By Charmaine Ng
When time is all your cat has got to kill, initiating play with him or her will not only score you bonus brownie points but also benefit Kitty both physically and mentally.
#1 Let Puss Play Predator
Cats are natural hunters and are wont to pounce on or chase their prey. As you can imagine, domesticated felines are less likely to ever have the experience of hunting actual prey, with the exception of lizards and cockroaches, and the occasional rat. You can simulate hunting activity with toys such as radio-controlled mice, laser pointers or feather wands; this will help to satisfy their innate predatory instincts.
#2 Playtime = Exercise
Statistics show that most domesticated felines are overweight – this is largely caused by lack of exercise and a sedentary lifestyle. Obese or fat cats are more likely to develop health problems such as arthritis, diabetes, and poor grooming habits. Increasing Kitty’s physical activity can promote weight loss and muscle growth – keeping her in tiptop shape.
#3 Mental Workouts
While exercise the body is important, mentally stimulating your cat’s brain is just as important. When you dangle a toy in front of Kitty to chase, she’s not only exercising her motor skills, she’s performing cognitive gymnastics to assess the situation. To keep your cat from getting bored or too used to a single toy, create a roster of toys and rotate them – this also keeps things challenging and forces Kitty to think harder.
#4 Bond Building
Playtime provides much needed physical and mental stimulation, which leads to a happier and healthier kitty. This results in a confident and relaxed kitty, which will help her to feel positively about you and other pets or humans in the house. Many cat behaviourists encourage using play as a tool to getting kittens socialised and engaged.
#5 Promoting Good Behaviour
Oftentimes, bad or unwanted behaviour such as urine marking or aggression is caused by undue stress or anxiety in cats. When you engage Kitty in playtime, it eliminates the tension and stress she may be feeling due to boredom or lack of stimulation.