Playing games with your cat can be fun for both you and your pet. They not only provide mental stimulation and exercise for your cat, but they also help you to bond with them, building trust and affection between the two of you.
Cats are biologically programmed to pursue prey, so they’d much prefer to play with you than play alone. And while we’ve all probably held out some string and encouraged our cats to chase it, there are lots of other equally simple and enjoyable games you can try.
Here’s our top ten games to play with your feline friend, from the traditional to the digital, all of which can give your cat a great workout in 10 minutes or less.
1. Crumpled paper
As the name suggests, simply crumple up a piece of paper, roll it across the floor. and leave your cat to do the rest. Most cats can’t resist the sound of paper being crumpled, and will love to push it or carry it around the room. Just watch out for your cat shredding the paper ball, as your room will be covered with confetti before you know it!
2. A piece of string
Probably the simplest game of all, yet a piece of string or wool can provide endless entertainment for your cat. Simply drag the string across the floor and watch them stalk and chase it. Remember to put it away after the game, as you don’t want your furry friend to swallow the string.
3. Feather and string
Take it one step further and tie a feather to the end of the string. Entice your cat by dangling it in front of them and pulling it away quickly – watch as they follow it around corners and under furniture, jumping and lunging as they go!
4. Ping pong
A simple ping pong ball can provide lots of fun for you and your cat. Simply bounce the ball against the floor or wall, and let your cat try to catch it. Their contortions and twists will make them look like a feline gymnast as they try to swipe at the ball.
5. Play fetch
It’s not only dogs that love to play fetch – cats love it too! Choose a toy that they can easily carry in their mouth, and make sure that you throw it right across the room. Your cat will love to leap around and retrieve it, and may eventually learn to bring it back to you so that you can throw it again. If your cat does bring it back, give them praise either by petting or with a healthy treat.
6. A simple paper bag
Lie an empty paper shopping bag on its side, and then poke and scratch the sides to encourage your cat into the bag. Your cat will quite happily play at pursuing this unknown prey from within the bag, attempting to catch your fingers.
7. One potato, two potato
You’ve probably played this game as a child, but try playing it with your cat. They’ll soon learn to put their paws on your hand, and will play for as long as you’re willing to play.
8. Rotate their toys
If your cat has a collection of shop-bought toys, rather than simply leave them all out at once, let your cat play with one or two for a couple of days, and then put those away and bring out a new selection. Your cat will find it more interesting, and will be more likely to engage in play.
9. Use an app for cats
As we become more and more technology savvy, it’s hardly surprising that you can now download games for your cat onto your tablet. A combination of moving fish, mice and other enticing graphics will keep your cat occupied as they try to catch their digital prey.
10. Install a cat cam
Although strictly not a game you play with your cat, it can be great fun to monitor what your cat does at home while you’re not there by setting up a camera in your home. Alternatively, why not try programming Skype to automatically answer when you call? You’ll not only be able to see what they’re getting up to while they’re home alone, but you can interact with your cat from your workplace, or even while you’re on the move.
A couple of 10-minute play sessions per day will keep your cat stimulated and happy
All of the above games are really simple to play and will take up relatively little of your time. Ideally your cat should be given the opportunity to play for between 20 – 30 minutes each day, and you can easily incorporate two of these activities into even the busiest of schedules.
And the best thing of all? Your cat will greatly benefit from the mental stimulation and the extra level of physical activity, and you’ll get to spend time with your feline friend in a completely different way.