Does your daily schedule look like this: “Wake up, have breakfast, work, work, make dinner, do the laundry, watch TV, put kids to sleep, have fun, shower, brush teeth… oh shoot, I forgot to play with my cat. Okay, I’ll do it tomorrow… Wake up, have breakfast…”
We are all busy people, and playing with cats is the last thing we want after a tiring day. Even if we do know that we have to, it’s not easy to remember, due to all the other tasks we do for the cat – feed the cat, brush the cat, scoop the box, replace the water. Play? Haven’t I already done enough?
Here are a few tips that will let you reorganize and find time to play with your cat.
- Fragment your play. People often ask us how long a play session with a cat should last. The common sense answer is, “The longer the better,” but we well know that this is not what people want to hear when they ask such things. And we have good news for them. While, indeed, more is better, your cat does not need hours of entertainment at a time. Can you find a few minutes at least, several times per day? We bet you can, and it’s totally okay to do so. Cats actually benefit more from several shorter activities than from one long one. You don’t even need 15 minutes, though it’d be great. At the very least, you can go with just a few minutes for every play session. Can you find those?
- Keep interactive toys in every room. If you do this, then whenever you are in a position to have even a minute of free time for play with the cat, you will be more likely to do so if the toy is within a reach of a hand. The most common excuse not to play with a cat (in our own experience) is that the owner must go to another room to grab the toy. It’s too hard.
- Plan time to play with your cat. The previous example works the best when you play for few minutes every now and then, whenever you can or when you remember…which often is never. That’s where scheduling an exact time for play may become beneficial. Even if you set a commitment that you are going to play for few minutes, it’s good to know that you will be able to find them. Scheduling play with your cat does not necessarily mean doing it at the same time every day. You can also schedule play between other tasks or your other activities. For example, there are many benefits to feeding cats on a schedule, and if you do so, you can make a habit of playing before every meal. This can also reduce your cat’s restlessness, because it’s natural for a cat to eat AFTER exercise. You can also play with your cat as you come home, or before you leave, or…imagination is the only limit…every time after you wash dishes or read the news on your mobile phone. And speaking of phones, yes, you can also set a reminder for a specific time every day, so you not only know that you need to find the time, but you also remember that you have to. The point is, whenever you can, plan ahead.
- Practice different ways of playing. It sure gets boring for you, which in turn makes it “harder to find time,” if a play session means the same, the same, the same actions every day. We have collected 11 activities to plan for your cat, but those are certainly not your only options. Take part in different activities with your cat every day, and you will never get bored. Find something that excites you, and we guarantee, you will not only be able to find time, you will actually push yourself to free some time to play with your cat. For example, cat owners report that they experience their own fun while operating radio-controlled cat toys.
- Provide solo play opportunities for your cat. It’s a common misconception that solo play toys are for lazy cat owners who do not play with their cats. But that is not true. Solo play toys are great supplemental activity sources for any cat. Fake mice, often stuffed with catnip, bouncy balls, and toys on springs hanging from door-frames are just a few examples. The easiest way to find these is to visit a pet store and look for solo toys. Variations are unlimited.
- Electronic cat toys. Sound like a simple solution? These are not an answer to all your problems, but they can provide some entertainment time for your cat, without owner involvement.
- Feeding through play. Food and playing are cousins. Eating is what comes after “playing” in the wild, and it works well in a household environment as well. There are several choices, like providing your cat a so-called food dispenser toy, hiding small amounts of food in different locations throughout your house, letting your cat jump on thrown pieces of food kibble, or giving a treat every time your cat jumps and bites an interactive toy.
One last thing to note is that you can always do multitasking. Have a toy in your hand when you watch TV or read a book. Or have a toy nearby when you wash dishes or do your accounting. Your cat does not need your constant attention to receive benefits from playing. And your cat will also be very happy to receive at least some physical stimulation throughout the day. Remember – your cat loves short but frequent play sessions.