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Playing With Your Feline Friend

February 15 2024

Our feline friends are extremely cute and entertaining pets. Fluffy may be small, but she has a big personality, and always makes us laugh with her cute quirks, charming facial expressions, and, of course, her playful ways. One of the best things you can do for your cat is to take some time to play with her every day. A local Hendersonville, NC veterinarian offers some insight into this below.

Why Is It Good To Play With Your Cat?

We all know that cats love batting balls around, or pouncing on catnip mice. But what most people don’t realize is how beneficial it is for them.

Exercise is a big one. Just like people, Fluffy must stay fit to stay healthy. You probably won’t have much luck convincing your kitty to do stair runs, but you may very well tempt her into chasing that red dot. Running, jumping, and pouncing all make great kitty workouts. This can keep your cat healthy and strong as she ages. As you may have noticed, many of these little furballs are pretty content lounging around all day. In fact, Fluffy can sleep for up to 20 hours a day. (This may be a bit excessive, but we can discuss that another time.)

Playing also prevents boredom. When your feline friend is awake, she’ll need activities to keep her mind occupied instead. It’s no fun simply staring at the walls all day! Playing provides mental stimulation for your pet and helps keep her mind sharp. Your tiny lion must concentrate on those jumps and pounces. This not only entertains Fluffy, but also promotes healthy brain function as she ages.

You can also use play for bonding. When you grab that wand toy, your feline friend will know that you’re doing something for her benefit. That can go a long way towards helping your cute pet feel loved and safe. Kitties can also bond with each other through play. If you’ve just adopted a new cat, dual play sessions may help your resident cat or cats form a positive connection with the new arrival. Just be careful not to play favorites.

Next, playing eases anxiety. Just like people, cats can feel scared, lonely, or depressed. Vigorous play sessions give Fluffy a chance to let off some steam in a healthy manner. It’s sort of like your pet’s version of sweating off a bad day at the gym.

Shy cats may also feel more confident after playing. Our furry buddies all have their own unique purrsonalities. Some furballs are bold and fearless, while others are, well, scaredy cats.  Getting that tricky pounce right can be a challenge for Fluffy, so she may be quite proud of herself for nailing it. 

Another reason is that playing helps your kitty unleash her inner tiger. Our feline friends may be cute and cuddly, but they are also highly efficient hunters. It’s not just fun for your furry friend to master using those sharp claws and teeth; it’s also very instinctive. After all, Fluffy relies on her hunting skills to survive in the wild.

Last but not least, it’s cute! Watching a frisky kitty hard at play can make for an adorable and entertaining experience. It will probably put a smile on your face as well!

Are There Any Dangers To Playing With My Cat?

You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to play with Fluffy, but cat owners should be aware of a few things.

It’s best not to play rough with Fluffy. Your cute pet might have fun ‘kick scratching’ your arm, but this could unintentionally encourage bad behavior. You could also scare or even injure your furball. Although it may be tempting to let your cat playfully attack your toes or fingers, this can cause confusion by sending mixed signals. It’s important to set boundaries and discourage aggressive behavior towards you. You don’t want your feline pal thinking that it’s perfectly fine to attack you or use you as a practice mouse!

Also, make sure to always use safe toys. Cats don’t know what is and isn’t safe for them. (Actually, some kitties seem to be specifically drawn to the objects that are the least safe for them, but that’s another topic.) Anything small and sharp is dangerous. Stringed objects are also unsafe: they can choke or entangle Fluffy, and can cause serious internal injuries if eaten. Wand toys are fine, but do not leave them out after playtime has ended. You don’t want your cat getting tangled!

Don’t with your pet around potential hazards, such as stairs, pools, and fireplaces.

Finally, if you have more than one cat, don’t play favorites. Give them both equal attention during playtime. Our feline pals can be quite jealous of each other!

Does My Cat Want To Play With Me? Or Is She Trying To Kill Me?

Kitties can be purrplexing at times. It can be difficult to distinguish playful behavior from anger with these curious little furballs. Keep an eye on Fluffy’s body language and actions. When your pet is feeling playful, she may become quite energetic, or even surprise you by jumping out at you from behind furniture as you walk by. However, a polite and well-mannered cat will not bite or scratch too forcefully. In fact, she may even switch to licking you instead of attacking. Angry cats may growl or hiss, and they will not hold back.

Of course, cats are known for their ability to change moods quickly, and sometimes for no apparent reason. That’s just to be expected!

Ask your Hendersonville, NC veterinarians for more information. 

How Much Time Should I Spend Playing With My Cat?

This one is really up to you and Fluffy. We recommend playing with your feline friend every day, for at least a few minutes at a time. Don’t worry about overdoing it. The second your kitty gets tired or bored, she’ll quit the game and will probably wander off in search of her next napping spot.

This is one area where dogs and cats differ quite a bit. Fido will drive himself to the point of exhaustion to please his humans, whereas cats do not care what we want.

Age also comes into play. A kitten or a super bouncy young adult will want to play more than a senior.

When You Play With Cats, Do They Like It?

Cats are all very unique, so it’s only to be expected that some just don’t enjoy playing as much as others. Age has a lot to do with this. Kitties are very frisky when they are young, but slow down over time. However, most cats–even seniors–do enjoy playing.

How Do You Play With Cats?

That one is up to Fluffy! Kitties all have their own tastes, so you’ll need to see what your pet prefers. We do recommend that you utilize a toy that can be manipulated from a distance, such as a wand, laser pointer, or remote-controlled toy. This not only adds excitement and difficulty for your cat, but also promotes good manners. 

Conclusion: Playing is of course lots of fun for cats, but it’s also very beneficial for them. Taking a few minutes to play with your feline friend will benefit her mentally and physically, and can help ensure she has a good quality of life.

Contact us at any time if you have questions about caring for your cat. As your Hendersonville, NC pet hospital, we are here to help!