Playtime is an important activity for most pets. It gives them the opportunity to exercise, kill boredom and relieve stress. Like human beings, cats can experience stress and they might develop compulsive behaviours such as excessive self-grooming or sudden mood swings. Playtime and exercise is extremely crucial as most indoor cats are more likely to be obese (because of inactivity) and this may lead to serious illnesses such as diabetes and stress on joints. Playtime also allows them to bond with other animals in the household and their owners!

Types of toys

There is no need to spend a fortune at pet shops for toys. Some of them can be found at home and can be fun hide-and-seek items for them to play with. Safe cat toys include cardboard toilet rolls, ping-pong balls and feather sticks. Although yarn balls are always shown in movies as popular toys for cats, they are actually not recommended as they do more harm than good. Once the wool gets in the cat's mouth, it might get stuck in the throat and the cat can't do anything but to keep swallowing. This sometimes results in serious, or even fatal intestinal infections.

Keep your cat's energy and enthusiasm levels up by finding ways to make playtime interesting for him. When playing with a "prey" toy, dangle it on from of him in a manner that will imitate that of a real animal. This will entice your cat to catch it, almost as if it's a real hunt. Don't forget to let them catch the "prey" occasionally; otherwise, they might lose interest, get frustrated and know you are just teasing.

With all toys, always check for safety. Ensure that the toys are sturdy and do not break into small parts easily. There should be no tiny items such as beads, buttons or metal pieces that they could possibly choke on. Avoid laser beams as it will hurt the cat's eye when shone directly. Try using a torchlight beam in a darkened room and they will definitely have lots of fun chasing the moving light around the wall.

There is specific explanation but some cats enjoy playing with a plastic bag (sometimes even licking them). With plastic bags, always snip off the handles before you let them play with it. There is the danger getting the handles caught around their necks, and attempts to shake it off may lead to disastrous results.

Some tips:

  • If your cat is usually alone at home, remember to leave some toys for him to play with.
  • Prepare an assortment of toys such as wand toys (a bouncing stick with a dangling string), balls with bells, wads of paper, etc. Remember to put the toys away because as time goes by, the cats may find them uninteresting. Just like a "prey" who is always there.
  • Create a feline obstacle playground. Construct several boxes into a bridge or even tunnel, cutting holes at the sides to act as doors for them to step into.
  • Peek-a-boo: Hide in a corner and peep, making eye contact with your car and letting him know "something" is there. Then hide yourself again for a few seconds and pop your head out a little. You will realize your cat is fixating his gaze at you as start to come closer, and will most likely "chase" you.
  • If your cat is obese or getting old, and seems to be quiet or sluggish, build up the fun factor of their playtime with simple interactive games. You do not want to tire your cat out too much, so make sure to match your pace with his, not