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If you want a buddy to catch a ball for you or generally interact with you in games and playtimes, your mind will probably turn first to the dog, a popular companion for people of all ages that really knows how to have a good time!
However, cats are playful too, and love to interact with their owners in games, mock-hunting and other forms of entertainment. While some cats are a lot more inquisitive and interested in play than others, most cats can be convinced to chase a piece of string or pounce on something now and then, regardless of their age or breed! Play is not only entertaining for you to watch and take part in with your cat, but also provides a wide range of benefits for your cat as well. In this article, we will look at five good reasons behind why enabling and making provision for your cat to play is so important. Read on to learn more!
Cats are widely known to spend long periods of their lives asleep, with many cats sleeping for around 16 hours per day in total, broken up and interspersed with periods of activity. When your cat is actually awake, they should be getting some exercise and working their muscles at times, in order to keep them supple, fit and healthy, and keep their weight within healthy parameters.
Encouraging your cat to play or move around, including stretching, running and jumping are all really good for your cat, and can help to keep them fit and healthy well into old age.
As your cat ages, they will naturally become slightly less supple, active and fit, and may tire more easily, sleep more, and become less active. Playing with your cat will not only help to prolong their healthy life and keep them fit and supple for as long as possible, but will also allow you to observe any changes in your cat as they age, such as stiffness, being unable to jump as high, or general loss of energy, so that you can make any necessary changes to their care and feeding regime to support this.
Play is not only good in terms of keeping your cat physically fit, but also helps to keep their minds sharp and active as well! Keeping your cat’s mind active for as long as possible can help to slow down brain aging as your cat gets older, and keep them alert and interested in what is going on around them.
Interactive play such as trailing a feather or string for your cat to follow is one way to go about this, as is buying small, rolling toys such as ping pong balls that you can flick around on lino, tiles or wooden flooring for your cat to chase! Other toys such as cat climbing frames, moving mobiles and puzzle games such as wheels with a ball trapped within them are also good, to keep your cat thinking and problem solving, and working out how to win their prize!
All cats, regardless of their breed, have inbuilt hunting instincts, and while the queen of your cat’s litter will actually start teaching their kittens how to hunt, even hand-reared kittens display hunting traits, and take to it very naturally!
The hunting instincts of some breeds of cats such as the Abyssinian and the Bengal also seem to be particularly pronounced, and these, together with a whole range of other breeds are highly likely to begin attempting to catch small rodents or even more ambitious prey when they go out!
While some people assume that encouraging your cat into mock-hunting play will actually further hone their hunting instincts and make them more likely to hunt for live prey, the reality of the situation is that cats require no help in this department, and if they are going to hunt, they will do this whether you play hunting games with them or not!
However, interacting with your cat by means of enabling mock-hunting games can help to curb the hunting instinct, as it both gives them an outlet for their natural prey drive, and also, tires them out somewhat too!
Anything that you do together with your cat, such as sitting with your cat on your lap, grooming them, talking to them or playing with them will help to generate and reinforce your bond with your cat, and bring you closer together. Many people who have never owned cats or who do not understand cats think that cats only pay attention to humans because humans are where the food comes from, but cats are actually very affectionate, loving animals that form strong bonds with their immediate owners.
Playtime, like other interactions with your cat, will help to reinforce your bond with your cat, adding rewards and entertainment for the both of you.
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