Cats are lazier than their ancestors for a reason. They no longer have to hunt for their food or travel long distances to find new hunting grounds and water. Domestic cats don’t have to expend energy defending cubs from larger creatures or fighting other cats to determine who is in charge (though you may see such a tiff in multiple cat households occasionally).
Many cat owners will say that, rather than being lazy, cats are energy efficient. This is true. If you study cats in the wild, they do not waste energy on anything but hunting, play (which develops hunting skills), traveling and climbing, mating, or defending and protecting. Wild cats sleep about 16 hours, while domestic cats often sleep up to 20 hours. For the wild cat, the sleep is needed because, as hunters, they require a great deal of impulsive energy to make their kill. Our cats sleep more, often because they’re bored as they don’t have the stimulation of the hunt. So, it’s up to us to simulate a wild cat’s tracking and pouncing on prey by making sure our cats play enough.
There is the occasional cat who plays on her own or with other cats in the house but it’s likely you’ll need to either be a part of playtime or find an enticing toy your cat play with on her own. The key to catch your feline’s interest is to use good interactive cat toys. The toys listed below can be found in many major pet stores or are easily searched for online.
Da Bird – This toy is so popular you may have to get on a wait list. Da Bird is a rod with feathers attached, and it mimics the flight and sound of a real bird. It’s quite simple but provides hours of fun.
Crinkle Balls – These lightweight balls make a crinkling noise that drives cats crazy. They tend to carry these around and bat them with their paws. You can add excitement by rolling them across the floor.
Panic Mouse – This automated toy has a feather on the end of a wire that moves back and forth and has several speeds to choose from.
Mewvie Birdland Bonanza – This isn’t exactly a toy, it’s a DVD full of twittering birds and scampering creatures that will keep your cats entertained for hours. It can be set to play in a loop for those kitties that just can’t get enough.
Furry Mice – This simple cat toy has been around for ages and still entices cats today. Get one that has a cavity for catnip and you’ll really get Fluffy interested when you toss it down the hall.
Crazy Circle – This is a simple interactive toy made of a plastic ring with a ball inside it. There are paw holes all around it so your cat can bat the “prey.”
Neko Flies Cat Toys – Like Da Bird, the Neko Flies collection involves a rod and urges kitties of all ages to sharpen their pouncing and swatting skills. But this time, the dangling object is one of several bugs! And we all know how tantalizing a flying or crawling insect can be to a cat. They also have a mouse option for felines that prefer their toys with some fuzz.
Peek-a-Prize Box – This is a box with holes on the top and sides. Put your cat’s toys in it and watch them work at getting them out. Crinkle balls work well as do treats or treat toys.
Sisal Roller – This is made by LazyPet, which offers many interactive cat toy choices. The Sisal Roller has a base filled with catnip that is great for cats to scratch. It also has a dangling pom pom and jingle bells. The toy can be rolled to entice your cat to pounce or left standing for your cat to play with on her own.
Kitty Hoots Bobber – This toy has a rounded base that bobs back and forth when your cat plays with the dangling feather that extends from it. The bobbing movement is very interesting to cats.
There are other ways you can help your cat get more active. Playing is great exercise but you cal also put a harness on your cat and take her for a walk. Some cat owners even get special, small treadmills their pets can use inside. And remember that cats often like the simplest of interactive toys such as a cardboard box or a large paper bag with the handles cut off (safest when played with under your supervision). A bird feeder outside can also be great stimulation for cats who love gazing out the window.