Kittens and cats are known for their playful natures. When cats chase their toys and play hide-and-goseek, they aren't merely working off excess energy. Cats also engage in play to hone their natural hunting skills and work out their innate needs to wrestle and explore.
Playtime with people also helps your cat bond with humans. Here are four tips to have healthy, fun experiences with your cat and their toys.
1. Offer Your Kitten a Stuffed Friend
Kittens practice stalking, grasping, and grappling skills on their littermates. Two kittens will hug each other fiercely, dig their claws in, and refuse to let go. They may also bite with their new teeth and kick with their hind legs. Two wrestling kittens may repeatedly roll over as one determined unit of aggression.
Kittens raised alone will try to do the same thing to your foot or hand if you don't provide discipline and teaching aids. When raising a lone kitten, offer your pet a stuffed littermate to tackle and chew. When your kitten attacks your hand with teeth or claws, sharply say, "No," and hand your kitten the stuffed toy to grapple instead.
Choose a stuffed wrestling toy that's slightly larger than your kitten. Your kitten may be overwhelmed by a too-large stuffed toy and will quickly outgrow a too-small toy. The toy should be kitten-safe, with no buttons or attachments that are choking hazards.
2. Put Away Toys After Play Sessions
Cats, like human kids, grow accustomed to toys that are always within reach. After your cat loses interest in a toy, put it away. Store your cat's toys where the cat doesn't have access. A basket or bin makes a tidy storage tote.
Rotate the toys that your cat plays with to keep your cat busy and entertained. Instead of cluttering up the floors, your cat's collection of toys becomes a fresh source of experiences as old toys are reintroduced.
If your cat plays with certain toys all day, create a lost-and-found game for your cat. Hide their favorite toys in fun spots around your home. Your cat can explore and hunt down familiar belongings while you're away, which can help reduce your cat's boredom and loneliness.
3. Create Your Own Cat Toys
Make your own interesting toys out of household items. For example, a simple shoe box can become an intriguing puzzle. Simply cut holes of various sizes in the box top. Place toys and treats inside the box, put the cover in place, and watch your cat use its paws and its wits to remove the boxed items.
Consider other ideas, as well. A crumpled piece of paper will roll as well as a toy ball when your cat bats it across the room. Or a large cardboard box can become a mysterious tunnel when placed on its side. Even an old shoelace tied to a sock becomes prey if you scoot it along the floor.
4. Entice a Bored Cat With Catnip
Catnip can send cats into fits of ecstasy. However, catnip toys lose their essence over time. Refresh your cat's herbal playthings by rubbing fresh catnip plants on stuffed mice and other toys.
You can also purchase toys that hold fresh or dried catnip inside. Simply recharge the toys with catnip as recommended on the package. For a convenient alternative, ask your veterinarian about catnip sprays that can be spritzed on your cat's toys.
Put catnip-infused or filled toys away after your cat uses the items. Cats can easily build up tolerance to catnip when they're always exposed to the herb.
Store catnip-filled toys in a sealed bag in the freezer to retain maximum freshness between play sessions. Bring the catnip-filled toys out of storage once a week or so to give your cat a special playtime treat.
Learn more about your cat's energy levels and playtime needs by contacting South San Diego Veterinary Hospital today. We offer traditional medicine and a full array of alternative treatment for felines in Greater South San Diego, California.