Just like children, cats need to play. From kitten to cat, playing with your pet is an important part of keeping them healthy and happy. Stimulating, interactive play not only provides exercise—but it also keeps your cat from getting lonely, bored, depressed, or destructive. Toys, cat towers, and even paper bags can give your cat the playtime they need to live a longer, happier life.
Why Do Cats Like to Play?
Even though it might seem like they sleep all day, cats are hunters by nature. Playtime fulfills an indoor cat’s prey instinct. Allowing them to relieve stress, get exercise and explore their world in a safe and controlled environment. Play will also build a cat’s trust in you, helping you better care for them when they are scared or hurt.
Three Reasons Why Cats Need Structured Playtime
While the phrase “structured playtime” may sound stuffy and uptight, it simply means scheduling a daily time for interactive play. Actively playing with your cat provides the mental stimulation they crave. They’ll come to rely on you playing with them at a certain time of day, just like how they act like little alarm clocks when it’s time for breakfast.
Interactive play doesn’t have to mean a lot of exercise for you. It can be as simple as laying out paper bags and boxes for your cat to climb in. Or it can be dangling a string while you lounge on the sofa. However, the more involved you are in their play, the more invested your cat will be as well.
Here are three reasons why structured playtime is important for cats:
1. Play Relieves Stress
It might not seem like it, but many cats do experience stress. Domestic cats tend to rely on structure—oftentimes, if they are lacking structure, they can experience extreme stress. Feeding your cat and playing with them at scheduled times of the day can reduce anxiety and stress levels by releasing the hormones that promote relaxation.
Some other things in our homes that can cause stress to cats include candles, loud noises (like vacuums), and even poor handling (petting your cat when they do not want to be petted). Allowing places for your cat to climb (climbing and jumping is also a form of play) can also relieve stress and drastically improve a cat’s mood.
2. Play Prevents Problem Behaviors
Is your cat spending too much time pushing objects off of counters, sneaking into places they should not be, or harassing other pets? Bored cats create their own fun, and often in ways that are not so fun for their humans. If your kitty is causing mischief, consider investing in a cat tower and some toys.
3. Play Reduces the Impact of Outdoor Cats
New UK studies have found that indoor/outdoor cats with 40 minutes of playtime a day are less likely to kill birds and small animals when they are outdoors. Domestic cats are often responsible for killing a significant number of small animals in their neighborhoods.
While this habit can help with the overpopulation of mice and rats in certain areas, cats do not discriminate when it comes to the small animals they hunt. Their kills can wreak havoc on local ecosystems, and might even include protected species. Studies have found that structured indoor playtime results in a 30% reduction in kills by outdoor cats.
Cat Care in Gilbert, Arizona
Playing with your cat is an essential part of keeping them healthy, and so are their yearly checkups. Annual wellness exams help you stay on top of your cat’s health and can help catch problems before they grow worse. Our team at East Valley Animal Hospital is here to provide the very best care for your best friend. Call us today to make an appointment.