Did you know that consistent interactive play with your fur-friend helps reduce boredom, obesity and even behavior issues like aggression and territory marking?
If you’re like most cat owners, you probably have a box or a basket hiding under your bed or in your closet somewhere, full of darling toys for your cat. You have tried many things: from expensive to home-made, small to big, catnip among others, and still your cat seems uninterested in most of them. Despair not, my fellow cat-lovers, the solution may be simpler than you thought!
Your kitty may have a PREY PREFERENCE that is not being met with the current toys. Yes, you read this right. Some adult cats develop a prey preference and it is very important to help your kitty be themselves by using the appropriate prey to suit her preferences.
Having a prey preference simply means that they are more interested and get a lot more excitement from hunting that particular prey. There are three types of prey cats hunt: air, ground and insect. Luckily for us, there are tons of toys on the market to represent each one and make your life much easier.
If you’ve seen your kitty go wild looking at birds or playing with toys that flutter in the air, they may be an air prey preference cat. They are probably fantastic at jumping and doing Cirque Du Soleil type of maneuvers in the air. Provide them interactive toys that have feathers and are attached to strings to imitate a bird’s flying pattern (and wing flapping sounds) when flickering in the air. The greatest invention for cat lovers yet, the Da Bird, is sold just about anywhere.
Not much of a bird type? That’s OK. Fluffy may have been playing with your shoe laces, a ball of yarn or just about anything that crawls, runs or drags on the ground. Interactive play toys such as the Cat Catcher are amazing for your ground predator kitty as long as you make them lively. The best interactive toys out there will have mice, snakes or balls at the end of a fishing rod.
If all else fails, insect prey could be the answer. As the name makes quite obvious, insect prey is anything that resembles bugs or small insects whether they crawl or fly. Have you noticed your kitty going completely bonkers whenever they see a spider or a fly? Maybe they are a bit less confident and feel intimidated by big prey. Try playing using a laser pointer of the famous Cat Dancer. Always keep in mind the laser pointer alone tends to increase frustration because kitty can never truly slay the red dot, so make sure to also introduce a toy they can actually put their paws on.
Now, just because your kitty isn’t running around non-stop, chasing the toy and panting like a dog, doesn’t mean they aren’t entertained or having fun. Cat’s brains are about 90% similar to human’s in the way it is structured. Their cerebral cortex, the part ruling their rational decision making, complex problem solving and action planning, is well developed. This is why cats don’t normally expend crazy amounts of energy running and chasing prey like dogs do. They chose to strategize, stalk and pounce at the right moment.
Engaging their hunting instincts is easy if, in addition to using the right toy, you understand how the feline mind works. Here are 5 easy tips on how to keep them engaged when interactively playing:
1- If most of your furniture is hugging the wall, try to move it around to provide hiding spots where your cat can securely stalk the prey and pounce from.
2- No cat likes dead prey. Once you discover their high-value toy, put it away after a playing session. This helps keep them interested when you’re ready to play again.
3- If you pretend to be prey, move like prey. Unpredictable sudden movements away from the cat will get them more interested.
4- Let them catch and enjoy the prey for a few moments before pulling it away. This will build their confidence and make them want to play more often.
5- If you have a multi-cat household, beware of feline social hierarchy. Some of you kitties may not get enough attention or exercise in respect to the dominant cat that is around, so make sure to play with them separately.
Lastly, but not least, your feline friend will often feed off of your energy. They feel when you are excited and happy. Remember to encourage them to show her predatory side and have fun!