Cats love to play, especially younger cats. Playfulness is something most of us enjoy about having cats and kittens and can be a definite highlight of our lives together.
Indoor cats tend to need more stimulation than cats allowed outdoors. As they spend so much time with us and not outside exploring, we need to make extra time to play with them and ensure they are adequately stimulated.
The last thing you need is a bored cat with claws and the will to use them!
The good news is there are more toys and gadgets to help keep indoor cats occupied than ever before.
As much as we wish we could spend all day playing with our beloved pets, we know that there are times when we can't always be there to drag that string across the floor.
So, to make sure you maintain that all-important playful relationship with your cat, we're going to share a number of ways you can play together, as well as how your cat can entertain itself, even when you can't be there.
Here are some ideas you can use when playing with indoor cats.
Some indoor cats love to play chase while others don’t so much. It’s part of their predatory instinct, so if your cat loves to chase or be chased, that’s a great game.
Introduce the game slowly by running away from your cat and getting them to chase you or chasing and tickling them.
Take care to make sure your cat is enjoying the game though. If their tail is up as they run, they are enjoying it.
If their tail swishes or is down, stop the game as they aren’t enjoying it as much as you are.
Toys to play with
Indoor cats get very bored very easily. That’s why we tend to recommend having a basket of toys around to play with. Don’t give your friend free rein to play with whatever they like though.
Introduce a toy for a day or two and then switch it out with another. This should keep things interesting and switch it up when they get bored.
You don’t have to spend much on toys. Old cardboard toilet rolls, balls of wrapping paper, lengths of string or yarn or anything shiny will work. As we all know, cats also tend to prefer the box things come in to the actual toy itself!
Dedicated indoor cat toys will usually work too. Anything with catnip and anything they can chase, hunt or roll around with should work.
It isn’t just dogs that like playing fetch you know. Make it worth their while and a cat can learn to love fetching something and bringing it back to you.
Cats are harder to train, but if you use a toy they like and a tasty treat as a reward, they soon learn what you want and may get into the game with you.
Don’t force it if your cat isn’t interested though. Not all dogs like playing fetch either!
Cats are predators and use their eyes to hunt and catch prey. You can use that instinct as a game.
There are a number of indoor cat toys out there that use a moving light or moving toy to keep your cat amused.
You can also use a toy on a stick or torch to play the same game. Keep the light or object moving and ensure the cat only catches it momentarily to keep them hungry for it.
Let them have it too long and they will realise they can’t eat it and will soon get bored.
Ambush is another game some indoor cats love to play. You create a den for them to hide and pull or move a toy across the entrance to that den.
The object is for your cat to pounce on the toy as they would in nature. It’s similar to moving targets but uses their ambush instinct as well as their eyes.
When you don’t have the time to play with your feline friend, a clockwork or battery-powered toy can come in useful.
You can use it in play, fetch, moving target or ambush and just need to be around to make sure your cat is safe and the toy hasn’t been mauled too badly when it was caught.
Get them a friend
Indoor cats can get lonely or bored, even if you’re around a lot to entertain them. Having a brother or sister around to play with can offset that.
As long as there’s enough space for each animal to have their own space and there’s no competition for food or your affection, cats can live together in harmony and help entertain each other.
Getting another cat is a big move, but can be an excellent way to help keep your feline friends amused while you’re busy, working or doing other things.
A place in the sun
If your cat isn’t in a playing mood, give them a place to lie in the sun. Use a window seat, make a windowsill accessible or place their cat bed in front of the window.
Sometimes our cats just love to curl up into a cute ball and soak up the sunshine. While not stimulating, cats are exceptionally comfortable like this and can while away many hours curled up.
Leave a radio on for stimulation
Finally, if you’re going to be busy for a while or need to leave the house, consider leaving the radio on.
They probably have no preference for stations but we would suggest soothing music to help keep them calm.