Monday, July 11, 2016

How much do you play with your cats?

Our house looks like a daycare for cats. Toys spread over the floor of the den and kitty room. Mousies, jingle balls, plush toys, things that light up, toys that make a crinkly noise. Lots of toys.

We have three young cats. They have lots of toys. So they should be playing with each other, right? They don’t need interactive play with me, right?

When I first became a cat person, more than 16 years ago, that’s what I thought. But as I lived with cats and learned more about them, I learned that cats need interactive playtime with us. “The Importance of Playtime for Cats” and “What’s Play Got to Do With It?” are two good articles that explain why play is so important to cats.

I have been especially reminded of this since we adopted Connor. Sometimes he attacks my ankles or starts climbing on things inappropriately. I find that a round of energetic play uses some of his energy and eases some of the boredom that is probably driving his behavior.

Every evening, at around 7 p.m., the cats start hanging around a room we call the “futon room.” It’s a room that—you guessed it—has a futon it in, my desk and computer station, bookcases, and filing cabinets. The important thing about it is that it’s not carpeted.

If I don’t show up quickly enough, they find me wherever I am in the house and sit and look at me. It’s playtime!

We play together with various toys for about 15 to 25 minutes, depending on their mood. We chase mousies, play with wand toys, chase a mechanical butterfly, and play with track toys. The current favorite toy is Da Bird. Abbey and Natasha especially enjoy it, jumping and snatching the bird and basically having it for lunch.

Connor has a favorite toy that we call the “comfort toy.” Abbey used to drag it around when she was stressed. Now Connor does. But he also likes to play with it. I run around the house with it dragging behind me, getting Connor to chase it.

After playtime, they seem to like settling down for the evening. Connor doesn’t climb all over things and doesn’t attack my ankles. And I know I’ve given them the opportunity to practice those stalking and hunting skills.

My goal is to add more playing in the early morning before I go to work.

Do your cats like interactive play? What are their favorite toys? 


  1. Playtime always brings much joy! The boys give the cats tons of attention and playtime all day.

  2. This is wonderful! It's a great way to burn off excess energy.

  3. Wish I could get our two 12 year-old cats on a regular play schedule, but neither get into the groove much. Angel rarely plays, and only with dangly ropey things. Chuck likes to pounce on stuff that is hidden then pops out. As a kitten, I could get on one side of a door and push toys underneath, much to his enjoyment.

  4. Our all time favorite toys are Neko Fly (the Kittenator mousie end) and the red dot. OMC, can we really race around with those two!

  5. guys..we sorta play when we feel like it any mor...we guess we haz two much
    senior nezz round de land oh trout...but when we find we iz in de mood ta play; stix iz R fav o rite game oh all time ~~~~ ♥♥♥

  6. you may remember that i am not a cat person, and that i am allergic!! i do enjoy reading about your cat adventures...and there is no sneezing involved!!!!

  7. Y'know, the mom doesn't play with us nearly as much as we would like her to. Our house looks like a kitty daycare too.

  8. I am glad my house isn't the only one that looks like a kitty daycare :) You are a great kitty Mom to keep them so amused.

  9. Now I am feeling guilty. I used to play with Cody EVERY night at 6pm...he loves to chase his furry Neko mouse......we call it the "Silly Game".....I haven't played it with him in about a month (I hate to admit it). He DOES play with Dakota quite a bit but I really need to go back to my old after dinner routine. Thanks for the wake-up call! catchatwithcarenandcody

  10. Our house looks like your house. Toys everywhere! Cat things everywhere! But it's home and it's perfect. :-) Our cats do play quite well with each other, but no one can make that feather toy dance quite like a human can.

  11. We keep most of Gracie and Zoe's toys in a big basket, and if we don't play with them on time, Gracie will go over to the basket as a reminder. Gracie loves the mouse on a wire toy, and Zoe loves the laser and the fleecy wand. :)

  12. It's nice that you know what your kit-cats like to do! I love playing with toys alone and with Mom. Cammie just likes playing with toys alone; she's not into chasing or anything. (Except for chasing ME!)
    Yours sincerely,
    Margaret Thatcher