Cats are athletic creatures with amazing strength and agility. Nature made them into perfect machines for leaping, jumping, and dashing. Just because your house kitty doesn't have real prey to chase doesn't mean she can't act out her inner predator.
Why play?Toys and regular playtime are part of providing your cat with a stimulating environment, which makes for a happy and healthy cat. Play gives them an outlet for their energy, mental and physical stimulation, the opportunity to satisfy their instinctual huntingdrive, and a chance to bond with you.
What to play with?Cats are experts at amusing themselves. It takes very little—a crumpled ball of paper, a pen left on a desktop, a newspaper spread open on the floor—to engage your kitty in what, to her, is the most fascinating of games.
Your cat's imagination can turn almost anything into a wonderful toy that she'll bat around or chase to her heart's content. Typically, cats most enjoy playing with small, light objects that are "flickable," such as a cork or a Ping-Pong ball, which they can swat and then chase.
Cats also love empty paper bagsto investigate and "hide" in. Remove the handles so your cat doesn't get caught in them. He could be terrified if he's chased by a big paper bag. Empty cardboard boxes are also popular with cats.
Interactive playPlaytime isn't just for cats—it's for their people, too. Your cat's speed and grace will amaze you as she dashes about, trying to catch her "prey."
Toss a crumpled ball of paper for her to chase—she may even bring it back to you. Some cats love to "fetch" so much that they will actually initiate the game by dropping a toy in your lap for you to throw.
Some cats go wild for the little red light of a laser toy, chasing it around the floor and up the wall. The cat gets a good workout, and you don't even have to get off the couch. Just be sure never to shine the light in your cat's eyes, as it could damage them. When the game ends, offer your cat a toy to finally grab.
Do-it-yourself toysYou don't need to spend a bundle on fancy toys for your cat. In fact, many owners say that their cats ignore the store-bought toys and play instead with a plastic ring from a milk container, a strip of paper, or a gift bow.
Here are some household items that make great cat toys:
- Round plastic shower curtain rings
- Ping-Pong balls and plastic practice golf balls with holes. Try putting one in a dry bathtub, as the captive ball is much more fun than one that escapes under the sofa.
- Paper bags with any handles removed. Paper bags are good for pouncing, hiding and interactive play. Plastic bags are not a good idea; many cats like to chew and swallow the plastic.
- Empty cardboard tubes from toilet paper and paper towels, made even more fun if you "unwind" a little cardboard to get them started.
- Cardboard boxes. Fasten some together and cut out doors and windows to make a fun cat condo.
- You (or your kids) may even enjoy making your own toys, such as sachets, or felt mice stuffed with catnip.
The kitty boutiqueThere's really no need to buy toys, but there are so many cute ones out there that it can be really hard to resist. Cats really enjoy toys like plastic balls, with or without bells inside, sisal-wrapped toys, which they can dig their claws into. or "fishing pole" toys consisting of a long rod with a length of cord attached that has an enticing lure at the end.
If you're going to buy any cat toys, you might need to cat-proof them, too. Remove ribbons, feathers, strings, tinsel, eyes or other small decorations that your cat could chew off and swallow. Also, keep any toys that could be harmful to your cat out of reach when you can't supervise her play.
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