What’s more fun than playing with cats? Playtime is one of my favorite ways to bond with my three cats. I love watching them chase jingle balls, roll around on the floor with catnip mice, and jump for the floofy feather on the end of the wand.
Sometimes, however, it’s entertaining to create more of a challenge for them. I think we all agree cats are smart, right? I’m not above admitting being outsmarted by a cat a time or two … or twelve.
My smartypants Phoebe often creates challenges for herself by deliberately trapping a toy in an out-of-the-way space and then concocting creative ways to dislodge it. Cosmo and Saffy enjoy challenges as well, particularly the ones involving how they’ll manage to swoop in and pilfer Phoebe’s food or make away with part of a sandwich.
A few years ago my vet told me cats get bored and that’s when they sometimes get into trouble. She suggested developing simple games for them, providing opportunities to test their problem-solving skills. And hopefully keep them off the kitchen counter.
Instead of flicking the feather wand for the 384,997th time, I occasionally create fun challenges for the kitties. And they involves treats — bonus! I build what I like to call Kitty Amusement Park in the middle of the kitchen floor.
I begin by grabbing any sort of container they can crawl into, jimmy open, or reach through in order to grab a delicious treat.
Typically I use bags of various sizes, empty toilet paper or paper towel rolls, containers with lids, shoes, boxes, and books. I then arrange them on the kitchen floor.
By that time, the cats know something’s up and begin gathering at the gates of Kitty Amusement Park. I remind them the park isn’t quite open and to please begin queuing up at the entrance. They aren’t always so cooperative and sometimes try to rush the gate. Once I had to call security to have them escorted off the premises. That never happened again. Probably.
Once all the containers are positioned, I place a single treat inside each one of them. I don’t fully snap the lids on the containers — I try and make the game challenging enough without completely irritating them.
With the empty rolls and book “tent,” I push the treat to the middle so, from either end, they must reach in to release the goody. Then I open the gates and officially invite my guests to Kitty Amusement Park. The excitement is palpable.
They immediately rush to the bags because they’re the easiest to penetrate. Sometimes I must call them over to the more difficult challenges and show them there are treats to be had. They then begin the thinking cats’ work of attempting to retrieve the treats.
I find the containers with lids present the biggest challenge, but the persistent pussycats work at them until they have their paws on the prize.
The tiny lidded containers seem to be the most difficult to crack — the cats tend to push the container across the floor, looking confused all the while. It’s pretty humorous, but they always manage to somehow oust the tempting treat.
My favorite obstacle to watch is the cereal box. Cosmo is especially fond of that one. He inserts his head inside the box and then slides it across the kitchen floor — Honey Bunches of Cat Head. On occasion I have to remove the box before he runs into a cabinet. Then, of course, I give him the treat. What am I, a monster?
The shoe is always a popular one. The challenge of trying to remove the treat, along with the fine bouquet of foul footwear, is a kitty conundrum: “I really want the treat, but I also really, really want to bury my face in the shoe and keep it there.” Sometimes it’s really hard to be a cat.
My kitties and I have really come to love our time together at Kitty Amusement Park. This game adds a bit of variety to the typical play time and it’s so fun to watch them maneuver around and through the containers and wind up with a tasty treasure.
Plus, at Kitty Amusement Park, there are never any rainouts, the lines are fairly short and the season passes are super-cheap.
What kind games do you play with your cats? Tell us about them in the comments!
This post was sponsored by TEMPTATIONS┬« Treats for Cats — Cats Can’t Resist ┬«.
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