys on their own.
Interactive toys usually feature a fishing pole design, with a toy dangling on the end of a string or wire. When playing with your cat, move the toy to imitate prey, as if it was trying to get away from the hunter. Don't dangle the prey right in your cat's face. On the other hand, don't make it too hard for your cat to catch the toy, especially when you are just starting out. You want your cat to have successes catching the toy so that the play is fun and rewarding.
Cats also benefit from solo play. There are many types of cat toys designed for solo play. The most common types are ping pong balls, catnip toys, food dispensing toys, and fuzzy mice. They should be light enough for kitty to bat around since they will have to"bring them to life" by themselves. Toys should be mentally stimulating and switched out regularly to prevent boredom.
Hands Are Never Toys: Never play roughly with your cat, wrestle with them, or move your hands or feet so that your cat chases them. It is very important whenever you are playing with any cat to use a toy instead (for additional information, please refer to handout Cat Toys and Play).
Never teach your cat that body parts are toys to be hunted, bitten or scratched. When playing with your cat, don't jerk away from your cat or vocalize high pitched sounds. This is how prey responds to an attack and this can trigger aggression. Never physically punish your cat. At best, this teaches your cat to fear you, and at worst, your cat can be seriously injured.
This document created by the San Francisco SPCA with a grant from Maddie's Fund®