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10-Minute Games to Play with Your Cat

Cats love to play — and love it when you play with them! You’ve probably watched your cat play on their own, but their highly developed hunter instinct makes playing with others much more fun than playing alone. At least 20 to 30 minutes of daily play is a good starting place for most cats — try out these quick games and see how much play your feline friend prefers!

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FETCH: NOT JUST FOR DOGS

Contrary to popular belief, cats can and do enjoy playing fetch! But the game looks a little different than when you play fetch with dogs.

Choose the Right Toy

  • You can throw it all the way across the room.
  • It’s easy (and safe) for your cat to carry it in their mouth.

Throw the toy and watch as your cat leaps to chase it — you might be surprised to see your cat bringing it back to you to throw again! Reinforce this behavior with petting or healthy treats to let them know they’re doing a good job.
If your cat doesn’t bring the toy all the way back, try encouraging them to carry it to you. While they’re still learning the game, you’ll get a little exercise, too — by fetching the toy yourself and tossing it again.

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CRINKLE TOYS: THE JOY OF CRUMPLED PAPER

Cats love toys that make crinkle sounds, and not just the ones that come from fancy toys. Crumple up a small piece of paper and bat it around the floor for your cat to chase, wrestle and catch.

Keep an eye on your cat to make sure they don’t chew the paper or swallow it, and when you’re finished playing with it together, throw the paper away so it doesn’t become a safety hazard.

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CAT-FISHING: PLAYING WITH FEATHERS AND STRING

Get a wand toy or make your own with a stick, a string and a bell or feather. Pull it slowly away from your cat’s view and watch as your cat lunges after it around corners and under furniture, and even jumps to catch it in the air.

Be sure the small pieces of the jingling, feathery lure are well-secured and fully intact before and after each play session, as swallowing parts of this delightful toy would be unsafe for your pet.

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HIDE AND SEEK: EXPLORING A PAPER BAG

Skip the fancy three-level scratching post or elaborate feline swing set: an empty paper bag can easily become one of your cat’s favorite toys. While cats are known for exploring bags on their own, you can turn any bag into a game to play together.

Lay the bag on its side so your cat can go all the way in. Once they’re in the bag, scratch and gently poke the sides as your cat bats at the movements and sounds you make. Feel free to swap for an empty cardboard box if you have one handy — it’s a great way to give your paper recyclables a whole new purpose!

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CHASE THE LIGHT, CATCH THE TOY

Cats enjoy chasing reflected lights, so try different ways to bounce light around for them with a watch, a phone screen or other shiny item. Bounce it low onto a wall, the floor or another safe surface for your cat to chase it on.

Chasing something like light that can never be caught can frustrate your cat after a while, so once they’ve had some good exercise, switch to a catchable toy so they can feel victorious.

A note about safety: It’s a good idea to use reflected light instead of laser pointers, as laser pointers can cause damage to your cat’s eyes.

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SCREEN TIME FOR CATS? ABSOLUTELY!

Toddlers love tablets and so do cats! Now you can even download tablet games specifically designed with cats in mind. These apps feature moving fish, mice and other motion graphics. While playing games on a screen doesn’t give cats a rigorous workout, it will certainly keep your cat’s curiosity piqued.

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ROTATE YOUR CAT’S TOYS TO KEEP THEM EXCITING

Cats enjoy variety as much as we do, but you don’t need to buy new toys to keep things interesting for them. Instead, try rotating toys in and out of circulation (just like you would holiday decorations or seasonal clothing) to keep them feeling fresh and new.

Set a few out for them to enjoy and keep the rest securely hidden. That way you can present your cat with a “new” toy every few days without heading to the pet store. Your cat will never get tired of the toy collection, and you’ll save time and money.

Your cat may seem content to play on their own, but there’s nothing better than getting some playful quality time with their beloved pet parent. Playing with you gives them a chance to get exercise, embrace their hunter instincts and enjoy the kind of sensory enrichment cats crave. It’s all part of caring for them and giving them a healthy, happy life.

 

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