Remember when you first adopted your kitten or cat? One of the greatest pleasures was probably playing together. But nowadays, you often feel too busy: Perhaps you work full-time, take care of kids all day or do both. So you congratulate yourself on providing your cat with a clean litter box and fresh food and water each day. You even throw your feline a toy once in a while and give her treats. Isnt that enough?
No, say experts. According to Kathryn Michel, DVM, an associate professor of nutrition at the University of Pennsylvania, “Giving food is a huge part of bonding and affection in our society, so its natural that we do it with our pets. But many times our pets are asking for attention – not food. There are other ways to show our felines we love them; playing with them is an important one.”
Cats that dont play actively are more likely to be overweight, bored and more destructive around the house. So there are plenty of reasons to resume playtime with your cat.
Youve probably noticed that cats are often more active early in the morning (when youre getting ready for work) or at night (when youre getting yourself or kids ready for bed). This is in sync with their times for hunting in the wild, says Katherine A. Houpt, VMD, PhD, the James Law Professor of Animal Behavior at Cornell Universitys College of Veterinary Medicine. To get you started, here are some creative ways to make playing with your cat a part of your life.
If your cat likes to wake you in the morning, invite your kitty under the blanket for a snuggle or a little playtime. Most cats love diving under the covers. By sparing just five minutes, you and your cat will have a little fun together. Its better than just groaning and struggling out of bed. If youre the type who hits the snooze button, let your cat snooze with you. And when you make the bed, enlist the help of your cat – smoothing out the comforter and placing the pillows. All that pouncing on the bed will put both of you in a better mood.
- Before or after getting in the shower, let your cat get in the tub and poke at him (best to use a toy instead of your hands) through the shower curtain. If youve never tried it, your cat will probably have lots of fun doing this, and respond by jumping up repeatedly to poke back at you. (Just beware of sharp claws puncturing a fragile or expensive shower curtain.)Let your cat into the sink to watch you apply your makeup or shave. More than anything, your cat will be very amused by your actions. She may even reach up and try to help out with a shaving or mascara brush, but let her know that shes more of a spectator at this point.Chase your cat as you move from room to room. Cats love to be chased and will often try to initiate this game with you.If your cat loves chasing string, tie a long ribbon around your waist and let your cat chase it and you around the house. If you really feel enthused about this, you can take one of those fishing pole toys and tuck it in the back of your pants or pajamas and walk around doing chores while your cats goes nuts, chasing the toy dangling in back of you. Your cat wont even realize youre actually going about your business and not really playing with her. (Just be sure that she wont be able to swallow the string or any parts involved.)While we often find our cats to be a nuisance in the kitchen, there is something you can do to amuse your cat and also keep her out of your way while you prepare breakfast or school lunches. Grab about a dozen pellets of your cats dry food. As you work at the counter, throw a pellet or two across the kitchen floor and encourage your cat to chase them. Your cat will love this game of “hunt and eat.” And it will help keep your kitty in shape.If you take regular naps after work, when the kids nap or when you come home from classes, ask your kitty to join you. Just take time to gently play with your cat or stroke her. Its a soothing way for you to relax or unwind – and a wonderful way to show your cat you love her. You can also do this before going to sleep for the night – whether or not your cat sleeps on the bed with you.
Working playtime with your cat into your schedule may take a little effort. But once you get used to it, your day wont seem the same without it.