You may have purchased countless toys for your cat but when they’re left out all day and all night, it’s easy for them to lose their appeal. Your cat may have a few toys that are his absolute favorites but what about all the others that are left to gather dust on the floor? Are they doomed to being ignored forever and never played with again? No. It’s just time to do a little tweaking in terms of environmental enrichment. Here are some tips for keeping toys interesting and fun:
Your cat doesn’t need 50 toys all at one time. Instead, pick a few toys to leave out for several days and then put them away and bring out a few more. Sometimes, seeing a toy that hasn’t been around for a few days can create new interest.
Place Toys in Interesting Locations
Instead of just dumping a few toys in kitty’s play basket or tossing them on the carpet, strategically place them in areas that might spark some interest. Place a fuzzy fake mouse on one of the perches of a cat tree. Hide a crinkly ball toy inside of an open paper bag that’s placed on its side. Roll a ping pong ball along the floor. Place a toy so it’s just barely sitting on the window ledge and can easily be knocked off with the swipe of a paw. Use your imagination.
Keep Interactive Toys Special
Interactive toys, which are the ones designed like fishing poles, shouldn’t be left around when you aren’t conducting a play session with your cat. In addition to the fact that it creates a safety issue because a cat can easily choke or get strangled on any stringed parts, leaving them around can cause them to lose their appeal. The interactive toys should be used for scheduled playtime to maximize activity, bonding and fun.
Add Something Extra
Food is a great incentive. Place some balls in a dish and then sprinkle some dry food in there as well. Your cat will have to nose the balls around to get to the food and in the process, he may start playing. If you have some puzzle feeders, make sure you are routinely putting food in them so they stay interesting. It’s easy for puzzle feeders to roll under the furniture and be forgotten so you may have to go on a hunt to track them down.
“Marinate” With Catnip
Not all cats respond to catnip, but if your kitty does, place some toys in a container with a little catnip so they can retain some of the catnip scent. Make sure the container is tightly sealed and placed in a location that your cat can’t reach. Once or twice a week you can take one of the “marinated” toys out for kitty’s enjoyment.
Need more Information?
For specific information and tips on how to maximize playtime and incorporate play therapy into your cat’s routine to help with behavior problems, refer to any of Pam’s books, including the most recent release, Think Like a Cat. If you’re experiencing a cat behavior problem or cat training issue and would like a consultation with cat behaviorist Pam Johnson-Bennett, CCBC, contact our office.
Pam Johnson-Bennett is the star of Psycho Kitty airing on Discovery UK. She is author of seven best-selling books on cat behavior including Think Like a Cat: how to raise a well-adjusted cat – not a sour puss. Think Like a Cat has become known as the cat bible. Pam is considered a pioneer in the field of cat behavior consulting. In addition to her television series and public speaking engagements, Pam owns Cat Behavior Associates, a private veterinarian-referred behavior company in Nashville, TN. Cat Behavior Associates offers private cat behavior appointments on a limited basis. Pam Johnson-Bennett is a Certified Cat Behavior Consultant.