Out in nature, wild cats have to use nearly every moment of their day to hunt for food. Our co-pilots inside don’t have this worry, so what do they do with all their time? Maybe scratch the furniture? Wreck the curtains? Run crazy through your home at 3 a.m.? Just because our cats have an easier lifestyle doesn’t mean they don’t still have the energy of their friends outside, and free-roaming kitties can be a danger to themselves and the local wildlife. While leash training works as well, you may not be up for standing and watching your cat sniff the same bush for 10 or more minutes. Playing with your cat can get out the “hunting” energy and build a bond with your cat all from the comfort of your home. From kittens to super seniors, all cats want to play; many just have diverse needs and the length of time they can play. Some cat toys are good when they are by themselves, but the best ones usually have their human co-pilot on the other end!

Here we hope to give you some ideas to get your kitty going and tire them out while having as much fun with your kitty as possible.

How to play with your cat

While asking “how to play” might seem silly, playing for cats is different from playing for dogs. Your cat may run after a ball, but once they realize it won’t move, they will likely get bored. Successful play means pretending to be prey, to get the urge to stalk and pounce going. A lot of cats love teaser and wand toys for this reason as you are the prey for them! With that, standing still and wiggling the string does not resemble a mouse much. It will require a little bit more action on your part. Try taking the toys and hiding them or dragging a string toy slowly around the corners of couches or beds. Pretend to be a little mouse for your cat and you will see the predator come out! Even 15 minutes of play can begin to tire out your kitty. Some cats also like to take breaks to just watch the toy. So, if your cat was chasing a toy but then stopped, they may still be hunting, just not as actively. Keep being the prey and they will be back up and going!

Another way you can play with your cat with less activity on your part is to hide treats around a room and let your kitty go on a hunting spree. This will reward their curious behavior and make them use their brain to get food! Lots of kitties enjoy looking for snacks and you can get creative with where and how you hide them. Plenty of toys can help you with this as well as easy ways to make your own. Your cat has hunting instincts built into them that need to be expressed for them to be happy and be on their best behavior. Some people say cats are “easy” since you don’t “need to play with them”, which couldn’t be farther from the truth! Playing with your cat will increase your bond, tire your kitty out to prevent nighttime zoomies, and build their confidence as a hunter!

Playing with your cat has so many benefits, and who doesn’t love a cute kitty playing with their toys?