Have you noticed that an easy way to engage a cat is by playing with it? It could be from using simple items like laser pointers, a long piece of string or even simulating “prey” by attaching a bell to the tip of a stick, waving it in the cat’s direction. The toy draws its attention and there, you have a cat engaged in some play.
You don’t need to have very specific cat toys to keep your feline friend entertained. After all, some of the simplest things like boxes or furniture make up an interesting environment for your cat to explore and interact with, given their curious nature. Some household items we may use like automatic sweeping robots pique the cat’s curiosity and in no time, you may even see your cat playing with it or using it to hitch a ride around the room.
So what items could you use for some one to one playtime with your cat, without breaking the bank or heading to a pet store?
Here are 6 examples of items at home that you can use:
Probably one of the easiest to prepare. Just use a sheet of waste paper that may be discarded or shredded after the play session. Use a few pieces together so it isn’t small enough to be swallowed. Crumple it up into a ball and works just as good as any other ball. You can tape it up for added safety from the sharp edges.
2. Toilet Rolls / Paper Towel Rolls
You can save one up for a session of play. Just leave them on the floor where your cat will be and it will start pulling or kicking as much as it can out of an entire roll and watch them go at it with excitement ( and a bit of a mess)! While this makes a great DIY toy for your cat, you should take note to cat-proof your bathroom or put the paper towel rolls in a way your cat can’t access them easily . You wouldn’t want your feline friend to sneak in and cause mayhem.
3. Paper Bags
While your cat hides in a paper bag left on the floor, you can lightly scratch the sides while your cat is inside. Your cat will instinctively try to hunt what’s causing the scratching or track the source of the shadows. It is recommended you use a large paper bag. If a small one is what you have, make another opening at the bottom so your cat wouldn’t feel that it might be trapped in. Be sure not to use plastic bags as those are a choking hazard. Additionally, an opaque plastic bag may be a collision hazard if a cat panics and tries to escape while pulling the plastic bag with it.
Chairs, footstools, ottomans, sofas, TV consoles, coffee tables and even shelving themselves act as an obstacle course of sorts to your cat. You can mix this up by using a laser pointer or placing simple toys that simulate prey around them and watch them have a go at it. Your cat may even go through all these pieces of furniture at once when it experiences the zoomies. For furniture such as shelves or dressers, you might notice your cat climbing up to the top, perching itself over a vantage point of the room. A spot near the window will keep your cat occupied as it watches for other birds or animals outside. For upholstered furniture like armchairs and sofas, you could consider cat-proofing it by leaving traces of pheromones, taping it up or using citrus to keep the cat away.
5. Cardboard Boxes
Do you have large cartons or cardboard boxes on hand that you’re thinking of recycling? Maybe before getting to it, you could repurpose them temporarily and turn it into a makeshift cat condo! Cats seem to be immensely attracted to cardboard items or boxes in general. Make things interesting by creating additional access points, put two or more in close proximity or even integrating it with any cat condos or scratching posts that you have. Shoeboxes could turn into a makeshift bed for your cat. Some will engage in destructive behavior and bite or scratch away bits of cardboard. You’ll know it’s finally time for the boxes to head into the recycling bin once you’ve seen quite a bit of damage.
6. String / Wire
A classic example to kickstart your cat’s instincts in swatting or chasing prey. Use a good length of string or wire, about a foot and a half long, and attach some small items like a soft toy, ribbons, bells, or even tying a small container with green beans, seeds, marbles or any equivalent filled inside. If you have catnip, adding a small bit may help spice things up a little. This gives you a great opportunity for some one to one playtime for your cat. You can keep these aside for guests when they visit to engage with your pet.
Keep your cat motivated after play by feeding it a treat. Adding food or treats after a session of play rewards the cat and keeps your cat’s desire for play in check. If your cat wants to play more, go ahead and indulge it! Mix these up and maybe after a bit of one to one play time, you can leave your cat to interacting with other items around the house. If your cat seems disinterested in continuing, leave it be. Do not force it to continue.
Like children, cats may get a too excited from all the play so watch out for over-exertion. If you have more than one cat in the house, you can consider giving equal play time with each cat and then leaving them to play or interact with one another afterwards.
Playing with your cat is important in keeping stress and anxiety away in your cat. It releases energy and keeps your cat’s body fit and toned. It stimulates the mind, entertains and keeps boredom away as cats are naturally curious. Your cat will learn a playtime and be more affectionate with you, helping to create a solid bond between you and your cat.