One of the things that endears us to cats is their playful nature. It’s a heartless individual who doesn’t smile when they see a kitten at play. But even an older cat will bat at an object or attack something that intrigues him. As sick and tired as Max was, I caught him reaching out to play with something that caught his attention just days before he passed.
But we must remember that the activities cats use in play are actually the very activities they’d use for survival—stalking, attacking (pouncing), leaping (to catch something in the air), batting… It’s all part of their hunting routine. They’re programmed to hunt and kill. But cats also seem to have a great sense of humor because they make it all look like serious fun.
Just as cats have different appetites, they also have different play techniques. That’s why there are so many toy choices at your local pet store. But then each type of toy brings out different instincts for cats. I like to offer my cats a variety of toys for a variety of activity.
Lily and Sophie love the feather wand. We found the feather (or toy) on a string or cord to be very unsuccessful. Sophie got tangled in the string once while we were playing with her and it frightened her. The danger seemed real with that toy, so we discarded it. But when a visitor wants to make friends with our cats, we hand them the feather wand.
Lily loves hiding under newspaper and blanket tents. She also likes to jump up and try to catch wads of paper when I toss them for her. Speaking of places to hide out, Lily is always on hand when I come home from shopping. At her first opportunity, she climbs into the bags to examine their contents. And boxes coming from Amazon, always get close scrutiny from Lily.
One of Lily’ favorite play sessions occurs each morning when I cut the end off of a plastic straw and let it fly in the air toward her. On a good day, she’ll play with that piece of plastic for a long time, hiding it and finding it, stalking it, batting it all around the room, etc. She also loves her small stuffed animals. While she doesn’t play with them so much anymore, she carries them around and drops them in strategic places throughout the house. At night, she moves them to new spots. This game of musical toys keeps her busy, indeed.
Sophie likes the stuffed toys with tails, such as the baby possum. She delights in tossing it in the air and attacking it over and over again. Both cats go crazy if a moth finds its way in the house. They look like ballerinas, climbing, leaping, doing all sorts of acrobatics trying to catch the live, flying thing.
Most cats are curious about anything new or out of place. A coin left sitting on a tabletop where there are cats, often winds up on the floor. An earring or hair pin on the floor, will soon be batted under a piece of furniture. If you’re looking for the lid off your toothpaste, ask the cat.
Max delighted in knocking my pen off my desk and he got pretty good at slam-dunking it into the waste basket. One swipe of a paw was about all he could manage as he got older.
What does your cat like to play with? What lengths do you go to in order to entertain your cat?