The other day, I was sitting in my living room reading when I heard a commotion on the landing below. I got up to check, and found Allegra and Ruby intently following the movements of a small moth, and occasionally pouncing on it. They rarely play together, so even though I felt sorry for the moth, it was delightful to see the two of them in cahoots like this.
True to form, Allegra mostly watched and waited, while Ruby batted the moth around. Occasionally, Allegra would take a half-hearted swat at it, but she seemed to have more fun watching Ruby play. After a minute or two, I went to get the camera.
As I was filming the video below, I reflected on how this was a reminder of our housecats’ true nature: even while they enjoy a happy and safe life indoors, they’re still hunters at heart. It’s easy to forget this when they bat around cute stuffed mice or go after fake birds attached to wand toys.
Watching Ruby go after the moth also reinforced for me why it’s so important to nurture this hunting instinct with interactive play. The best kind of play is the kind that mimics hunting in the wild. Make it interesting for your cats. Don’t just toss a toy. Wiggle a wand toy across the room, up and down furniture, and around corners. Vary your speed. When your cat catches her “prey,” let her bat at it or grab it, but then try to get it away from her again, just like a prey animal would try to escape from a cat in the wild.
At the end of the play session, slow things down. Show your cat that her “prey” is getting tired. Always end a play session with your cat catching her toy, otherwise you’ll find yourself with a frustrated cat who will take her leftover excess energy out in ways you may not approve of, such as scratching your furniture, or biting your ankles.
Here’s the video of Allegra, Ruby and the moth. Viewer discretion is advised: the poor moth does not stand a chance against Ruby.
How do you nurture your cat’s hunting instinct?