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8 Games to Play With Your Indoor Cat: Vet-Reviewed Options

Written by: Codee Chessher

Last Updated on May 24, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team


8 Games to Play With Your Indoor Cat: Vet-Reviewed Options


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Dr. Amanda Charles

BVSc GPCert (Derm) MRCVS (Veterinarian)

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

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Dogs might be known as the more eager, trainable companions that love fetch, but your feline friends can learn tricks and play games too! Cats aren’t as eager to please as dogs, but if you experiment with the types of movement or interactions that stimulate their little brains, you’ll find your cat loves one-on-one playtime!

Whether you’re trying to break a hermit kitty out of their shell with quality time or just bond, we’ve got some ideas.

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The 8 Games to Play With Your Indoor Cat

1. Hide and Seek: Feline Edition

Cat Hiding Playing
Image Credit: Pocket Canyon Photography, Shutterstock

This ubiquitous game can be adapted into a cat-friendly version that piggybacks on your cat’s innate stalking instincts. In fact, it all starts at mealtime! At dinner when your cat’s expecting food, call their name and watch them come running expectantly. Give them a bit of a high-value treat, like tuna, then relocate to a different room of your home. Repeat calling their name, using the treat to give your cat a good reason to come find you.

You can repeat this for as long as your cat stays interested—attention spans and your results may vary.

2. String + Any Object “Fishing”

Image Credit: Kutuzova_Svetlana, Shutterstock

With just a piece of string or twine and nearly any household object, you can conjure up an invisible fishing pole that will drive your cat bananas. Tie it around a bottle cap, small cardboard box, or catnip toys, and make them appear to float aimlessly in front of your cat’s face. They’ll be instantly intrigued and likely won’t care about the string even if they notice it, but your exact item selection is the most important aspect here. Pick something your cat already loves and this game becomes much more effective at capturing and retaining their interest.

From a safety point of view, stay away from toys/objects with small parts that could be ingested, and reserve string toys for supervised play only. If eaten, string can cause serious obstructions and damage to the gastrointestinal tract.

3. Fetch

Cat playing fetch with ball
Image Credit: sophiecat, Shutterstock

Some cat owners know this, but many more are probably shocked to learn their cat can play the ultimate dog game too—with the proper incentive. Cats don’t generally love the act or game of fetch itself, but rather, what it gets them in exchange for playing along. Some dog-like breeds like the Maine Coon and Bengal might grow a liking for fetch, but otherwise, you’ll need to provide a high-value treat to entice them.

Basically, this game is highly dependent on whether your cat will bring a desired item back to you rather than just sniff and ignore it.

4. Agility Course

Red tabby cat in the tunnel
Image Credit: Kynina Olga, Shutterstock

Cats are natural athletes, but something of a superstar diva; they work when they want to. You can help speed things along by getting a compact cat tunnel. Start small with a simple, straight tunnel. Stick your hand with a piece of kibble or a treat on the opposite end of the tunnel and watch your cat come tumbling through to claim it.

You can buy more elaborate tunnels to up the game’s scale, or add obstacles your cat needs to dodge inside the tunnel on their food-related quest. To associate the action with a specific word, say, “through” or “tunnel” when you play this game.

5. Digital Cat Games

cat is watching smartphone
Image Credit: Kichigin, Shutterstock

Everyone knows the internet is mainly for cat videos, but the digital age has also gifted us with video games for cats. These simple games feature bright colors and moving animals like mice or squirrels with attractive outdoor ambient sounds to perk up their ears. Your cat will be driven to catch the prey and be bewildered as to why they can’t, leading to hilarious results.

Use old tablets or phones to do this because you don’t want your cat to scratch up any new devices with their antics.

6. Battery-Powered Interactive Toys

Image Credit: Viacheslav Lopatin, Shutterstock

Motorized toys powered by batteries are nothing new, but they’re an age-old feline favorite for good reason. They take advantage of your cat’s hardwired hunting instincts, which tell them that a moving object means prey. You can get toys shaped like mice that jitter around like the real thing, ferrets with little balls that roll around everywhere, and even flying drones that encourage your cat to show off their jumping skills.

7. Upcycle & DIY Toys

Image Credit: jojosmb, Shutterstock

You can buy all the fancy toys you want, but cats always seem to revert back to the most random junk you don’t give a second thought. Toilet paper rolls are a disposable toy your cat will enjoy shredding and large boxes become private kitty clubs. You don’t have to spend a lot of money to engage your cat and keep them occupied; the only limit is how much stuff and spare time you have to cobble something fun together.

8. Puzzle Feeders

Cat slow feeder
Image Credit: Veera, Shutterstock

Some cats turn their nose up at the effort required to extract food from a puzzle feeder, but many love the challenging, infuriating little things. The trick to getting your cat to use it is to put some kibble and an unusually high-value treat together in the puzzle feeder toy, preferably a transparent toy so they can clearly see there’s food inside.

Later, you can slowly introduce more complex puzzle feeder toys to challenge your cat’s critical thinking abilities and help encourage patience.

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Final Thoughts

Cats are inquisitive, fun-loving animals that can learn to play a lot of games with you as long as you have some free time and a little imagination. You can download fancy cat games on your phone or buy funny motorized toys if you want, but odds are your cat will be just as glad to play string fishing or peek-a-boo in a cardboard box.

See also:

Featured Image Credit: ANURAK PONGPATIMET, Shutterstock

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