There’s not much that’s cuter than a cat playing with their favorite toy. From tiny kittens to distinguished older cats, they love to play and we love to watch them. Playing with your cat can seem like a pretty simple task, but not all cats play alike. You can use these tips to make playtime a more fulfilling time for you and your cat, whether you are a first-time cat owner or a feline veteran.
Safety is always first. Some cats will play with nearly everything they can find, whether or not it’s safe for them. Be sure to inspect every toy for loose threads, breakable parts, or bits that can be swallowed accidentally. Don’t forget to make sure that the toy is safe for you too; letting Fluffy nibble on your earrings is probably not a great choice. Many behaviorists suggest against using your hands as a toy as it can encourage cats to nip and scratch them.
Cats respond to different stimuli. Just like humans, cats have individual preferences for what kinds of toys they prefer. Some like toys with jingling bells or crinkly cellophane inside. Other cats go crazy for any toys with a lot of motion or parts that dangle. Some prefer lots of different toys and others like only one type. Spend some time finding out what things make your cat perk up, and you’ll have a better chance of finding a game that they love. A cat wand with detachable ends, such as the Neko Flies wand is an inexpensive way to vary the toys you use with your cat.
Mix it up. The same repeated motion or sound can quickly become boring to your cat. Try waving a cat toy in different patterns, tossing toys down stairs or across a room, and swap out toys occasionally to keep the experience exciting. Vary the speeds with which you flip their kitty wand or drag their toy across the carpet.
Use what you have. Cat toys don’t have to be expensive! In fact, many cat owners claim that their pet’s favorite toys are ones that they have found around the house. Toilet paper tubes, empty boxes, large plastic milk caps, and other household items are some favorite inexpensive toys. Recycle old clothing and other items into cheap and fun cat toys.
Go robotic. Playtime doesn’t have to stop when you’re tired. Automated, interactive toys can often be turned on and left to amuse your cat when you just can’t play anymore. They’re also great for entertainment while you are not home. Some examples of interactive toys are the Panic Mouse, Bolt Laser Toy and the Fling-ama-String which are designed to improve your cat’s mental health and keep them active.
Cycle out your toys. Cats naturally become disinterested with the same old toys. If your cat seems bored with what they have, consider setting those toys aside for a little while rather than throwing them out. After some time has passed, cycle out their current toys with ones that they played with in the past. Chances are, a few months away from their old favorites can remind them of how fun they really were.