When we think of a playful, rambunctious pet, we often think of a dog. But cats love to play too! Like all other animals, each cat will have different personality traits, and they may not like all the same games another cat does.
The age of your cat matters too. If you adopt an older cat, they will already have many habits formed from previous life experiences and relationships. If you decide to get a kitten, they are more malleable and more likely to adapt to games that you teach them.
In either case, it doesn’t hurt to try multiple toys, games, or activities with your cat to discover what they truly enjoy. These experiences can help bond your relationship together and keep your cat active.
Although cats love to play chase the laser or catch the feathers on the fishing rod, we aren’t going to include those in our list. Still, these are two classic cat favorites that you should still try if you haven’t yet!
Whichever game you choose to play with your cat, try to keep them active and engaged at least 10 minutes a day. Playing with them frequently throughout the day is ideal, but if you’re short on time, even a quick play session is better than nothing.
1. Paper Games
Cats love the sound of crinkling paper or plastic bags. They also love going inside boxes or paper bags! Play on these curiosities, and enjoy a few budget games with your kitty.
For one game, use a paper shopping bag. Open it up entirely and lay it on its side on the floor. You can be sitting next to the bag and call your cat over if they aren’t already there with you. Your cat won’t need much more prompting than that. Soon, they’ll happily be inside the bag. Then, you can start to pat or lightly scratch the outside of the bag to stimulate them. From inside the bag, your cat with paw and pounce to catch the noises you’re making.
Another fun, but sometimes messy, paper game to play with your cat is crumpling up a piece of paper and tossing it around. This will stimulate their “prey” instincts as they pat the paper ball around the room. They’ll also love the crumpling sounds it makes when they bite or paw at it. Just be warned that if you leave them to their devices with this game, they will likely shred the paper ball.
Fetch isn’t just for dogs! Many cats enjoy playing fetch as they get a direct reward for catching their “prey.” For them to continually bring it back to you, they may need some encouragement and training.
Most older cats won’t adapt well to this game and prefer the feathers on a string, but kittens can learn to fetch very easily. To do this, throw a small ball or mouse toy for them to catch. Then coax them back to you with treats or using their name. If they bring the toy back to you, reward them with treats, pets, and praise. This positive reinforcement works with cats as it does for dogs, especially when they’re young. Continue this routine until they get into the habit of bringing back the toy each time.
As with many of the other games cat’s love, chasing games play on their “prey” instincts. This can be in the form of a laser, or if you want to put more of a spin on the game, you can use a small, mouse-sized, remote-controlled car.
Using a physical object as opposed to light can be far more rewarding to your cat. It gives them direct gratification for catching the toy instead of always chasing.
Like dogs, cats can become disinterested in a toy if it is always available. So, hide this chase toy until it is playtime, so they are more likely to engage.
4. High Tech Games
Cats love technology. They even have an online for cats so they can watch birds and other critters run around. Cats love this level of engagement as they can watch and occasionally swat at the screen. If you’re away from home often, this can be a fun way to keep your cat stimulated while you’re gone.
5. Puzzle Games
Another type of game that cats will enjoy is a reward puzzle game. In most cases, this will involve them getting treats or catnip out of a box or ball. You can also make these toys inexpensively using paper bags, toilet paper rolls, or yogurt cups.
You can also make a larger version of these puzzles using a shoebox. Cut varying sized holes and shapes in the box. Add treats or toys, and secure the lid.
If you’re not feeling crafty, you can also purchase puzzle games for your cats. Here is one of our favorites:
Cats are curious creatures, so choosing games that play on the instincts are the ones that they engage with the most. These games will be ones that involve catching “prey” or finding something.
If you want your cat to get more exercise, train them to walk on a leash! Yes, cats can be trained to walk on a leash, and some cats enjoy takings walks around the neighborhood or heading to the park. This takes time and patience, though, and often works best if you start training them when they’re young.