Published by: Ingrid King. Last Updated on: November 1, 2022 by Crystal Uys


Play is vitally important to a cat’s mental and physical health, and it’s especially important for indoor cats. Even though cats may sleep up to 16 hours a day, when they’re awake, they need stimulation, and the best way to accomplish this is with play. In the wild, when lions, tigers and other wild cats aren’t sleeping, they’re either hunting, or teaching their young to hunt. And play is nothing more than channelng your domestic tiger’s hunting instinct into play.

Toys that simulate play and satisfy a cat’s innate hunting drive will be most effective for creating a fun play experience for your cat that also helps her burn off excess energy. However, different cats have different play styles, and it’s up to you to figure out what really gets your kitty excited.

And don’t just wave a wand toy in front of your cat – that’s not how cats naturally hunt. Make interactive play interesting by alternating toys, changing the speed with which you drag them, and varying the distance between the toy and your cat. In essence, you want to give your cat the full hunting experience.

Play not only keeps your cat happy and healthy, playing together is fun for both of you and a wonderful way to increase your bond.

Dr. Mikel Delgado has created a fantastic resource on interactive play on her website, What Your Cat Wants.


You can also download the graphic as a PDF here.

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3 Comments on Have You Played With Your Cat Today?

  1. My Fig wants a full hunting experience every time we play. She could stalk toys for hours, I have to build piles of tissue paper and craft paper crumpled up around boxes and other things like cat beds and tubes. And of course Sheer Fun for Cats! If it is the same experience every time she gets so bored so easily. We run around the house sometimes chasing different toys. She loves it when I toss silvervine twigs for her to chase after or leather shoestrings with knots. She loves for me to make obstacle courses for her to hunt in and being covered with different fabrics and paper to hide. And we play similarly when we go for walks outside but I let her stalk birds and squirrels and bugs (I only let her catch safe bugs!) too. She loves running after twigs and long sprigs from grasses with fuzzy seeds on the ends. She is also very devoted to a play-hunt-eat cycle – but the amount she eats while playing is very small and requires a lot of play time before stopping for a snack. She is very connected to her biological drives and instinct behaviors and I’m really proud of how she communicates her needs to me and wants me to join in. Her sisters are much less intense!

  2. Ramses is picky about what and how he likes to play. He has taught me how to play fetch but the feather wand is our favorite toy. Playing with it is our “bonding” time and I always reward him with a treat for doing a good job (i.e., chasing, catching, and mauling). He’s a fast learner, too – it took him no time at all to learn “come, sit” (again receiving a treat reward).

    I think the most important thing I’ve taken away from these interactions is that he really looks forward to them. More so than any other cat I’ve lived with.

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