Playing with your cat is so important! Just like us, cats get bored and restless, and require active stimulation. And there is no age limit — take humans for example, we still need entertainment to keep us satisfied regardless of age, it’s not something that you ever outgrow.
Reasons to play with your cat:
- It provides exercise, which obviously comes with numerous health benefits.
- It prevents them from overeating out of boredom.
- It wares them out and helps them sleep better.
- It keeps them out of trouble.
- It makes them happy.
- And best of all, it strengthens your bond.
The question is how do you play with your cat? It’s difficult because most cat toys on the market are useless. It also becomes trickier as the cat grows older. So here are some games you can play…
The teaser game
- Materials required: A teaser wand
- How to play: Wave the teaser wand around and stimulate your cat’s hunting instincts.
- Tips: Try imitating a prey animal with wand — ex: moving around on the floor like a snake, or around in the air like a bird.
The laser game
- Materials required: A laser
- How to play: Shine the laser around the room to make your cat run back and forth.
- Tips: Play this game sparingly, as it may end up frustrating your cat. Do NOT shine in cat’s eyes — very dangerous!
- Materials required: Nothing! (Optional: spray bottle)
- How to play: Simply chase your cat around the house. Cats love to be chased!
- Tips: Make sure your cat has “safe spots” like under the couch where they can safely rest during game of chase. As long as they have a place of protection to catch their breath, this is lots of fun for them. You can use a spray bottle for added stimulation, but only if your cat is okay with it.
- Materials required: Nothing! (Optional: a long-sleeve shirt/sweatshirt)
- How to play: This game involves vigorous petting, shaking around the belly, and light pats on the back. Of course you are not trying to hurt your cat! But some cats really love this!
- Tips: Just be careful! Make sure your cat is enjoying it and not frightened by it. It will really depend on the personality of your cat. You may want to wear long sleeves in case your cat ends up scratching you due to overstimulation.
- Materials required: Nothing!
- How to play: I call this game “carry-you-me” because this is the phrase I used to use as a toddler when I wanted to be picked up and held. This game is very simple and sweet — pick up your cat and walk them around the home.
- Tips: Let your cat explore — show them places (like above the fridge or the top of the closet) where they cannot normally see, walking on the ground. Again, some cats may not like this depending on personality — if your cat is squirming the whole time, trying to escape, then this game is not for them.
The meow game
- Materials required: Nothing!
- How to play: Super simple — you don’t even have to move or touch your cat — just meow at them. It may not be the most exciting game, but it’s an easy way to provide stimulus and social interaction.
- Tips: This is great for cats who meow back, and you can just go back and forth with each other. It’s really funny.
- Materials required: Small balls/toys
- How to play: Throw balls across the room and watch your cat chase after it. They may or may not bring it back to you (most likely the latter.)
- Tips: Some cats really enjoy chasing after toys, while others may have no response. My cat (Luna) really enjoys plush balls (as opposed to plastic) because she can pick it up easily with her mouth.
- Materials required: A medium sized plushie
- How to play: Wave the plushie around their belly and encourage them to hug/kick it.
- Tips: Try using catnip spray on the plushie, or sprinkle some on top/inside of it.
As you can see, these games are super simple and most do not require any materials/toys. Simply playing with your cat for just five minutes can put them in an excitable mood for a very long time. It really helps to have more than one cat, because once you play with them enough for them to get excited, you can leave them alone and have your cats play with/entertain one another. Different personalities respond to different games, so try them all and see what works. And of course, catnip really helps!