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?