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Interactive Play with Cats


Learn how to play with your cat to best manage stress.

Isn't it fun to play with cats? They're so cute, fun, and goofy that it's hard not to smile when you're playing with them. In fact, interacting with your cat routinely can decrease your stress levels and improve your quality of life.

Why Is Play Important for Cats?

Play is more important for cats than its surface value of having fun. It provides physical exercise, which is especially important for indoor cats, and the mental stimulation it affords is crucial to a cat's well-being.

The type of play is important, too, for making sure that your cat stays emotionally healthy. In fact, if you provide the right type of play in the right amounts, you can help your cat stay stress-free and decrease the risk of the development of unwanted behaviors.

Play with your cats on and around your kitty's scratching alternative

Predator-Prey Simulating Play Is Best for Cats

Cats are natural predators, but when they live inside as house pets, they usually don't get to do much hunting. Being unable to exercise those natural instincts can lead to boredom, stress, and acting out. When you are playing with your cat, always be thinking about how you can mimic prey behavior so your cat can act like a predator.

Wand toys are great for simulating prey behavior and letting your cat stalk and pounce like a predator. Here's how:

  • Always move the toy away from your cat; prey doesn't run toward predators.
  • Make the wand toy act like prey. Move erratically, freeze sometimes, and scurry behind and under things when you can.
  • Keep a throw toy nearby so that, when your cat catches the wand toy, you can toss the throw toy to her, too, so she can have something substantial to bite down on and bunny-kick, as though she's made a kill.
  • At the end of the play session, put the toys away. Otherwise, they're just "dead" prey lying around, and your cat could lose interest in them for future play sessions.
  • At the end of a session, let your cat catch the "prey" and then give her a tasty treat or meal. Doing this simulates a successful hunt, and it will maximize the mental benefits that your cat gets from the play session.
  • Play with your cat for at least 10 minutes a day. If your cat is showing any unwanted behaviors or is a kitten, more play might be required.

You can also use a laser toy to simulate prey, but be extra sure that your cat gets to pounce on and bite a real toy at the end of the session or she might experience frustration and stress due to never having a successful hunt.

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Disclaimer: This website is not intended to replace professional consultation, diagnosis, or treatment by a licensed veterinarian. If you require any veterinary related advice, contact your veterinarian promptly. Information at is exclusively of a general reference nature. Do not disregard veterinary advice or delay treatment as a result of accessing information at this site.