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Our furry cats get a bad rap for being lazy, sleeping all day, and generally turning their noses up at most things.
This is thanks to the famous kittens like Garfield and Grumpy Cat. And while many cats are content with sitting on a windowsill all day, taking a nap and watching the world go by, that doesn’t mean cats don’t need or enjoy games.
“What a lot of pet parents don’t realize is that playing isn’t all about fun and games, when it comes to cats. For cats in the wild, gambling is serious business, helping kittens learn vital survival skills such as stalking, hunting, and trapping prey. “Even if your cat never ventures outside your home, this basic instinct for hunting can stay strong. That’s why it’s important to give our cats the ability to playfully express this natural behavior, ”said Marycke Ackhurst, pet behavior expert at Hill’s Pet Nutrition.
Kittens and adult cats are both stimulated by the same type of play, although kittens don’t need a lot of encouragement to get started.
Here are a few reasons why it is important to play with your cat regularly:
• Obese pets are unhappy and live shorter lives. Obesity is the biggest health problem that pets face today. Some of the main causes of obesity in cats are overeating and lack of active play. Healthy cats who spend a lot of time outdoors will get plenty of exercise from hunting, playing, and exploring. Sometimes, if a cat spends too much time indoors, he or she may gain weight from lack of exercise. Exercising your cat isn’t difficult, however. Not only will it help your cat lose weight, but it will also have a huge impact on your pet’s overall health and happiness.
• Has your cat scratched furniture excessively, is it much louder than normal, or has a fight with the other pets in the house? If so, she may be showing signs of stress. Just like humans, stressed cats can act and be perceived as mischievous or naughty. To keep your cat from becoming stressed, make sure he has adequate opportunities for mental and physical stimulation, especially those that will serve as a starting point for his hunting instinct. Engage them with play. Any toy will do, even makeshift homemade ones, that is, a piece of string tied on an empty toilet roll.
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• Cats over the age of nine can have arthritis in their joints. However, regular play can help your cat maintain muscle tone to prevent this painful condition. As they get older, you may need to change play activities, but make sure your cat is busy. Older cats may like a slightly slower or simpler interactive cat toy on the floor, like an ice cube tray with their regular food.
• Play teaches kittens various things, including important hunting and predatory skills, and helps develop coordination. If you have more than one kitten, playing with each other can help develop social skills and learn boundaries.
• Playing with your cat consistently can help build and strengthen your bond. Watching the excitement in your cat’s body language as she “chases” her toy mouse or leaps in the air to catch a piece of string releases happy hormones for both you and your furry cat.
When it comes to how often you want your cat to play, Ackhurst explained that two play sessions a day would be fantastic for both you and your cat. Playing just before bed (or even adding a third one) can help calm a cat that gets into trouble at night. If your cat doesn’t feel like playing for the first time, don’t be discouraged.
Keep trying and you will find out how and when your cat likes to play. Just like children, all cats enjoy the same type of games. Together, try to find out the games that will awaken the leopard in you.
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