Thursday, September 24, 2015

Playtime for Kitty!

Photo Courtesy 9 Lives

If you're a regular reader of this blog you'll remember that I posted about Morris the Cat's new website, Live Well and Prospurr.  9 Lives Cat Food has done a good job of engaging owners to make life even better for their feline friends. 

One of the things that concerns Morris is something that concerns me as well: playtime. As a behavior consultant I've found that not enough owners spend time playing with their cats. People assume only dogs like to play. Nothing could be further from the truth - cats love interactive play. Yes, they will play on their own but that's no substitute for playing with your cat. 

Photo Courtesy 9 Lives

Too many cats are bored. Why? Their owners believe the old wives' tale that cats are independent. I will repeat what I've said so often here, in articles and books and in person: cats are independent hunters, not independent creatures. Yes, they enjoy looking out the window at birds and squirrels, bunnies and whatever else passes by but that's no substitute for two or three play sessions with you each day. 

When your cat sits on your book or newspaper while you're reading, or walks on top of your computer while you're there, he's soliciting attention, your attention. He's not always asking for food. Fat cats, like fat people, aren't really healthy. When you play with your cat, you're not only giving him attention but exercise as well.

Cats love fishing pole toys with a feather on the end. Take the fishing pole toy out for playtime and put it away after play so kitty will know that this is your special playtime together. It also means he won't get into trouble with the wire holding the feather. Some cats really like the pole that has a long, slim cloth attached. Playing with your cat will tell you whether he prefers to have the feather or cloth move across the floor like a snake or fly through the air like a bird. Let him win once in awhile but don't let him swallow the feather! 

Photo Courtesy 9 Lives

The time you spend playing together will help solidify your bond. 

Dogs aren't the only ones who like to play fetch. Many cats enjoy this activity, too. You don't need a special toy for this game - many cats enjoy fetching a rolled-up pieces of paper.

Your cat is less likely to get into trouble if his mind and his body are engaged.

Operant Conditioning (clicker training) works for all species and, between us, I find that cats can train much faster than dogs. The difference is that if you train the wrong thing you can retrain a dog but cats, like elephants, never forget.  Be sure the behavior is one you want. Sit, Stay, Come, High Five, Jump Through a Hoop are just the beginning. Think of the fun you'll have showing your friends what your cat can do!

If you have special games that you and your cat enjoy playing, I hope you'll share them here.

Photo Courtesy 9 Lives
NOTE: I received no compensation from 9 Lives Cat Food, however, they did send a box of their day and canned food which I have donated to a local Humane Society. Thanks to 9 Lives, some kitties awaiting new homes will be eating like Morris as long as the food lasts.


Lisette Brodey said...

This is a great post, Darlene. Lots of really important advice.

Yes, cats do love to play! And I did have one who loved to play fetch, too! It's so sad when people get the idea that cats don't know interaction. So wrong.

Thanks for this great blog.

Darlene said...

I'm so glad you enjoyed the post, Lisette. You're right, it is so wrong when people think that cats don't know interaction. I hope we can change their perception! Cats deserve so much more and so many have been getting short shrift.

bressler west said...

AS always Darlene your posts are informative and in tune with the lives of our furry friends. Makes me want to go play with a kitty. Thanks for the information. I am going to do the same
play time with my dogs .

Gordon Brice said...

I'm certainly going to share this very informative blog, Darlene. I too believe that many people assume that cats make their own amusement and do not need the cooperation of their human companions. This is so wrong and playtime is beneficial and fun for both.
I love the pictures that have been incorporated in the article and thank you as always for sharing this valuable information with us.

Darlene said...

Thank you so much for your comment, Bressler West. I'm so glad you enjoyed the post and I'm sure your dogs will enjoy the play time.

Darlene said...

Thank you so much for your comment, Bressler West. I'm so glad you enjoyed the post and I'm sure your dogs will enjoy the play time.

Darlene said...

Thank you, Gordon, for sharing this post. I truly appreciate it. The more people who share it, the better chance of educating more cat owners about the importance of playing with their cat.

Rescuegal said...

Another excellent blog, Darlene, with a lot of great information. Cats really are very social animals as a rule and love interacting with their human. That they don't need play time is one of the common cat myths. Thanks for helping to dispel this myth here in your blog. Playing with cats is fun and beneficial to both the human and the cat.

Darlene said...

Thank you so much, Rescuegal. I'm so happy to know that you understand cats and found the blog full of useful information. You are so right about it being a myth that they don't need play time. You have it exactly right about it being both fun and beneficial to both the human and the cat.