Your cat loves to play with you – you can’t go wrong with that, can you? In fact, according to veterinarians and experts, there are some mistakes many cat owners make when playing with their pets. Here you can find out what they are – and how to avoid them.
Before you find out what you should pay attention to when playing with your cat, one thing is very important: It is great that you are playing with your cat at all. Because playing helps keep your cat healthy, active, and happy. Therefore, for fear of possible mistakes, you should by no means completely forego games with your kitty.
Nevertheless, it is worthwhile to take a close look at possible pitfalls. As a result, you can now make playing as cat-friendly as possible.
Also, some of the mistakes can lead to real behavior problems – and even make the situation worse rather than better.
You should therefore avoid the following points when playing with your cat:
You are Too Rude to Play With Your Cat
The top rule: a game shouldn’t be a fight. If you almost push your kitty around and press it on the floor, she will not enjoy it but will feel threatened. If you push her onto her back, you’ll also put her in a defensive position. And the chances are that you will then get scratches and bites. Instead, take it easy and slow.
Instead of Toys, You Use Your Hands
Most cat owners are likely to feel caught at this point: If your cat is in a playful mood, but has no toys at hand, you just wiggle your fingers and let the kitty snap and hit you. In doing so, however, you inadvertently train her to behave in a rather stupid manner: You show your cat that it is okay to scratch and bite people.
“When the cat learns that biting is allowed while playing, it learns that this is an accepted and effective way of communicating if it wants to achieve something. For example, getting attention or being left alone, ”explains Pam Johnson-Bennett, an expert on cat behavior.
The only association cats have with our hands should be gentle petting and holding. The expert appeals: “Do not send ambiguous messages about biting – even if it happens in the game.”
Unsuitable Toys Can Be Dangerous
What if, instead of your hands, you now use any objects within your reach? That’s not a good idea either. Veterinarian Jessica Kirk warns against letting your cat play with things that are not toys.
“Cats can choke if they play with things that are unsuitable as toys. Or they could swallow the parts, which then end up in the digestive tract, ”she warns “ Business Insider ”. “Only give your house toys that are specially designed for animals.”
On the other hand, toys for people or household items such as tennis balls, water bottles, or shopping bags are unsuitable – these can be dangerous or even fatal if the cat swallows them.
Your Cat Only Has One Toy
If your cat only has one toy, there is a risk that it will quickly become boring – and then distract itself with the rug or a piece of furniture. Of course, no cat owner wants chewed furniture. Therefore, you should offer your kitty new toys from time to time. This will stimulate your cat’s curiosity and encourage them to play.
Another option: Buy your cat several toys, but only let them play with one of them at a time. Each week you can then alternate between swapping out the toy for another one. That way things stay exciting over a longer period of time.
You Don’t Give Your Cat a Break While Playing
Playing is exhausting for your cat – physically, but also mentally. Therefore, she should be able to rest in between so that she is not completely exhausted afterward. “When your pet gets tired, the likelihood of harming itself increases. It also has pain for the following days, just like people who train too hard, ”says veterinarian Jessica Kirk.
Therefore, pay close attention to your cat’s signals. If she turns away and runs away, she has obviously played enough for the moment.
You Don’t Play Enough With Your Cat
The other extreme – not playing at all or too little with your kitty – is not better, however. Because your cat moves while playing, at the same time it is mentally challenged. Both of these will help keep your cat healthy. Much like an exercise in humans, exercise helps cats maintain a healthy weight. Joints and organs are less stressed as a result – a (hopefully) long life is the result. Therefore, you should play with your cat regularly.
The Toy Dangles in Front of Your Cat’s Face
Fishing toys, in which various objects hang on a string from a pole, are very popular with cats. However, there is one thing you should avoid: holding the toy right in front of your kitty’s nose.
“No sensible prey would go to a cat and volunteer for lunch,” explains Pam Johnson-Bennett. “A cat’s hunting instinct is triggered by movements moving through or out of their field of vision. If something happens to them, it confuses them and can put them on the defensive. This turns the toy into your opponent. ”
You Don’t Let Your Cat Win
Nobody likes to play without ever winning. This also causes frustration in cats. Of course, you are superior to the kitty: For example, you can hold the toy so high that she has no chance of getting at it. Pam Johnson-Bennett warns of this, however.
“Playing together should provide a physical and mental reward.” If your cat chases the toy but never gets hold of it, the exercise becomes physically demanding but frustrating. The danger of this is particularly great with laser toys. Because if your cat only chases one point, but can never catch its “prey”, it will not get any feelings of reward.
One solution could be to use the laser to guide your cat to a food stash. She feels that her efforts have been rewarded. “Think of the toy as prey that is caught but can escape a few more times. Towards the end of the game, you should move the toy more slowly and allow your cat to catch it with one final big maneuver. ”
The Game Ends Abruptly
Imagine you’re having the fun of your life and suddenly someone suddenly throws the toy in the corner and ignores you. This is exactly how your cat will feel if you stop in the middle of the game.
Even if you only want to play with your cat for a short time, you should slowly slow down the pace towards the end so that your cat can relax from the activity. In this way, you also suggest to her that she has successfully done her job. You can think of this phase as stretching after your workout.