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11 Vet-Verified Benefits of Playing With Your Cat

Written by: Misty Layne

Last Updated on April 30, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team

woman playing with her cat

11 Vet-Verified Benefits of Playing With Your Cat


Dr. Paola Cuevas Photo


Dr. Paola Cuevas

MVZ (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

Learn more »

Felines may have a reputation for preferring sleep to engaging in activity, but the truth is our kitty friends love to play. Whether chasing a laser up the walls or batting at a feather dangling from a wand, they enjoy playing with their families. Cat parents know that playing with their favorite feline equals a grand time for all, but does playing with them offer any benefits?

Playtime provides your kitty (and you!) with tons of benefits. In fact, playing with your cat can help them in many ways, from keeping them entertained to strengthening the bond between you. Are you curious about what other benefits occur when you play with your cat? Keep reading to learn more!

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The 11 Benefits of Playing With Your Cat

1. It’s An Opportunity to Bond

Cats are relatively low-maintenance pets, but low-maintenance doesn’t mean they never want or need you to play with them. On the contrary, they love playing with their people!

Regular playtime with your kitty reinforces and deepens the bond you have with your pet, bringing you closer together, and that closeness equals a happier, healthier cat! Aim for a couple of play sessions a day, lasting no more than 10 minutes, or alternatively, do shorter and more frequent sessions. It is best to leave a play session while your cat is still engaged rather than after they lose interest, as it ensures that they will be looking forward to more.

cat playing with woman owner
Image Credit: Oleg Ivanov,Unsplash

2. Playtime Is a Great Boredom Buster

Think about how bored you would get sitting around all day with nothing to do. Your feline friend can get just as bored when they don’t have enough to do! While cats do sleep a lot of the time, they also spend several hours awake, and without anything to entertain them, they can begin doing things such as scratching up furniture, compulsively grooming their fur, or even getting aggressive with other animals in the home. But engaging your kitty with play a couple of times a day will help stave off this boredom, making your pet much less likely to engage in negative behaviors!

3. It Can Increase the Cat’s Confidence

Is your cat on the shy side? Or do they have a tendency to be anxious? Then playing with them can help! Playing with your cat can help increase their confidence when it comes to being around others, as it gets them used to interacting with people. This confidence can translate to not immediately running and hiding when new people enter the home and making them less anxious about grooming.

cat playing at home
Image Credit: Africa Studio, Shutterstock

4. Play Is Educational

If you have a kitten, playtime can be highly beneficial to them, as it is educational. Engaging in play with a kitten helps them learn many things, like social skills, boundaries, coordination, and more. It’s ideal for kittens to play not only with you but also with other kittens, as they can learn feline social skills and boundaries.

5. Playtime Equals Exercise Time

Indoor felines are prone to being less active than cats that spend most of their time outside, which can be detrimental to their health. Engaging cats in playtime daily means they stay active, leading to their staying healthy. For instance, obesity is a significant problem in felines, and it can lead to a wealth of health issues, like diabetes. But by feeding a cat a balanced diet and helping them stay active on a regular basis, you can ward off obesity.

Playtime also helps keep your pet limber. The older a feline gets, the more likely they are to suffer from arthritis or joint issues, but by playing regularly, your cat can maintain muscle and get the opportunity to stretch and flex.

Woman Playing with Cat Outdoors
Image Credit: Helena Lopes, Pexels

6. Playing With Your Cat Is Fun

Another benefit playing with your cat offers to both you and your kitty is that it’s fun! Felines need fun in their lives just as much as we do, and while they’re great at making their own (by knocking over all the things and exploring small spaces), playing with us provides them with even more fun. Plus, it’s great fun for you too; after all, you get to see your cat act silly and enjoy themselves. What could be better?

7. It Improves Your Kitty’s Skills

Our feline friends may be cute and cuddly, but they’re natural predators, which means they have the instinct to hunt, stalk, and kill. Because indoor cats rarely have the opportunity to hunt down prey, you can help them sharpen these natural skills through play. Encourage your pet to chase after a ball, hunt a toy mouse, or stalk a moving toy to help them develop these natural instincts!

Cat playing fetch with ball
Image Credit: sophiecat, Shutterstock

8. It Offers Mental Stimulation

Cats are incredibly intelligent, and they need to have that intelligence challenged on occasion. Play lets your pet enjoy not only physical stimulation but also mental stimulation, which helps keep them sharp. Mental stimulation is especially important for seniors as they get older, since a decline in cognitive function can occur. So, give your cat puzzle toys to play with, or try out a game that challenges them to solve problems or use strategy!

9. It’s Great for Redirecting Energy

Do you have a cat that is experiencing behavioral problems? Perhaps they’re overly aggressive or continuously scratch up furniture or doors. If so, they could benefit significantly from some playtime. Redirecting this destructive energy to play enables the cat to channel that energy into something beneficial, like attacking a toy rather than a person or another animal or engaging with a scratching post instead of scratching elsewhere.

Looking for toys that cater to the many needs of your cat? The Hepper Hi-lo Cat Scratcher is one of our favorite cat products. Its clever thee-angle design offers multiple ways for your cat to climb, stretch, and exercise. Made of a sturdy plywood base and a replacement cardboard insert, this scratcher is an option that can be enjoyed by cats for years to come. If your cat requires a little encouragement for self-play, the Hepper Plush Mouse Kicker is a fantastic choice. Equipped with bite and kick-resistant fabric, an enticing internal bell, and organic catnip, cats can satisfy their natural prey instincts while getting the physical activity they need to thrive. 

Hepper Mouse kicker toy white cat playing on a scratching postscratcher
Hepper Plush Mouse Kicker Toy Hepper Hi-Lo Scratcher
Multi-level play
Multi-level play:
Multi-level play:
Interactive :
Interactive :
Promotes exercise
Promotes exercise:
Promotes exercise:
Replaceable parts
Replaceable parts:
Replaceable parts:
Satisfies prey-instincts
Satisfies prey-instincts:
Satisfies prey-instincts:

At Catster, we've admired Hepper for many years, and decided to take a controlling ownership interest so that we could benefit from the outstanding designs of this cool cat company!

10. It Relieves Stress

This is another benefit that applies to both you and your cat when you play together! Cats can experience stress and anxiety much in the same way we can, and playtime helps relieve any stress they may be feeling. Playing with your pet lets them work out aggression and release excess energy, making them much happier and more relaxed. This stress-relieving benefit goes both ways; many studies have shown that interacting with pets can cause our stress levels to decrease immensely!

11. It Aids With Socialization

Cats need to play with others to learn how to get along with various people and animals. Playing with others teaches them to respect boundaries, not to bite too hard, and more. So, playing together with your cat aids with their socialization. Play is essential if you only have one kitty, since you’ll be the only one engaging them in playful interaction. Socializing your cat properly will make them happier, more active, and more sociable with everyone they meet.

young man rubbing cats ears
Image Credit: s_Kristi Blokhin, Shutterstock

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Playing with your cat provides your kitty (and yourself) with many benefits! Engaging your pet in play allows them to nurture natural instincts, learn to socialize, relieve stress, and so much more. Aim for playing with your cat a couple of times a day for 5–10 minutes for them to get the full benefit of playtime. We guarantee they’ll enjoy it!

Featured Image Credit: Kmpzzz, Shutterstock

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