One of the best ways to strengthen the bond between you and your cat is to play games together. “When you play with your cat, you become the most interesting thing in her life,” says Sandy Myers, a pet behavior consultant in Naperville, Illinois. “Your cat starts thinking, ‘Hey, when Mom or Dad are home, I have more fun.’ So the cat welcomes you that much more.” Not only is playtime fun for your cat, she adds, it’s also a great way to get your cat to exercise-both mentally and physically.
Here are six games you can play with your cat. Not every feline will want to play every game on this list, but certainly there are at least a few games here that you and your cat will enjoy. (Please remember that foil balls should always be thrown away at the end of the game-they are fine for games, but are not safe for unsupervised play.)
Play this game in a room with hardwood, tile, or linoleum floors that has at least 10 square feet of free floor space. Break off an eight-inch square of aluminum foil and scrunch it up into a hockey puck shape. Show your cat the puck and then flick it with your fingers so that it goes skittering across the floor. Your cat will then chase after the puck, batting it with his paws and making it scoot from one end of the room to the other. If your cat starts to lose interest in the game, pick up the puck and give it another flick.
With your cat at the top of the stairs and you at the bottom, fling a ping pong ball to the top of the staircase, against the side wall, one or two steps in front of where your cat is sitting. The ball will bounce down the stairs — and your cat will race down the stairs to chase after it. When the ball reaches the bottom of the stairs — probably with your cat just a step behind — fling the ball back up to the top of the staircase. Keep tossing the ball up the steps until your cat gets tired.
Put a ping pong ball in a clean, dry bathtub. Remove the bottles of shampoo and bars of soap, and plug the drain so the ping pong ball doesn’t get lodged in there. Put your cat in the bathtub, show him the ping pong ball, and bounce the ball off the side of the bathtub to get it moving. As the ball bounces around, your cat will chase after it. If the ball starts to slow down, give it a good roll off the side to get it moving again and to keep your cat’s interest.
Chase the Thing on the String
Get an aluminum foil ball, hollow plastic Whiffle ball, or catnip mouse and tie it to a three-foot piece of twine or heavy string. Pull the string along the floor in front of you, over the cat furniture, or up and down your staircase and let your cat chase after the object. Be sure to allow your cat to capture the object every once in awhile when you’re playing this game, so that he can feel like a successful predator.
Shadows on the Wall
Turn off the lights in the evening and cast a beam of light on a nearby wall with a large flashlight. Dangle bouncy cat toys or other small objects in the light and move them back and forth so their shadows race up and down the wall. Your cat will leap up at the wall trying to catch the elusive prey.
Chase the Bubbles
On a warm, breezy day, open all the windows and blow your cat a roomful of bubbles to chase. You can buy a jar of bubble solution for children, or make your own by mixing together 1/2 cup dish washing liquid, 1 cup water, 2 tablespoons glycerin, and 1/2 teaspoon sugar. When you blow your bubbles, face in different directions so they scatter around the room. Alternate between blowing through the plastic wand that came with the bubble solution and waving the wand through the air. Your cat will have fun trying to catch the bubbles — and you will be very entertained.
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