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How Much Playtime Does A Cat Need?

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How Much Playtime Does A Cat Need?

Cats are known for being low-maintenance, easy-care pets. They don't require much space, daily walks or outdoor activities (although many cats will enjoy this), or regular bathing. Some will even contribute to the household with their hunting abilities if an unfortunate rat appears indoors.

Because cats are easy pets to keep, many people believe that cats don't need as much attention as dogs. But as all cat owners know, that's not the case. Like dogs and people, cats benefit from consistent interactive play and activity (aka exercise).


How to play with your cat.

Cats need a variety of toys, including toys they can play with on their own and toys you can use to play with them. You'll also want to provide your cat with items to explore, such as cardboard boxes, paper shopping bags, wrapping paper, and toys to encourage them to use their paws to explore various holes.

Cats are natural hunters, so it makes sense that the best way to get them exercise and play is to stimulate their predatory instincts. Small, electric, remote-controlled and battery-operated mice are great for grabbing a cat's attention and then getting them to stalk, pounce and chase. Feather toys, often attached to the end of a wand or string, make great bird replicas for your feline friend to stalk or even snatch from the air. Another favorite is the laser pointer, which mimics insects for your cat to hunt and chase.

You'll want some toys that your cat can throw around when you're not home, like small mice (with or without catnip), or flapping toys like crinkle balls and rattles. Challenging interactive toy puzzles to get treats through different openings will keep your cat entertained and mentally stimulated.

Remember to occasionally introduce new toys, or at least alternative toys, to prevent your cat from getting bored. And you also need to let them catch "prey" from time to time. Both of these will make playtime fun for your kitten.


A brief note on playtime for cats with medical problems.

If you have a stocky tabby cat, start exercising gradually and gently to avoid injury. Overweight and obese cats can damage their joints if they move too much too fast. Also, these cats may not have the stamina for 10 minutes of play, so start gradually. And put a hold on stair running and jumping until your cat loses some weight.

If your cat has heart disease or high blood pressure, you'll need to monitor them closely for breathing difficulties (e.g., wheezing, shallow breathing) or rapid fatigue. If you feel your cat is going too far, slow down or take a short break.

Of course, check with your veterinarian before starting any interactive play or exercise program for your cat, especially if your cat has underlying health issues.

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