Playtime with your feline friend is one of the great joys of being a pet parent. There are so many fun things to do with your cat and cool new cat trends to follow. But what if your pet is bored with catnip mice and jingly balls?
You both benefit from interactive play, but kitties may become bored with the same old thing and turn to mischief. Best Friends Animal Society explains, "All animals, including pets, have natural behaviors and needs; to be healthy and happy, they must have opportunities to express those natural behaviors in appropriate ways." A great way to provide mental stimulation and alleviate boredom for your cat is to try out new ways to play.
Here are five fun things to do with your furry family member, from low-tech activities to high-tech new cat trends.
1. Hunting Prey
Indoor cats retain their innate hunting instincts, which is why a seemingly sleepy kitty may suddenly pounce on your foot or zoom after a dust bunny. One way to indulge her inner predator is by playing hide-and-seek with a stuffed animal. Hide behind a wall or piece of furniture and make the plush critter "peek" around the corner, and then wiggle it a few times. You also can launch it across the room to make it look like it's running. She'll love charging after it! Amp up this activity by using a stuffed animal that is larger than her usual cat toys so she has the added satisfaction of taking down substantial prey.
2. Mechanical Toys
Another hunting option is to use wind-up or battery-operated toys, especially those designed to look like small rodents. Your cat is attracted to the unpredictable movement of these toys as they zigzag across the floor (hard surfaces work best). The exercise helps to sharpen her stalking and pouncing skills and keeps her away from your feet. Placing obstacles in the toy's pathway increases its erratic movement, making it even more entertaining for your cat.
3. Cat Food Puzzles
Kitties love the excitement of a mental challenge and a tasty tidbit, so why not combine the two? Feline behavior researchers explain in the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery that food puzzles provide both physical exercise and mental stimulation. Keeping your kitty's mind sharp is important for keeping her happy and engaged. This activity also is easy on the budget: You can repurpose items in your home, such as a cardboard box and dry cat food, for a DIY cat puzzle.
4. Cat Obstacle Course
While it's true that cats are creatures of habit, they're also curious and enjoy investigating enticing, non-threatening changes to their environment. Construct a maze-like structure by placing cushions and pillows around the room. You can include chairs that offer her a high perch for jumping, too. The best way to keep your cat interested in this new set-up is to plant pieces of cat food at various points throughout the maze. As Animal Planet notes, cats have a surprising ability to learn and remember new skills. Your kitty is no lab rat, but she'll learn to run mazes for a healthy treat!
5. Cat Apps
It may come as no surprise that many new cat trends incorporate electronic technology. Did you know that there are apps that your cat can play with by herself? Now, your cat can catch fish, paint or chase lasers on a screen, according to PC World. She'll need you to operate the smartphone, of course. If you've ever caught your cat watching television, you know she's enchanted by the quick movements and vibrant sounds of electronic devices. Be sure to check with your vet to make sure the screen brightness won't damage your pet's eyes.
Trying out new fun things to do with your cat benefits your fur baby physically and mentally. Get creative, and kitty bonding time will never be the same.
Christine O'Brien is a writer, mom, and long-time cat parent whose two Russian Blues rule the house. Her work also appears in Care.com, What to Expect, and Fit Pregnancy, where she writes about pets, pregnancy, and family life. Find and follow her on Instagram and Twitter @brovelliobrien.