Time to Play – tips to help your cat play safely

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We have all heard that that cats are aloof, self-reliant, they need virtually no training; they groom themselves and they can be left alone without pining for their owners.

Here at Palmerstown Veterinary Hospital, we do not think this is the case. Playtime is an essential part of your cats day. Not only is it a fun way to exercise your cat, but it also improves your cat’s mental health while increasing the bond between you and your cat.

 

 There are 2 types of play that your cat can engage in: object (solo) play and social (interactive) play.

Object play not only builds and strengthens the kitten’s coordination but also teaches him/her about their environment. Whereas, social play involves another cat, pet or human and begins with your kitten’s littermates. This type of play helps a kitten to develop their coordination, teaches them about appropriate behaviour and gives them the opportunity to bond with their companions. Social play can help to develop and strengthen the bond with your kitten and for an adult cat, it can be used to correct behavioural problems as well as relieve boredom and get your adult cat exercising again, particularly if they are overweight.

Interactive play:

Never use your fingers during playtime, this is such a common mistake to make with a kitten. But, think about how much fun it will be when they are bigger and their teeth are sharper! It will ultimately encourage bad habits such as biting or scratching.

A simple interactive toy can be a pole, string and a toy target dangling on the end. There are many products on the market so do your research – maybe have a couple of different types and alternate them eg. there are some that make sounds of the bird chirping and this can add a new dimension to play. Remember to remove all string toys once play is over though, as they could be a danger to your pet.

Lasers are a great way to get your cat moving and you don’t even need to leave your couch to initiate the game. Although, as interactive play is about providing opportunities for your cat to succeed, finish the laser game with an actual interactive toy or treat. This helps kitty to feel they have ‘hunted’ and ‘caught’ their prey, which will help to relieve any frustration.

Solo Play:

Puzzle feeders are a great way of providing your cat with playtime opportunities if you are away from home. The concept of a puzzle feeders is to encourage your cat to work for the food. Again, there are many on the market (such as the Kong wobbler or food trees). You can even make your own….see below!

I’m sure we have all seen our cats occupy themselves with boxes and paper bags. These are another great way to let your cat play solo. For instance, you can put a ping pong ball in a tissue box or create tunnels out of bags.

Remember to never use plastic bags as there can be a risk of suffocation.

Check out Paula’s homemade puzzle for Logan below:

 

We hope we have given you some ideas for creating playtime both for solo play and interactive play.

As we have shown, it doesn’t have to be expensive; you just need a little creativity.

Make sure you Follow us on Facebook and Instagram for lots more tips, patient updates and competitions.

 

Our veterinary nurse Paula also has a cat specific Facebook page – The Purrfect Nurse – where you can find lots more kitty information!

 

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