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Allen Jack
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Allen Jack|United States


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Why Do Cats Play And How To Do It Right With Them?

Jul 18, 2020

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The Importance of Cat Games

 

Anyone who has ever had the experience of a sufficiently long conversation with a cat (and especially a kitten) knows how these animals like to play, run headlong after a ball or toy or jump where it should and where it should not. Cats are very playful and curious creatures! But are games only useful for kittens, or are they important at any age? How to play with kitten and cat? What will happen if you do not pay enough attention to games?

Why Do Kittens Play?

 

To begin, let's turn to the question of why kittens play so actively. Games for them allow you to solve several important tasks at once, form the basis of behavior in adulthood. In general, like all animals, in cats, almost everything is laid in childhood.

Firstly, in the process of games, kittens develop muscular, musculoskeletal and nervous systems.

Secondly, with the help of games, kittens learn the world around them, learn to communicate with relatives and humans, copying some of the actions and habits of mother cats and their brothers and sisters, and acquire the skills necessary for adulthood. And this is typical not only for domestic cats, but also for their wild ancestors, and for other representatives of the cat family. In this sense, domestic kittens and little cubs are very similar!

 

That is why at least up to 3 months a kitten should not be torn off from mom. Even the most loving owner will not be able to fully teach the kitten all the necessary skills. Kittens that have not passed games with their peers in the future will be unable to communicate properly with other animals, and they get along with a person much worse.

Thirdly, with the help of games, kittens improve their hunting instincts. And this brings us to understand why cats play exactly the way we are used to seeing.

Game like A Hunt

 

Representatives of the cat family in the course of evolution have developed hunting tactics based on stealing, sneaking and a sharp throw. Any experienced cat man will say that all this can be seen in games with a domestic cat!

That is why a cat, as a rule, does not react in any way to lazy waving a toy on a "fishing rod" in front of its nose. If a kitten, especially between the ages of 2 and 6 months, can enthusiastically rush at everything that moves, then adult animals become much more selective. Your cat will immediately understand that this strange thing right in front of him is not prey. And why waste your energy on her?!

Right Games Play With Cats

 

So, if playing with a kitten is more or less clear, then how to play with an adult cat? It is necessary to imitate the hunting process. To begin with, put the toy at a certain distance from the pet, but so that it falls into its field of vision. Due to natural curiosity, a cat will definitely pay attention to it. Give him some time to assess the situation, and then begin to slowly move the toy (the “fishing rods” will be most convenient) so that it gradually disappears from its field of vision. Few cats can resist and not run after prey! Consider that the game has begun.

During the game, use not only the horizontal, but also the vertical. It will be especially successful if your house has a vertical cat house, special shelves and other surfaces above the floor where the cat is allowed access. Try using a toy to make it not only run around the room, but also jump. It will be interesting to you and to her.

Change the speed and direction, do not let the cat predict your next movement, otherwise it will get tired of it quickly. You can stop for a few moments, give the cat the opportunity to again “catch” his gaze on the toy, then again begin to slowly move it, and when the cat rushes after it, and abruptly throw it to the other side and to another vertical level. For a cat at the moment this will be not just a toy, but something like a bird (even if your cat has never been on the street, instincts will tell her).

In addition to "fishing rods", for games you can use balls, balls, "bows", "mice". A regular cardboard box will also be a good solution - your cat, due to natural curiosity, will definitely want to examine it, and possibly choose it as a place for rest or ambush.

What Should You Do In No Case?

But in games with both kittens and adults it is necessary to observe three basic rules.

1) Do Not Squeeze Or Brake The Cat: She will not appreciate it. The least patient, this can even provoke aggression. Only after the end of the game is it worth patting the pet, thereby showing what a good hunter he is.

2) Toys Must Be Involved in the Game:  By no means your hands! Otherwise, weaning the cat will be very difficult. Indeed, you yourself showed her that to hunt for your arms (and legs) is not only possible, but necessary!

3) Do Not Abuse the Laser Pointer:  If it is worth using, it is only for the initial attraction of attention, and when this stage is completed, it is better to switch to ordinary toys. That's because the game for the cat must have an incentive, give some positive reinforcement. And since the game is a kind of hunt, it will catch prey as such. The cat will not be able to catch the “light”, it will gradually begin to get angry and annoyed, in the end it may even lose interest in games. The same applies to all other toys - the hunt must end in the fact that the cat catches the "prey".

What about Adults?

We found that kittens must play, but do adult cats need games? By all means! Adult cats also play, and do it almost as willingly as kittens.. Even being in a limited space, cats tend to play, often trying to attract guests to this.

In general, it is an instinct laid down by nature. Ignoring it, In addition to some discomfort for the cat, can lead to very serious consequences.

In the natural habitat of their wild ancestors, hunting was an essential part of life, nature prepared them for this. Now the domestic cat gets food without wasting energy on hunting. As a result, one of two problems can arise. Either the pet begins to suffer from obesity due to a passive lifestyle, or he independently finds ways to throw out excess energy. Often the owners do not like these methods, because the result may well be overturned things, spoiled furniture, excessive night activity.

All this is enough to simply avoid if you play with the cat at least 3 times a day for 15-20 minutes. Moreover, according to experts, it is better to do this before giving the animal food. In this way, the cat’s natural life cycle will be imitated. This will make your pet's lifestyle quite active (provided that the game process is organized correctly), and the problem of excess energy will disappear.

Game as A Way to Make Friends with A Cat

 

Agree, 3 times for 15-20 minutes a day is quite a bit, if this will help keep your cat healthy. At the same time, you will enjoy communicating with your pet. According to experts in feline behavior, it is the game that is the best way to build a trusting relationship between a cat and the owner, especially if this relationship cracked at some point or the cat came to you as an adult.

So, we found out that games are equally important for kittens and adults, the game imitates hunting for them, therefore the toy should “behave” like live prey: do not flicker all the time right in front of the cat’s eyes, but freeze and move around, run away, hide, “take off” (play not only on the floor!) and so on.