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Posted on 12-13-2016

Attention All Current and Future Cat Lovers!

In recognition of December being National Cat Lovers Month (yes, it’s a thing), I wanted to talk all about kitties! We talk a lot about dogs on here, so instead I wanted offer a few tips on how to have fun with your cat.

Why Play with My Cat?

According to the Ohio State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, playing with your cat helps create a stronger bond. Through play, you also reduce the incidence of obesity, improve rambunctious nighttime behavior, and prevent future behavioral problems. Cats aren’t far removed from the wild cats they descended from; this means you’ll need to help placate their natural hunting instincts.  Basically you have a tiny cougar living in your house! Even though cats are known for their ability to sleep for long periods of the day, they still need exercise and stimulation to stay happy.

How Do I Play with My Cat?

Rotate through a variety of toys to see which of them your feline prefers. My kitty, Gremlynn, LOVES crinkle ball toys and bats them around the kitchen floor for hours. She also likes feather toys, but tires of them quickly. Any object or toy that simulates a mouse or a bird is likely a winner, but be careful with string of any kind as it poses a huge risk to your cat if ingested.

(My kitty Gremlynn when she was 12 weeks old)

If your kitty is food motivated, you can also teach him or her how to play fetch. Put a favorite toy on a line, then throw the toy and reel it in. Once it is reeled in all the way, you reward kitty with a treat. Repeat this process and eventually they’ll figure it out (maybe, you never know with cats!). If you are giving quite a few treats during play, make sure to count those as part of your cat’s total calories for the day. It is very important not to overfeed your kitty as obesity causes a number of health problems (see our blog on diabetes). Gremlynn really likes the C.E.T. Enzymatic Oral Hygiene Chews (plus they are good for her teeth!).

If your cat isn’t into a lot of stimulating play, try setting out an empty box. Every cat lover knows that an empty box is like the feline Taj Mahal! Cut some holes into an empty box and once your kitty goes inside, brush a toy across the holes. Your cat will go crazy (in a good way) shoving its paws through the holes for the toy.

With their naturally agile bodies and excellent problem solving skills, cats are AMAZING at agility! If you're looking for a more intense type of training and exercise, agility is a fun way to expel excess energy and hone athletic ability in your kitty. Obstacle courses can even be made of things already available around the house. Here are a few suggestions for kitty obstacles.

Don’t Cats Need to Go Outside?

Many cats spend at least some of the time outside. I only allow Gremlynn outside supervised, she always wears a collar with identification, and she is microchipped (learn more about microchipping). Cats who stay inside exclusively tend to get bored easily. Play helps with this, but it is also possible to allow them some outdoor time in a safe way. Training your cat to walk on a leash and harness is one way to have supervised outdoor time, especially if you don’t have a fenced yard. If your yard is fenced but your cat climbs out of it, there is cat fencing available like this.

A “catio” is another great option for a safe outdoor space. It is essentially an outdoor box or walkway that is fully enclosed but allows your cat to observe the outside world. Here is some information on learning how to build a catio on Animal Planet’s website.

For some more information on toys and games to play with your cat, check out PetMD’s suggestions! But most importantly,  be sure to play with your furry friend at least once every day.

Comment and let us know what things you like to do with your cat!

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