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Interactive Play Therapy for Cats

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For more information on cat behavior and training, refer to Pam’s books, including Amazon’s best-seller Think Like a Cat and the latest release, CatWise. The books by best-selling author Pam Johnson-Bennett are available at bookstores everywhere, through your favorite online cat retail site and also here on our website.


You can find more information on cat behavior and training in the articles on our website as well as in Pam’s best-selling books. If you have a question regarding your cat’s behavior or health, please contact your veterinarian. This article is not intended as a replacement for your cat’s veterinary care. This article is for information purposes only and not offering medical advice or providing a medical diagnosis.










  1. I have a dilemma. I have a 1.5 year old flame point siamese – very intelligent, and very demanding of attention. He absolutely LOVES ‘Da Bird’ (feather on fishing pole) toy. I was very pleased with his interest in it, and think it is a great way for him to get the exercise that he needs as an active cat. I work at a computer in my bedroom frequently, and when he was not playing with it, I would leave it hanging from the dresser drawer – where he could still tug and play on it. The problem became that he became ‘obsessed’ with it. When I would put it away, he would not leave me alone – he pawed incessantly at the dresser, walls, and meowed – continually. It became a real behavior problem as it became disruptive to my work. I put it away, out of sight, and tried to play at a few intervals, but he still was incessant begging for it. I have had to hide it permanently, making him go cold turkey, but I feel really badly as I feel it was very good for him – athletically and I know he enjoyed it greatly. I have other interactive toys for him, as well as mice, which he enjoys fetching sometimes. Is there a way to allow him to enjoy Da Bird but to prevent his obsessive behavior about it?

  2. Thank you Pam, I will try the strategies that you suggested!

  3. I love this! So true. My main coon Romeo was such an amazing, calm and confident cat thanks to regular play therapy. I have tried the toys you recommend, and they are great, but there are other options out there too–small businesses like Cat Tamboo that make toys by hand, in the USA, and from all natural/biodegradeable materials.

  4. Awesome article. I wish more cat owners understood this. Have you done any toy reviews on what’s best for play therapy? I’ve heard you talk about the Da Bird, which is a great toy, but it’s not perfect for every cat, and there’s not a lot of info out here (in the general cat-people public) about what other options/choices exist. It’s all about the Da Bird without much info on alternatives.

    I’m sure a lot of cat owners (like me) need more choices and you give wonderful advice.

    My boys are male main coons, so they’re pretty aggressive and powerful in how they play. Da Bird works – it got my grumpiest, Romeo, to come out of his shell and regain his confidence after I adopted him. But the dang thing kept breaking. I found that the Da Bird wasn’t strong or tough enough. It’s ridiculous how much money I spent getting replacement parts, or buying new toys altogether, before I sat down and really considered what I was doing. (And just so you know – I never let my cats chew on their wand toys, ever. My cat’s destroyed the da bird simply in their pouncing, swatting, and grabbing the lure in the course of normal play therapy sessions)

    The Da Bird style of toy really works in triggering the natural hunting instincts, exercising your cat’s aggression, and helping them be calm and confident the rest of the day. So I’ve done a lot of research and looked everywhere for da bird alternatives. There aren’t very many reviews/comparisons out there so I had to figure a lot out on my own.

    I’ve tried a bunch of different alternatives, but I keep coming back to the Cat Tamboo Flyers.

    My second favorite alternative to the Da Bird is the Freddie’s Feather Wand. It’s much smaller (so easer to travel with I guess) but it doesn’t get the same response from my cats as the Cat Tamboo toys. Freddie’s is the classic wand-style with a string. Great materials, good, sturdy construction, but it’s harder to entice your cat and give the feathers a really realistic movement.

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