Playing With Your Cat: Top Tips From A Plano, TX Veterinarian

When your cat bats a bottle cap or cotton swab across the floor, does it make you laugh? You can’t help but love cats. Fluffy certainly keeps us giggling with her silly antics! As it turns out, our feline friends are even cuter when they’re being frisky. In this article, a local Plano, TX veterinarian provides some tips on how to play with your cat.


Know The Benefits Of Playing With Your Cat


Playing with Fluffy isn’t just okay: it’s officially recommended! In fact, playing with your cat has many benefits.


Love And Happiness: Keeping your pet entertained and active can also help her feel safe and loved. Fluffy will know you’re interacting with her and trying to entertain her. That will definitely earn you some purrs.


Instinctive Needs: Our feline friends are natural hunters, so they’re naturally inclined to master all those claws and teeth. It’s good for your pet to unleash her inner lioness sometimes, and indulge those deeply ingrained instincts to pounce and scratch. Kitties depend on those skills for their survival in the wild! 


Build Confidence: Playing can also help shy kitties. A tricky pounce/jump combo can help Fluffy build self-esteem. Think of it as the feline equivalent of scoring a goal or scoring an A on a test.


Bonding: Playing is good for bonding as well. Do you have more than one cat? Playing with them together can go a long way toward helping them make friends. Just don’t play favorites! 


Physical And Mental Health: There are benefits for senior cats as well. In addition to keeping older cats physically fit, playtime helps them stay mentally sharp. Those run/jump/pounce combos are rather like doing crossword puzzles for your furry retiree.


Burn Excess Energy: Another benefit to playing with your feline pal? It will help your kitten burn off those zoomies. This can be quite helpful. After a few vigorous rounds of chasing that red dot, your furry pal will probably be ready for a nap. You may find that this curbs those midnight play sessions. If Fluffy tends to pounce on your toes in the middle of the night, try tiring her out with playtime before bed.


(Bonus) Relaxation: This is also a good way for you to wind down after a long day. Spending time with your feline pal can also help you relax. In fact, studies have shown that interacting with Fluffy can help reduce stroke and heart attack risk.


Ask Your Plano, TX Veterinarian About New Cat Toys And Games


Our feline pals actually vary quite a bit when it comes to their favorite games. Some kitties like to bat at wand toys, some like playing with little balls, and others enjoy high-tech gadgets. Experiment with different things to see what Fluffy prefers.


If you have more than one cat, your pets may have completely different tastes. Offer something for everyone!


You can try the following options:


High-Tech Fun: Fluffy might enjoy chasing a remote-controlled mouse or a smart toy that reacts to her movements. You can even download games for her to play on an old phone or laptop! (Your mileage may vary.)  


Mazes: Kitties are very curious, and they love to explore, well, everything. You can make your pet a little labyrinth pretty easily by using cardboard boxes, such as those used for canned drinks. You can also use paper grocery bags with the bottoms cut off. Or, get a few pet tunnels and rearrange them into a fun maze.


Fetch: The game of fetch is normally associated with Fido, but some cats also enjoy it. The Bengal, Siamese, and other Asian/exotic breeds are especially fond of it. (Fun fact: According to a recent study, Fluffy apparently teaches herself this game. Turns out, for the majority of people whose cats play fetch, the kitties started this behavior at random.)


Tricks: Did you know that some cats can learn tricks? Try teaching Fluffy Gimme Five, Sit, Roll Over, or Jump. Use small, high-value treats to reinforce the behavior. Also, use the same words or phrases every time.


Know When Your Cat Is Playing


Fluffy has a rather unique quirk, in that she is the only one of our animal companions that sometimes bites and scratches at us in an attempt to demonstrate affection. This can be confusing, to say the least. It probably doesn’t help that kitties can switch gears from play mode to attack mode at any time.


In general, a playful cat will not bite or scratch too hard. Your pet may try to ‘kick scratch you,’ but she will probably lose steam pretty quickly, and could suddenly decide to lick you instead of biting.


An angry cat will bite hard and hiss or growl. She may also flatten her ears and lash her tail, and she definitely won’t hold back. This may indicate a behavioral issue or even a medical problem. For more information, speak to your Plano, TX veterinarian.


Teach Your Cat To Play Nicely


If Fluffy hasn’t quite figured out the ins and outs of being a good kitty, you might have to guide her. Don’t reprimand her: she may just get scared, which can cause more issues.


It’s important to address biting and scratching as soon as possible. If you have a kitten, don’t let it go and assume you’ll fix it later. These tiny claws and teeth can cause injuries! This can lead to behavioral issues.


If Fluffy bites or scratches, immediately stop playing with her. Reprimand her vocally in a stern tone, but don’t yell or strike her. Consistency with phrasing is key. You can say ‘No’ or ‘Play Nice’. You can also tell Fluffy ‘Don’t bite’ or ‘Put your claws away.’ Then just ignore her for a while and walk away. Your furry friend will eventually learn.


No luck? Your best bet may be to mildly annoy Fluffy. Squirt her with water, blow in her face, or make a loud sound. You can also sound an alarm, clap your hands, or bang a pot together. This may be enough to get the point across. Cats hate loud noises. (Since cats spend 99.9 percent of their time sleeping, it’s not surprising that they prefer quiet places.) 


Another note on petiquette? We’d recommend that you use toys you can control from a distance. Be sure to put string toys up after each use. That way, Fluffy won’t get tangled if she tries to play by herself.


Provide Your Cat With Entertainment Options


Your furry pal may be a bit of a handful until she’s past that zoomy stage.


Fluffy may need ways to entertain herself. A window seat with a good view is one option. You’ll also want to give her a variety of toys. Puzzle feeders or cat wheels can be great options.


Don’t Worry About Overdoing It


Our feline friends may have very different opinions about some things, but almost all of them enjoy playing. Don’t spend too much time worrying about this one: if Fluffy gets tired or just isn’t feeling it, she’ll just walk away.


Get in touch with us, your local Plano, TX animal hospital, if you have any questions about caring for or playing with your cat.


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