How to Keep Playtime Fun for Your Cat


You may know this scenario: Playing with your cat used to be a piece of cake. You’d pick up a toy, any toy, and toss it along the floor. Your kitty would chase after the toy, swat it, pounce on it, and generally amuse himself. He and you would get a lot out of one throw. But these days, you get much more exercise than your cat when you try to initiate playtime. You repeatedly throw the catnip mouse and fetch it, while your kitty watches. What happened to the fun times?

Why Is Your Cat Playing Less?

There are a number of possible factors that could diminish your cat’s interest in playing:

Is the Overall Home Environment Conducive to Cat Fun and Exploration?

You may be thinking, “I need to get some new toys . . . or think up some new techniques to get my kitty to play more,” and while you may be right, and we’ll get to those topics, let’s look first at some steps you can take to engage your cat’s mind and creative sense between play sessions.

Does your home have interesting sights and smells from a kitty’s point of view? Just as we add artwork, backyard gardens, and potpourri to enhance our experience at home, we can do the same for our cats.

Bird Feeders and Baths

A bird feeder and birdbath, dutifully filled and maintained and in plain view from a window, can be an endless source of pleasure for your cat, not to mention the birds. To avoid frequent frustration for both cat and birds, make sure the feeding and water stations are not too close to the window. In other respects, determine proper placement of the feeder and bath to maximize their value to the birds, so that the birds and kitty get the most out of the arrangement.

Bags and Boxes

Paper bags and cardboard boxes are two items of modern life that are in abundance, usually free, and easy to come by. They are also versatile, classic “objects of interest” to felines.

Cats like to sit in paper bags.

Most cats cannot resist at least checking out a paper bag lying on its side; chances are your cat will, at minimum, poke his head inside and take a cursory look. He is also likely to step completely inside, turn around, and wait for you to remark that “kitty is nowhere in sight” before deciding that it’s time to let the stealthy cat out of the bag and surprise you. For added stability, tear the top corners of the bag and make a one-inch cuff before laying it on its side. You can also upgrade the comfort level of the bag by lining the bottom, once it’s on its side, with a towel.

Hardware stores often sell large paper bags for outdoor waste. These heavyweight bags are about four feet in height—or rather, length, once tipped on their sides. They’re long enough so that you can use a scissors to add a window or side entrance. Your kitty may be fascinated by these bags, which are more like mini-caves, at least for a while. Don’t be surprised if he occasionally decides to take a snooze in them.

For safety, snip or remove any handles on bags to which your kitty has access and never use plastic bags.

There are many ways you can use cardboard boxes to entertain cats. They’re possibly the best bargain in the world for anyone living with a cat: free, easy to procure, recyclable, rugged, and multi-purpose. Nearly any office or store has extra cardboard boxes, and of course everything is shipped in cardboard. Here is a partial list of how you can use a cardboard box to enrich your cat’s life and spark his curiosity:

Kittens are curious and like to hide in bags.

Tips to Upgrade the Interactive Play Experience for Your Cat

There’s no substitute for interactive play. It’s not much fun for a cat to “chase” a stationary object. You bring the toy to life, and this makes all the difference.

When a catnip mouse is lying on the floor, your kitty has to swat it to make it scurry across the room. Not only is this extra work but it largely removes the element of surprise and challenge for your cat. It’s much more exciting when the toy, through your throws, tosses, and other guiding actions, seems to move on its own, in a prey-like manner.

Here are some hints on how to bring out your cat’s “inner kitten” during interactive play sessions:

Investing in Play for Your Cat Yields Multiple Benefits

Author and cat behavior expert Pam Bennett-Johnson calls cats’ playing “serious fun.” And Shakespeare said “The play’s the thing,” They’re both right. Daily play can help your cat become more fit, maintain a healthy weight, stay mentally sharp, increase confidence, and avoid boredom and depression. An ounce of prevention through regular play sessions is worth a pound of cure, and it may take off a pound of fat. By putting the spark back in your cat’s playtime activities, he will enjoy numerous benefits and you’ll have a healthier and happier feline friend.

You May Also Like These Articles:

How to Play With Your Cat- Part One

How to Play With Your Cat- Part Two

Clever DIY Cat Toys

Play Aggression in Cats

Why Do Cats Like Boxes?

Cat Weight Loss: How You Can Help Your Cat Lose Weight

Stress in Cats

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