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Tips From An Oshawa, ON Veterinarian: Playing With Your Cat

January 15 2024

Does your kitty sometimes make you laugh by batting a bottle cap or cotton swab across the floor? Cats manage to be cute no matter what they’re doing, but they are extra adorable when they are feeling playful and frisky. As it turns out, pouncing and running are very important for your kitty. A local Oshawa, ON vet offers some tips on playing with your cat in this article. 

Do Cats Like It When You Play With Them? 

Fluffy can be opinionated and a bit confusing at times. However, while our feline pals may have very different opinions on some things, almost all of them enjoy playing. 

Is It OK To Play With My Cat? 

Playing with your cat isn’t just okay: it’s actually recommended. Playing is a great way to keep that motor going! We all know that kitties are very frisky and playful when they are young. Keeping your pet entertained and active can go a long way towards helping her feel safe and loved! This can also be a fun way for you to unwind after a long day. 

You really can’t force cats to do anything, though. If your pet isn’t feeling it, she’ll just walk away. 

What Are The Benefits Of Playing With My Cat? 

Playing is beneficial for our feline pals in several ways.  If you have a kitten, playing will help your pet burn off those zoomies. This can be quite helpful. If you tire your furry pal out chasing that red dot, she’ll probably be ready for a nap after. (If Fluffy tends to wake you up by pouncing on your toes, you may find that this helps curb those midnight zoomies.)

Playing also helps with bonding. When you take time to hold that string toy or laser pointer, Fluffy will know that you’re interacting with her and trying to entertain her. That will definitely score you some purrs!

For shy cats, playing can also help them feel safe. It can even boost confidence. Nailing a tricky pounce/jump combo can help Fluffy build self-esteem. Think of this as the feline equivalent of scoring a goal or acing a test. 

Playtime is good for older cats as well. For one thing, it helps them stay in shape. It can also help ward off cognitive decay. Those run/jump/pounce combos are rather like doing a crossword puzzle.

There are benefits for you as well! Spending time with your feline pal can help relax you, and ease stress. In fact, studies have shown that interacting with kitties can help reduce our risk of strokes and heart attack. 

How Often Should I Play With My Cat? 

Ideally, we would recommend playing with Fluffy daily. This is quite easy to work into even a busy schedule. Just keep a few kitty toys near the spot where you like to settle in to watch TV or read, and work it into your relaxation time. 

How Can I Play With My Cat?

Fluffy hasn’t yet gotten tired of pouncing on catnip mice, but that is by no means the only game she knows. Kitties actually vary quite a bit when it comes to their favorite games. Some prefer batting at wand toys, some like little balls, and others enjoy high-tech gadgets. Experiment with different things to see what Fluffy prefers.

Here are a few options you can try: 

  • Fetch: While we usually associate playing Fetch with Fido, some of our feline pals also enjoy this. It’s purrticularly popular with the Bengal, Siamese, and other Asian/exotic breeds. (Fun fact: researchers recently discovered that Fluffy often teaches herself to play Fetch. One survey found that the majority of people whose kitties fetch apparently started this behavior randomly.) 
  • Tricks: While your mileage may vary, some cats can learn tricks. Try teaching Fluffy Gimme Five, Sit, Roll Over, Or Jump. Use small, high-value treats to reinforce the behavior. Be sure to use the same words or phrases every time! 
  • High-Tech Fun: There are now quite a few gadgets for kitties. Fluffy may enjoy chasing a remote-controlled mouse or a smart toy that responds to her movements. You can even play with your feline pal remotely. Some automated laser pointers work with apps and smartphones, allowing you to control the toy even when you aren’t home. This can be a cute way to check in with your pet during your lunch break. 
  • Mazes: Kitties love exploring. You can make your pet a little labyrinth pretty easily. You can use cardboard boxes, such as the ones that canned beverages come in. Another option is to use paper grocery bags with the bottoms cut off. Or, get a few pet tunnels and rearrange them. 

How Can I Tell If My Cat Is Playing Or Attacking Me? 

One of the many purrplexing things about our feline pals is the fact that they can be, well, a bit temperamental. Fluffy has a rather unique quirk, in that she is the only one of our animal companions that sometimes bites and scratches us to show affection. 

This can be a bit confusing, especially given that cats can change gears from play mode to attack mode and back at any moment, and without warning. 

For the most part, a kitty that is feeling playful won’t bite or scratch hard. She may ‘kick scratch you,’ but she’ll probably quickly lose steam. And while she may flatten her ears or lash her tail, she may suddenly decide to lick you instead of biting.  A cat that is truly angry will bite full force, and may hiss or growl. Ask your Oshawa, ON veterinarian for more information. 

How Do I Teach My Pet To Play Nice?

If your feline pal hasn’t quite figured out the ins and outs of being a good kitty, you may need to guide her. Don’t punish Fluffy for attacking you: that may just frighten her. However, you don’t want to let biting or scratching go unaddressed, either. This can lead to behavioral issues, and can even be dangerous. Those tiny claws and teeth are sharp enough to cause injuries. 

If your cat bites or scratches, immediately stop playing. You can reprimand her vocally in a stern tone of voice. Say ‘No’ or ‘Play Nice’. You can also tell Fluffy ‘Don’t bite’ or ‘Put your claws away.’ Then, walk away and ignore her for a while. Sooner or later, your furry friend will get the hint.

If your pet persists, you can further discourage her. Never strike or yell at her, though. Annoying her is a much better tactic. Squirt her with water, blow in her face, or make a loud noise. You can also sound an alarm, clap your hands, bang a pot together. Cats tend to hate loud noises. (It probably isn’t a surprise that kitties like their kingdoms nice and quiet, given that they spend roughly 99.9 percent of their time sleeping.) 

It may help to use toys you control from a distance. Just put string toys up after each use, so Fluffy doesn’t get tangled.

Help! My Cat Wants To Play All The Time!

Kitties pack a lot of personality into small, furry bodies. Some of our feline overlords want to be held or petted 24/7. And while many of us would love to oblige, we do have other obligations, such as jobs and families. 

If Fluffy is really full of zoomies, offer her ways to entertain herself. A window seat with a good view is one option. You’ll also want to offer a variety of toys. Things like puzzle feeders or cat wheels can be a great option for a frisky cat.

Do you have questions about caring for or playing with your cat? Contact us, your Oshawa, ON  animal hospital, today! 

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