Have you ever stopped what you were doing to watch your cat play as if she were still a kitten? Playing is crucial for your cat as it allows her to satisfy her natural instincts, such as observing, exploring, climbing, pouncing, and catching. But playing is more than that - it is also a sign that your cat is well and in good health, that she is sufficiently stimulated, and that she has a balanced lifestyle, all of which contribute to her overall wellbeing. So pounce on the opportunity to nurture and maintain your cat’s love for playing throughout her life!
Dr Sandra Mc Cune, scientist at WALTHAM®. For your kitten, the most minor experiences may have a lasting effect on her behaviour for the rest of her life. During this crucial period, play is a natural behaviour that your kitten will adopt to perfect her learning, to discover her environment and, more importantly, to learn to trust and bond with other human beings and animals in her environment.
PLAYING IS CRUCIAL FOR KITTEN’S DEVELOPMENT
A word from the Dr Corinne Lesaine, consulting veterinarian for Perfect Fit™: “Playing is key to your kitten's healthy development and especially to her mental development throughout the socialisation stages. It is therefore recommended that you take full advantage of, and encourage, your kitten's innate curiosity. Such curiosity may easily be stimulated with fast and unpredictable movements of small objects and toys that will capture her full attention. Small soft objects are also ideal for intriguing you curious little friend. You may also consider stimulating her with the presence of other pets, thereby encouraging interaction through playfulness.”
There are a number of games which your kitten will simply not be able to resist engaging in: playing hide and seek in a cardboard box, dangling any soft item, presenting her with a feather to catch, swiftly pulling small objects from under her nose for her to pounce on, and poking small intriguing objects in and out of her sight. Just be sure to keep your hands out of the game, or they will be perceived as prey! Also, we would recommend to try and avoid frustrating her by never letting her win - no one likes to lose over and over again, especially not at a young age!
Your kitten will also love playing with rattling objects, especially when she finds out that the rattling comes from the kibbles inside. You may quite easily craft homemade devices such as a perforated empty plastic bottle filled with kibble that slowly dispenses kibbles when played with!
PLAYTIME WITH YOUR CAT
From an owner's perspective, play is one of the most rewarding, fun and pleasant way to keep your adult cat stimulated and fit. Though your fully-grown cat will undoubtedly have invented a number of fun games to distract herself, nothing stops you from proposing alternative games to keep her on her toes! Ping-pong balls, for example, are a great way to engage the playfulness of your little feline friend. Though not your standard cat toy, cardboard boxes are nearly always a hit with cats as they love to hide in them, push them and scratch them; just don't let them chew them! The same obsession goes for little, preferably furry, objects as they bring out the predator that lies within.
Optimising your vertical indoor space will also open up a whole new world for your agile friend and will increase exposure to varied stimulations. From climbing to hiding, to observing, your cat will love getting some height to watch the goings on within her sight and these new spots may also prove to be good sleeping areas for your cat! You may also want to consider moving the furniture around every now and then to allow her to explore new places and new vantage points from which she can keep an eye on you!
As the years go by, your cat is likely to become less playful and less active, which is normal. Some cats will play past the age of 8, and some won't. However, whatever her age, you can always attempt to engage your friend in some quality playtime, but just know that she may prefer to not respond!
WAYS TO PLAY WITH YOUR OLDER CAT
The change in behaviour of older cats is most often associated with a decrease in their senses and their organ functions. With reduced mobility, your cat may become less tempted to explore, or even to play, and might adopt a generally more sedentary lifestyle. At this stage of your cat’s life, all you can do is attempt to stir that more laidback form of playfulness by tickling her feline spirit, the one that loves to watch birds outside or that loves to swipe at dangling objects.