A cat’s reputation for laziness is well-deserved. They might sleep anywhere between 12 and 16 hours a day, with plenty of time relaxing in their favorite sunny spots to top it off. They have a wonderful reputation as low-maintenance, easygoing pets, but that doesn’t mean sleep is the only thing they enjoy! These cat naps are hardly the end of the story for our feline friends, as a kitty’s waking hours can be filled with excitement.
You should make sure to spend some quality time with your cat on a daily basis, as keeping them entertained and active is a great way to improve their physical and mental health. Play and interaction also strengthen the bond you share with your cat. Just because our cats may not demand the same level of attention as some other pets don’t mean they can’t enjoy playtime and fun activities just as much.
How Much Playtime Does My Cat Need?
Just like most mammals, cats that keep their hearts active have the tendency to live longer lives with fewer health problems. Fast-paced activities and play sessions that engage a cat’s natural hunting tendencies can be some of the best ways to keep your kitties at a healthy weight, even after a few extra treats. Regular exercise can also strengthen muscles and keep the joints limber for longer, helping your cat reach its favorite sunbathing spots for longer into old age.
While outdoor cats are likely to get much of the necessary activity from their adventures in the yard and around the neighborhood, indoor cats are very likely to be underactive and overweight. One 2018 study found that nearly 60% of all cats could be classified as overweight or obese. Keeping your cat active with a few play sessions adding up to 30-60 minutes a day is a great way to reduce this risk while enjoying the hilarious antics cats are prone to get up to.
Younger cats, especially kittens, are likely to play as much as they need without any sort of encouragement from an owner. However, as your cat ages, they’re likely to start preferring the quieter aspects of pet life, and you may need to play an active role in keeping up with exercise.
For elderly cats, it may be a good idea to limit the amount of time in play mode to just a few minutes at a time to avoid overworking them or otherwise stressing out their aging joints and muscles.
Either way, pay attention to your cat’s body language, as it will usually inform you if it’s time for more play or another nap.
How Should I Keep My Cat Entertained?
Cats can be fickle creatures, and it may take some experimentation to find out what sorts of activities your cat enjoys most. Keeping a variety of toys on hand, especially ones the cat can play with on its own, is a good way to make sure your cat stays active even when you may not have the time to play.
Keeping a cat tower or at least a few high surfaces your cat is allowed on is another great way to keep your cat playful and active, as perching high up above any potential threats helps engage your cat’s predatory instincts.
Some of the best toys are the ones that emphasize a lot of movement. A feather at the end of a string, a small mechanized mouse, or small balls with rattles inside is perfect for taking your cat from couch potato to ferocious hunter in an instant. Certain popular toys, however, may be better off left on the shelf. Laser pointers may damage your cat’s sensitive eyes if they’re poorly aimed, and some materials can shred apart in a moment, winding up all over the carpet, or worse, in your cat’s stomach.
When playing, try to take an active role in gaining your cat’s interest. For instance, when using string, feathers, or fishing pole toys, try to flit it around erratically with many starts and stops. This mimics the patterns of the prey your cat instinctively wants to hunt.
One sure-fire way to get their attention is to tease them with the idea that their prey is on the escape. Pull the toy slowly towards a door frame or blind corner. Let the toy gradually nudge away out of sight, and you can all but guarantee that your cat will go on a tear to snatch the toy away just before it disappears.
If you’re able to instill certain habits in your cat at an early age, you may be able to get it to love the leash! Taking a cat on a walk around the neighborhood, or to the nearby park, or even on a hike into the forest isn’t totally out of the question if you’re able to leash-train them regularly starting at an early age. Even some adult cats can wind up enjoying forays into the larger world, but it’s important not to force anything on a cat they’re obviously not enjoying.
How Else Does Regular Play Time Benefit Your Cat?
Boredom is an affliction suffered by all living things, and cats — as lazy and sleepy as they may often be — are no exception.
Keeping your cat happy involves regular playtime to stave off boredom. For outdoor cats or households with multiple cats (or other playful, cat-friendly pets), this may not be as much of a concern. But for single indoor cats, it’s important to spend some time playing with them every day so that they are able to engage their minds both physically and socially.
Anxiety can also be alleviated with regular play sessions. Some cats have suffered trauma and may not be so inclined to playing or socializing as others. In these cases, it’s important to keep trying without forcing them into anything. Experiment with different toys or types of play. Eventually, you may find that your stressed kitty has a penchant for the play that they never felt safe enough to express before.
Without regular play and activity time between you and your cat, you may as well just be a roommate that feeds it. If you want to enhance your experience as a cat owner, it’s a great idea to play with your cat for 30-60 minutes every day. Your cat will appreciate you as more than just a source of food, and you may find that cats outdo their lazy stereotypes in spectacular fashion.
Where to Take Your Cat When You’re Out of Town
Your kitty companion is too important to leave home alone for extended periods of time. They need as much attention and activity as ever when you’re unable to be there yourself.
Greenlin Pet Resorts is the perfect place for your kitty when you’re away from home. We’ll keep them entertained and well-exercised so you can be sure they won’t be bored at home, just waiting for you to return.
The next time you’re away from home, give us a call or schedule an appointment online to learn more about our cat boarding services, and we can schedule a fun-filled retreat for your feline friends.