Play is such an important part of our cats lives, and it’s not just for kittens! It’s a great way for us to bond with our cats and learn more about their little (or big) personalities, and there are many benefits of play for cats of all ages which we’re going to take a closer look at. We’ll also look at how we can encourage our cats to engage in play to make the most of these benefits.
The importance of cats and play
In a world without comfy beds and tasty cat food, our cats would have to go out and hunt their own prey to survive. While this might not be the case for our cats at home, there are still benefits to these behaviours.
Stalking, pouncing and playing actually release endorphins, those lovely mood boosting hormones, which is why playing is such an important part of daily life for our pet cats. It’s especially important for indoor cats: they aren’t able to practise this behaviour outdoors, but they can still get all the benefits through indoor play!
Why cats play
For kittens and younger cats, play is how they learn about the world around them and develop the skills they need for life as a cat. It helps kittens with their balance and physical development, as well as their socialisation.
But it’s not just for kittens! Play is just as important for adult cats of all ages too, allowing them to burn off energy, keeping them mentally stimulated, and helping to keep them fit, healthy and happy.
How cats play
Cats will play both with us and on their own (or with each other, if you’ve got a multi-cat household!). They might have their favourite toys that they play with independently, and those night time zoomies you can hear? That counts as play too!
Cats don’t usually want to play for long, so when it comes to interactive play, just 5 minutes is often all you need! They’re competitive little creatures though, and they love to win—so remember to let them catch and “kill” any hunting or prey-type toys you’re using to play with them, to stop them getting too frustrated and losing interest.
Cats generally like to play for just a short while at a time, so interactive games can last just a few minutes. For adult cats, 3 or 4 small play windows throughout the day should be enough, but if you’ve got a kitten at home, they might want to play a lot more!
How to encourage your cat to play
There are ways for us to encourage both interactive play (with us) and to help our cats play independently. Toys and enrichment can encourage your cat’s curiosity and playful instincts—and they don’t have to mean spending lots of money at the pet shop. Many cat owners can attest to a cat’s love for a simple cardboard box, and there are plenty of other budget-friendly ways to bring more play into your cat’s daily routine.
For independent play, a cardboard box with holes cut in it can give your cat plenty of entertainment (and a cosy place to hide away!). For interactive play, toys on a string are perfect for you to play together with your cat, and catnip toys are another favourite for many cats! Just make sure to tidy any string toys (or any toys that could be shredded or eaten) away once you’ve finished playing to keep your cats safe.
30/08/2022 by NatuTeam