For cats, play is much more than a leisure activity. It is a basic need that has its roots in the hunting strategies that their direct ancestors, the African wild cats, used to capture small prey such as birds, mice or insects. They could spend up to 6 hours a day hunting 10 to 20 prey.
Therefore, the simulation of hunting behaviors through play mobilizes an enormous therapeutic value for the integral health of felines. Through these interactions you will be able to strengthen your bond and you will be doing a lot to improve their quality of life. Keep in mind that the well-being of your kitten translates into healthy behavior.
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Play as a therapeutic resource
Do you know that lack of play can cause stress for your pet? Lacking cognitive stimulation and interactions with its human family can make the cat feel frustrated , bored, sad, and anxious. If you notice that he is over-grooming, binge-eating, or sleeping more than 18 hours a day, he could be stressed.
Interacting with him will allow you to exercise, stay alert to overcome new challenges and feel loved and accompanied. In other words, it will prevent stress and anxiety , as well as obesity. Therefore, do not underestimate the positive effect of the game on the health of your best friend.
You must learn to interpret their body language, since many times we believe that they ask us for food when what they want is company . Likewise, it is not advisable to overstimulate the animal by leaving all the toys in its sight. The lack of novelty of these static objects will stop fueling your curiosity the next day.
Identify aggressive behaviors
If the cat has not been stimulated in the game, it is possible that, in addition to stress and anxiety, there is an excess of energy that the animal expresses redirecting it to your hands or legs and ends up hurting you. To redirect this behavior you must introduce the game gradually and adapted.
If, on the contrary, the aggressiveness persists outside of these entertainment routines, you should seek the advice of an ethologist, once a physical factor has been ruled out as the cause of that aggressiveness, such as a disease that causes pain or a hormonal disorder. .
What games are the most recommended?
The priority to take advantage of the benefits of the game is not to stop surprising your pet. To do this, you must know what their character is, what their preferences are and their age to adapt it to their needs. Bearing this in mind, the most stimulating games for cats are those that emulate their hunting behavior .
Thus, the canes with a stuffed animal or feathers at one end or the pendants are the most complete toys, since they will allow your pet to satisfy its need to pounce on objects and reach them while enjoying your company without your hands or feet are injured. If you have children at home they can also play with the cat using the cane, you will not have to worry.
Other game dynamics suitable for your cat
- The interactive ones, that is, those that move by themselves and make sounds. Do not abuse them, because they will let them have the desired effect. Therefore, keep them in a box and take one out every other day to surprise him. Rubbing them with catnip will also help pique your friend’s interest.
- Intelligence devices, such as dispensers or circuits, pose the challenge of figuring out how to access food or toys. They are more suitable for times when he will be alone, since your intervention is not necessary.
- Confined objects with a hidden prize. Cardboard boxes or paper bags always like kittens, since they can hide in them and take cover when they want not to be disturbed. Using boxes of different sizes or creating tunnels with them that house your favorite candy, a ball or some herbs ( catnip , valerinana, lavender or basil, among many others) will awaken your senses.
- The proprioception exercises. Try placing objects of different shapes and textures in a room. The result will surprise you. Apart from entertaining, you will exercise coordination, sight and touch.
- Play hide and seek. Not only dogs love this game. Hide and then call him. He will go crazy! Remember to always pronounce the same words and reward him at the end for making the association correctly.
How to play with a puppy cat
Kittens are discovering their environment, so they are always ready to play. Any object will be enough to attract your attention. The socialization stage, from week 2 to 7, is the most appropriate to enhance this aspect , since this will ensure that the game is present in all stages of their life.
How to play with an adult cat
It may happen that your cat does not know how to play just because socialization has not been properly undertaken, because it has been separated from its mother and siblings prematurely or because you do not reserve time to play with it or do not know how to stimulate it. In this case, you should resort to catnip and movement-based games together .
In the most extreme cases, the animal may present what ethologists call sensory deprivation syndrome that will require their intervention to reverse the situation, although it is not always possible to motivate the animal to play if it has been deprived of it throughout its existence.
How to play with a senior cat
Just because your cat has entered old age does not mean that it does not want to play. Even if you do it with a lower intensity and frequency, it is very beneficial that you play to stay active in all the senses. This will result in a better quality of life and extend your life expectancy. Of course, you will have to mold it to your situation.
As you can see, play must be present in your cat’s day-to-day life if you want to enjoy his company in optimal conditions for many years. Combining different dynamics and not ceasing to appeal to your curiosity will be very beneficial for your physical, mental and emotional health. Of course, it will require you to dedicate time and creativity to keep it stimulated.