Because I’ve worked in the pet industry for nearly two decades, my eight indoor cats seem to have acquired more toys than most children. With all the balls, catnip, mice and other goodies strewn about my floors, my cats’ favorite toys always seem to be the ones that I have to “play” with them. Even an active cat like Dexter benefits from toys that are human powered to and engage the kitty hunters inside.
Dexter benefits by expending some energy on these toys rather than tormenting his older brothers and sisters. If you have a young, active cat, there’s no better way to burn some of that spunk than with interactive cat toys.
Older cats tend to slow down and sleep most of the time and weight problems can occur. If you have older or overweight cats, the best thing you can do is to get them up and jumping for at least 10 minutes a day. Not only will it help to burn some excess calories, but you can have some fun watching your cat jump a little.
Interactive cat toys aren’t something that you should leave lying around the house. Keep them hidden in a secret closet where you can bring the toy from for special playtime sessions. The toys with feathers and long string can easily be chewed, so it’s best to only bring them out of hiding when you intend to lead the game.
The Feline Flyer is a great toy to get your cats up and jumping. Even older cats can’t resist the birdy flying past and will give a swat. Younger cats show their agility with wild leaps into the air. This toy has replaceable feather ends or you can switch the toy to other toys like suede tassels or a pom pom.
A similar wand –like toy includes the Play-n-Squeak Dangle Mouse. You can drag this along the floor to entice your cat to pounce, then lift it up at the last second to keep the chase going.
The Cat Dancer has been around for decades. Twirling the wire creates an irregular movement of the little cardboard end and cats find it irresistible. Cat Dancer also makes a Cat Charmer which is a long piece of soft cloth like a ribbon. Drag it and twirl it around to keep your kitties amused.
Teaser toys can be used to engage cats at close range. I used a feather toy like this to gain the trust of a litter of feral kittens I was taming a few years ago. While the kittens were afraid of my hands, they couldn’t resist a fun bunch of feathers and they soon realized that I made the feathers move and the kittens began to trust me. Owners who take their cats to shows know all too well how great teasers are to keep their cats entertained while waiting in their cages.
Finally, laser pointer toys are a blast for getting your cats up off the sofa and running to chase the light. Owners should of course use great care not to shine the light in the cat’s eyes but in my house, the cats rarely look up at me, they’re too busy chasing the light on the floor, walls or steps. One of my cats is so intent on the light that he now chases any flash of light from a flashlight or even lead crystals I have hanging in the windows to refract the sunlight.
Whichever interactive toys your cats prefer, make sure to keep the games short enough that they don’t tire too much. This is especially important if your cat is overweight. Short sessions a few times a day should keep the calories burning and get him or her into shape in no time.
Playing with your cats strengthens their bond with you and you’ll find yourself smiling the whole time you play.
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