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When you think of playtime for your cat, the first thing that comes to mind is that it’s a fun way to get some exercise. Playtime is an important part of your cat’s daily health because he is a predator and was born to move. Those muscles do need to be worked and stretched and what better way to do that than through a stimulating play session?
Playtime serves another very vital function though and it’s one that is easy to overlook: it’s improves your cat’s mental health as well.
As a small predator, a cat wasn’t designed to take down prey by outrunning them for long distances. A cat’s hunting skill relies on stealth and strategy. This method is also how he approaches his play sessions.
To help your cat enjoy the maximum in mental health through playtime, work with his natural hunting style and not against it. Here are some tips:
Let Your Cat Maximize Stealth
Cats use stealth to sneak up on prey so place objects in the room that will serve as hiding places. When you’re using an interactive toy, don’t just conduct the play session in the middle of the room where it’s all open. Instead, place an open paper bag in the center of the room or even a few pillows so your cat can hide behind them. This offers him the opportunity to be “invisible” and move closer and closer in order to reach optimal ambush distance.
Let Your Cat Maximize Strategy
Don’t keep the interactive toy constantly in motion. It’s during the time when prey is still or barely moving (such when a bird is on the ground feeding) that the cat has time to plan his next move. If the toy is always in motion then your cat will resort to merely just physically going after it and although it will create good physical exercise, it doesn’t work his brain as well.
Basically, a good interactive play session combines physical and mental exercise. Your cat’s remarkable hunting skills are a function of his athletic body but also his remarkable mind.
If you have a question about your cat’s behavior, you can find information in the articles on our website as well as in Pam’s books. If you have a question regarding your cat’s health, please contact your veterinarian. This article is not intended as a replacement for your cat’s veterinary care.