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cat behaviour >>FUN THINGS TO DO WITH YOUR cat

The majority of the cats I have seen as a veterinarian are overweight and many are suffering from stress and behaviour problems. Play and training can be used to help them lose weight, help you enjoy and bond with your cat and give them mental stimulation to reduce boredom.

Before starting on any of these activities have your veterinarian examine your cat and discuss which activities are safe/appropriate based on your cat’s health and body condition. Also ensure any toys and play structures are safe for your pet and ask your veterinarian if you are unsure. Strings are especially hazardous to your pets so don’t allow your pet to have access to strings or unsupervised access to toys with strings.

Here Are Some Ideas:

  • Interactive Play Sessions: Have an assortment of toys in the following categories:
    • Some that roll or can be thrown along ground i.e. fake or remote control mouse, ping pong ball etc.
    • Some that can be waved through the air i.e. toys with bouncy things on the end of a stick and string, toy with feathers on the end of stick and string.
    • Interactive or Puzzle toys for cats.
    • Laser light to chase.

    Then, schedule 2 - 4, short (5 minute or less) play sessions with your cat. Spend a few minutes with each toy and see if you can get your cat to play. Your cat will choose its favourites. Small tasty training treats for cats can be used to reward play or sometimes cat nip in toys can encourage play. Stop the play session when you see the cat’s interest and exuberance decreasing. Use the favourite toy for a week, then put it away and use the next favourite toy for a week and keep rotating toys to prevent boredom. The play session toys should not be left out between sessions. Do leave some other toys out though.

  • Train your cat to do something:
    • Shake a paw, give you five, stand on hind legs can be easily taught – see the videos below or find a good cat training book if you need some instruction.
    • Clicker training can be fun. See resources below. The Karen Pryor Clicker Training Cat kit is apparently quite good and inexpensive (note, I have not tried the product myself though).
    • Many cats will learn to fetch a toy and bring back for a treat.
    • Cats can learn agility either using targeting where they follow a toy or clicker training. One of the videos below shows how you can do this with simple household items. A great and fun thing that kids can do with your pets. If your pet is quite outgoing and confident, he/she may even be able to join formal classes or competitions in your area if available.
    • If you see your cat doing something fun, just give it a cat treat reward and some TLC. Once the cat is doing the behaviour for the treat, give the behaviour a name and try to use the name just as you see the cat starting to perform the behaviour. If the cat completes the behaviour, give it a treat. In time, you’ll be able to ask the cat to perform the behaviour on command and you can gradually reduce the treats.
    • Train your cat to walk on a leash. Takes patience but can be done.
  • Build something out of household items and make an obstacle course for your cat to explore. Some things I can think of:
    • Towels or sheets over stools or coffee tables.
    • Boxes of different sizes with holes for doors and windows (take out all staples and tape edges).
      • Paper bags with the ends cut out so your cat can walk through them.
    • Ping pong balls or crumpled paper balls can be placed on little cardboard stands so that they will be knocked off as the pet walks through thereby encouraging the cat to play. They can also be thrown down hallways or through obstacles.
    • Cat nip or favoured treats can be put in all the obstacles at first to encourage them to play. Once they are on to this, you can use your course to feed your pet by putting small bowls of food in or on the obstacles.
    • Sheets and ropes tied to furniture (nothing that can be pulled over or broke though) can be used to make tunnels.
    • Baskets on their side or propped so the pet can go inside. Cat friendly toys can be tied so they hang for the cat to bat around.
    • Toys with a stick, string and feather can be dragged through or presented at end of tunnels to encourage play.

You are only limited by your imagination. If you do try cat training, only use positive rewards and if your cat doesn’t enjoy it then just go back to game playing. Either way, your cat will benefit greatly from these types of activities and you will be surprised how much fun you can have with your cat! Enjoy.

More Websites:

Agility video using target training:

Agility and clicker training video using household items:  

Videos of cats doing tricks: