Cats can be very independent; however, they have a big need for play!
Ideally you should play with your cat for at least 15 minutes twice a day, however the more play the better! Depending on the age, breed and health of your cat will depend on how much, the type and the style of play they will need. Some cats love playing, others love snoozing, use trial and error to help figure out how much and what type of play is best for your individual cat.
Here are a few reasons why cat play is important:
- Health – Playing with your cat can encourage them to be active and keep healthy. Play will help them to maintain their weight and keep all their bones, joints and muscles, strong and healthy. It can also help reduce stress, play can mentally and physically stimulate them and in turn stop boredom, depression and stress.
- Socialisation and bonds – By playing with your cat it can help you both build trust and a relationship. Not interacting with your cat could make them lose interest in you and may cause behavioural issues. Playing with your cat will show them you care for them and can help you both connect with each other. Also, if you have multiple cats play is a good way to help them socialise with each other, it helps both their communication and social skills with each other.
- Behaviour – When cats are bored or stressed, they will carry out undesirable behaviours such as scratching furniture, biting people and breaking items. Playing can help prevent these unwanted behaviours and help them behaviour correctly.
- Learning and development – Especially with kittens, play can help coordination, physical development and help them learn instinctual behaviours. Instinctual behaviours include; stalking, pouncing and biting which in the wild cats would use for hunting but at home these behaviours are best kept for play time!
Now we know why play is important, let’s look at some ways we can provide play for our cat to keep them happy and healthy:
- Toys – Stores have various toys suitable for cats including moving mice, lasers and fishing poles. You could also make your own toys by using things like pom poms, toilet rolls and boxes.
- Climbing towers – Cats are brilliant climbers and a cat tower is a great way for your cat to release energy and keep healthy and strong by stretching and climbing. The design of cat towers can help your cat feel safe by providing places to hide and high platforms to keep away from everything happening.
- Scratching posts – A scratching post can help cats stretch out their body’s and help their impulses of scratching. Scratching on a rough surface can also keep your cats nail in shape by filing them down, which helps keep your furniture safe and prevents broken claws and injury.
- Puzzle games – These types of games are brilliant at mentally stimulating your cat, using their paws they can lift and move different parts of the puzzles to retrieve treats!
- Training – Training your cat commands and tricks is a great way to create a bond with your cat, as well as keeping your cat mentally stimulated. It’s important to keep these training sessions short and use positive reinforcement to ensure you cat feels happy and safe. Examples of training ideas include; desensitising your cat to health checks, getting their attention, placing them in a cat carrier.
- Play with your cat daily.
- Provide a variety of types and styles of play to keep them stimulated.
- Always clear up after play to prevent injury to your cat.
- Don’t force your cat to do something it doesn’t want to do.
- Enjoy your time interacting with your cat!