Tips & Advice: The Health Benefits of Fun and Games

Posted by Sameen Shaw on

Hi everyone,

Please find below some useful tips in form of a Guest Post by the team from Pets at Home:

The Health Benefits of Fun and Games

Keeping your cat active, especially if they’re a house cat, is important to their health and well-being. Cats are intelligent creatures, and without stimulating activities they can become bored and frustrated – not to mention cats need to get enough exercise to keep them fit and healthy!

Why play?
Kittens and cats need to play for numerous reasons. As kittens, cats play with one another and you – their owner – to refine social and communication skills, so this is a great way to bond with your new pet. As they grow older, a kitten’s play changes and evolves, and by the time they reach 14 weeks, their play is directed mainly towards honing their instinctive stalking, pouncing, grasping, biting and climbing skills.

Play provides an outlet for your cat’s natural instincts, but it also helps to relieve boredom, prevents behaviour problems, and provides vital exercise to keep them fit and healthy.

Cats like movement, so the toy should be one that can move in unpredictable ways, mimicking a mouse or bird in the wild. They are particularly attracted to toys with different textures or that reflect light as they move.

You will find a wide variety of cat toys on the market – from balls to artificial mice, and fishing rod type toys which you can drag for your cat to chase, there are many options. However, as cat owners everywhere will testify, cats can be just as happy playing with everyday household objects like cotton reels, paper bags and cardboard boxes. Ensure any toy you introduce to your cat is safe for them to play with, and doesn’t have parts that could injure them.

When it comes to playing games with your cat, every animal will respond uniquely, so this is a great way to get to know your cat better and bond with them. Avoid playing rough and tumble or encouraging your cat to chase fingers or toes, as this could encourage bad behaviour. Some favourite games include:

Chasing – encouraging your cat to chase fishing-rod type toys across the floor. Don’t tease your cat with these toys or they may become frustrated – allow them to catch the toy before releasing and starting the chase again.

Hiding – cats like to ambush their prey, and a great way to re-create this environment in the house is with the use of a cardboard box, paper bag or somewhere else your cat can hide before pouncing on the toy.

Climbing – this is excellent exercise for cats and also a great way to file down their claws. A tiered scratching post or a cat climbing-frame are the best way to encourage this behaviour without damaging the furniture.

Whichever way you choose to play with your cat, you can guarantee that it will bring hours of fun and entertainment for both of you, and result in a contented, friendly kitty.

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