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Healthy Cats

Playing With Your Cat: Toys and Games

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Types of Toys for Fun and Games continued...

Some wand toys you might like to try:

  • The Cat Dancer®
  • Da Bird
  • “Fishing pole” type toys
  • Peacock feathers from a craft store

Ball Toys

Balls are also very attractive to many cats. Their movement along the floor mimics the movement of scampering mice or other prey animals, which will entice cats to chase. You can insert treats or catnip into some balls to make playing with them more rewarding and exciting for your cat. Other balls have bells or other small objects inside them that make noise to attract your cat’s attention. The only downside to ball toys is that they often end up under the couch or other furniture!

Some ball toys you might like to try:

  • Wadded-up paper (experiment with different textures and sizes)
  • Mylar balls (crinkly and shiny)
  • Ping-pong balls (watch for wear)
  • Sponge balls (nice and quiet)

Food-Dispensing Toys

Many people allow their cats free access to food at all times. This can be convenient for pet parents, but it often leads to cats eating more than they should. Instead of free feeding, try using a food toy to “deliver” your cat’s food. She’ll have to work a bit for her meals, which will engage her mind and satisfy her natural instincts to hunt. Food-dispensing toys can also slow down cats who eat too quickly and encourage more activity throughout the day.

Start with a hungry cat and some of your cat’s favorite treats. Open the food toy and make it extremely easy for your cat to get a treat out of the toy. This process will remove any fear your cat might have of the toy itself, and it will help her learn the association between the toy and eating. As soon as your cat is happy to eat out of the toy, make the situation a little more challenging. Close the toy, or reduce the size of the opening so that your cat has to interact with the toy (touching, pawing or nosing it) to get the treat to come out. Over time, begin to mix your cat’s kibble with the treats. Over time you can gradually fade out the treats until you’re using only kibble. Finally, set out a couple of the toys in different places in your house, and feed your cat only with the toys. No more boring food bowls!

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