Mind of Your Cat

January 2009 Issue

Cat Play: An Essential Part of Her Care

You can choose fun toys at the pet store or invent your own games to keep her entertained.

Play is an intriguing behavior. Scientists even speculate on its function. Since all species seem to engage in play on some level, it must fulfill an important need. It might prepare youngsters for future tasks such as hunting or fighting. It certainly serves to refine communication skills between participants, and it offers an opportunity for aerobic exercise. But the main reason we play is quite simply that playing is, by definition, fun. Play is a treat that we can and should offer to our cats. Naturally we cannot engage in precisely the same games that cats play with one another. What is the best way to provide play? The first step is to establish some ground rules. No one should get hurt or be frightened. If a cat hisses, bites, or runs away, then the game should be discontinued. Another important rule is that human body parts should not be used as substitutes for toys. That is to say, a cat should not be encouraged to grab or chase hands, fingers or legs. A pony tail is not a toy. The bottom line is that cats cannot help the fact that they are predators. The drive to hunt is a powerful one, and even the most sophisticated housecat can become a skilled huntress at the sight of a tiny mouse. It is not at all uncommon for cats to stalk hands or legs or to pounce forcefully onto a long braid. Even with absence of malice, harm can be done. An ounce of prevention will serve you well. Encourage your cat to play with appropriate toys.

To continue reading this entire article you must be a paid subscriber.

Subscribe to CatWatch Newsletter

Which foods are really safe for your cat? How can you painlessly end furniture scratching---for good? What is your cat telling you when she refuses to eat? Get the answers to these questions- and many more- when you subscribe now to CatWatch!

Already subscribe but haven't registered for all the benefits of the website? Click here.

Subscriber Log In

Forgot your password? Click Here.