If you’ve been having trouble enticing your cat into a play session, it could be because he has a play preference. Most cats will play regardless of whether the toy darts along the ground or flies up in the air, but there are some kitties who really prefer just one or the other.
I have many clients whose cats only show interest if the toy that’s being dangled on the end of the wand stays close to the ground. The minute the little toy on the end of the string heads skyward, kitty walks away. On the other hand, there are the cats who love to show off their incredible athletic ability by leaping, doing flips and capturing the toy in mid-air.
Cats Can Have Play Preferences
Preferences for air play or ground play may be apparent from a young age or they can change as the cat matures. A kitty who once did gravity-defying leaps to capture his fuzzy mouse five feet off the ground may now prefer stalking and pouncing with all four feet close to the floor now that he’s a senior citizen.
If you tend to use an interactive toy in the same way every time, your cat has probably learned to adapt to your style and may have abandoned any previous preference. On the other hand, if you do tend to move the toy in the same way each time and your cat has never responded much it might be because his preference is very strong and you’ve missed the mark.
There are so many opportunities for varying your movements when it comes to ground play. depending upon the toy you choose, it can slither like a snake, skitter like a mouse or dart around like a cricket. From the beginning, choose several toys so you can vary the types of movements you do during different play sessions. If, however, you have a cat who shows a strong preference for a particular toy or a particular type of movement, go with it. The point is to make this a fun time for kitty.
Use the Environment
During ground play, your cat will depend on his stealth, speed and accuracy when it comes to capturing the toy. Don’t just play in the middle of room where there’s no way for your cat to conceal himself. Cats rely on their stealth when hunting so include objects in the environment that will allow your kitty to be invisible. Whether it’s a few pillows tossed on the floor, an open paper bag or a box, your cat will appreciate being able to sneak up to his prey.
A timid cat who is unsure of his environment may initially prefer ground play and may even prefer being able to remain somewhat hidden during play. As he becomes more confident though, you may discover he enjoys it when you incorporate air play into the session.
When it comes to air play, keep in mind that the toy shouldn’t be in motion over the head 100% of the time. Even birds have to land at some point. Provide your cat with the opportunity to leap into the air, but also periodically let the toy make contact with the ground so kitty can pounce.
Another tip when it comes to air play is that the toy shouldn’t be totally out of reach. If you keep the toy too far over your cat’s head then he’ll end up just sitting and watching it instead of being an active participant in the game. This can lead to frustration.
Regardless of whether your kitty is an air player, ground player or both, what’s most important is that you allow him to have several captures so he can enjoy the feeling of success.
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