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Playing With Your Feline Friend
January 15, 2024

Does your cat sometimes bat a bottle cap or cotton swab across the floor? This is always fun to watch. Cats are adorable no matter what they do, but they’re extra charming when they’re feeling frisky. As it turns out, all that pouncing and running are very good for your cat. In this article, a Southern Lake County, FL veterinarian offers some tips on how to play with Fluffy.

The Benefits Of Playing With Cats

Playing isn’t just fun for Fluffy: it’s also very good for her. In fact,  playing with your pet will 

benefit her in several ways: 

Here are some of the key ones:

Instinctive Needs: Our feline friends are hunters by nature, so they’re naturally inclined to master all those claws and teeth. It’s good for your pet to unleash her inner lioness sometimes, and indulge those deeply-ingrained instincts to pounce and scratch. Kitties depend on those skills for their survival in the wild! 

Love And Happiness: Keeping your pet entertained and active can also help her feel safe and loved. Fluffy will know you’re interacting with her and trying to entertain her. That will definitely earn you some purrs.

Bonding: Playing is good for bonding as well. Do you have more than one cat? Playing with them together can go a long way toward helping them make friends. Just don’t play favorites! 

Physical And Mental Health: There are benefits for senior cats as well. In addition to keeping older cats physically fit, playtime helps them stay mentally sharp. Those run/jump/pounce combos are rather like doing crossword puzzles.

Burn Excess Energy: Another benefit to playing with your feline pal? It will help your kitten burn off those zoomies. This can be quite helpful. After a few vigorous rounds of chasing that red dot, your furry pal will probably be ready for a nap. You may find that this curbs those midnight play sessions. If Fluffy tends to pounce on your toes in the middle of the night, try tiring her out with playtime before bed.

Build Confidence: Playing can also help shy kitties. A tricky pounce/jump combo can help Fluffy build self-esteem. Think of it as the feline equivalent of scoring a goal or scoring an A on a test.

(Bonus) Relaxation: it’s also a good way for you to wind down after a long day. Spending time with your feline pal can also help you relax and ease stress. In fact, studies have shown that interacting with kitties can help reduce stroke and heart attack risk.

Our advice? Play with your cat every day, when you can. 

Try Different Options For Playing With Your Cat

Fluffy enjoys a variety of games. Our feline buddies vary quite a bit regarding their favorite games. Some cats love batting at wand toys, some prefer little balls, and others enjoy high-tech gadgets. Experiment with different things to find out what your furry best friend likes best. The classic option here would be to hold a string toy or laser pointer for your furry pal. However, there are lots of other options.

Here are a few things you can try:

Fetching: We usually associate playing Fetch with Fido, but some of our feline pals enjoy it too. It’s pretty popular with Bengals, Siamese, and other Asian/exotic breeds, in particular. (Fun fact: The majority of people whose kitties fetch begin this behavior randomly, according to a survey. That means our feline buddies often teach themselves to play fetch.)

Playing Tricks. Did you know that some cats can learn tricks? Try teaching Fluffy Gimme Five, Sit, Roll Over, or Jump. Use small, high-value treats to reinforce the desired behavior.

Modern Toys: There are several hi-tech gadgets available for cats today. Fluffy may enjoy chasing a remote-controlled mouse or toy that responds to her movements. Some of these can even be used remotely. When you’re not home, you can control Fluffy’s laser pointer with an app or smartphone. That means you can check on your furball while you’re on your lunch break!

Mazes: Cats love exploring. This is also instinctive. There could be a mouse in that box! You can easily make your furball a little labyrinth by using cardboard boxes, such as those used as packaging for canned drinks, or paper grocery bags with their bottoms cut off.

What Do I Do If My Cat Always Wants To Play?

Many of our furry overlords want us to pay attention to them 24/7. We’d love to oblige, but other obligations–like jobs and families–can get in the way.

Make sure that your pet always has options to amuse herself with when you aren’t around to hold her favorite string toy or laser pointer. Provide a variety of toys to keep your furry buddy entertained. Items like puzzle feeders or running wheels can be great options. Cats also enjoy window seats.

It’s also important to realize that those zoomies won’t last forever. Kitties are very energetic when they are young, but they get more and more tired as they age. Fluffy will sooner later grow past that super-feisty stage.

Is My Cat Playing Or Attacking Me?

The only animal companions that bite and scratch us to show affection are cats, and this can be a bit confusing, especially since they can switch gears from play to attack mode at any given moment.

Most of the time, a playful furball won’t bite or scratch you hard. She may kick-scratch you, but she’ll probably lose steam soon. It’s not uncommon for her to flatten her ears or lash her tail but suddenly decide to lick you instead of biting you. 

An angry cat will bite with full force and hiss or growl. This is a different story, and could be indicative of medical or behavioral issues. For more information, please contact your Southern Lake County, FL veterinarian.

Do Cats Like Being Played With?

Although our furry friends may have very different opinions on some things, they usually enjoy playing with you. Of course, kitties can be opinionated and a bit confusing at times. Don’t worry too much about whether Fluffy wants to play. If she isn’t feeling it, she’ll just walk away.

How Do I Get My Cat To Play Nicely?

The ins and outs of being a good furball may still be a mystery to your tiny lion. Don’t punish your feline pal for attacking you; that could frighten her. However, you don’t want to let biting or scratching go unaddressed, as this can cause behavioral issues. In fact, it can even be dangerous. Those claws and teeth are sharp!

If your kitty bites or scratches, immediately stop playing with her. You can reprimand her verbally in a stern tone. Say ‘No’ or ‘Play Nice,’ or tell your furry buddy ‘Don’t bite’ or ‘Put your claws away’. Walk away and ignore her for some time. Eventually, your furry friend will figure it out.

No luck? You can further discourage your furball by squirting her with water, blowing in her face, or making a loud noise. Another option is to sound an alarm, clap your hands, or bang two pots together. Cats hate loud noises.

Using toys you can control from a distance may also help. Just hang string toys up after each use. Fluffy could get tangled if she were to try using the toy herself!

Is your cat due for a visit? Contact your Southern Lake County, FL veterinary hospital if you have questions about caring for or playing with your pet.