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Southlake Animal Hospital
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Call us today! 219-942-0909

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Merrillville, IN 46410

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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 are cute no matter what they are doing, but they’re extra adorable when they’re feeling playful. As it turns out, all of that pouncing and running are very important for your kitty’s health and well-being. A local Merrillville, IN veterinarian discusses playing with your cat in this article. 

How Often Should I Play With My Cat? 

If you can, try to play with Fluffy daily, even if just for a few minutes. This is quite easy to work into even a busy schedule. Just keep a few kitty toys handy by the chair or sofa where you like to relax, and work it into your downtime. 

How Do You Play With A Cat?

Cats actually vary quite a bit when it comes to their favorite games. Some of our feline pals 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: 

  • Mazes: We all know that cats love exploring. You can make Fluffy a little maze. You can use cardboard boxes, such as the ones that canned beverages come in. You can also use paper grocery bags with the bottoms cut off. Or, get a few pet tunnels and rearrange them. 
  • Fetch: While we usually associate this game with dogs, some of our feline pals also enjoy it. 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.) 
  • Tricks: Believe it or not, some cats can learn tricks. Try teaching Fluffy Gimme Five, Sit, Roll Over, or Jump. Be sure to use the same words or phrases every time! Offer your kitty small, high-value treats to reinforce the behavior.
  • High-Tech Fun: There are now quite a few hi-tech modern gadgets made just 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. This allows you to control the toy even when you aren’t home. This can be a cute way to check in with your furry friend during your lunch break. 

How Do I Know If My Cat Is Playing Or Attacking Me? 

Our feline pals can be a bit temperamental. Actually, Fluffy is the only one of our animal companions that sometimes bites and scratches us to show affection. This can be a bit confusing, especially for first-time cat owners. It doesn’t help that kitties can change gears from play mode to attack mode and back at any moment, and without warning. 

For the most part, if Fluffy is feeling playful, she 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 briefly, she may also suddenly decide to lick you instead of biting.  

A cat that is truly angry will bite full force, and may hiss or growl. This can be a sign of behavioral or medical issues, especially if it’s out of character. Ask your Merrillville, IN veterinarian for more information. 

How Do I Teach My Feline Pal To Play Nice?

If your cat hasn’t quite figured out the ins and outs of being a good kitty, you may need to teach her some petiquette. Never punish Fluffy for attacking you: that may just frighten her. However, don’t 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! 

If your cat bites or scratches, immediately stop playing with her. You can reprimand her vocally in a stern, disapproving tone of voice. Say ‘No’ or ‘Play Nice’. You can also tell your feisty pet ‘Don’t bite’ or ‘Put your claws away.’ Then, just walk away and ignore her for a while. Sooner or later, your furry friend will get the hint. (You may see a slightly confused look on her face as she’s pondering this turn of events.)

No luck? Never strike or yell at Fluffy. Annoying her is a much better tactic. Squirt her with water or blow in her face. Or, make a loud noise: sound an alarm, clap your hands, bang a pot together. Cats tend to hate loud noises. (Given that they spend roughly 99.9 percent of their time sleeping, this probably shouldn’t be a surprise.) 

It may also help to use toys you control from a distance. Just put string toys up after each use, so Fluffy doesn’t get tangled up if she tries to use it when you aren’t there.

Do Cats Like It When You Play With Them? 

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

Don’t worry about overdoing it: if Fluffy gets tired or just isn’t feeling it, she’ll simply walk away. 

How Is Playing Good For My Cat? 

Playing benefits Fluffy in several ways.  If you have a kitten, playing will help your little ball of fur burn off those zoomies.  Does your furry friend wake you up by pouncing on your toes? You may find that if you tire her out chasing that red dot, she’ll probably be ready for a nap after.

Playing is also good for bonding. When you take time to hold that string toy or laser pointer, Fluffy will know that you’re trying to entertain her. That will definitely score you some purrs. If you have more than one cat, playing can help them become friends.

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

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.)

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

What Do I Do If My Cat Wants To Play All The Time?

If Fluffy is really full of zoomies, you’ll need to 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. Depending on your pet’s age, you could consider getting her a buddy, though that is of course a huge decision.

Do you have questions about caring for or playing with your cat? Contact us, your  Merrillville, IN animal hospital, today! We’re always happy to help!