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Do Cats Like To Play Hide And Seek? 9 Tips On Playing With Your Cat

Written by: Ed Malaker

Last Updated on January 16, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team

bengal cat hiding in a drawer

Do Cats Like To Play Hide And Seek? 9 Tips On Playing With Your Cat

Cats are playful animals, especially kittens, and enjoy playing different games. In fact, many owners notice that their cats frequently run off and hide behind things, which can make you wonder if they like playing hide and seek.

They often enjoy playing it because it helps them use their hunting instincts. If you would like tips on encouraging your cat to play hide and seek, keep reading while we provide several pointers and answer some common questions to help get you started.

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Before You Begin

Observe your cat to see if they show interest in interactive play and seem curious about exploring, as not all cats enjoy games like hide and seek. Also, consider any health issues that might limit their ability to play. Ensure the play area is free from hazards. Remove sharp objects, breakables, or anything that might harm your cat during the game, and keep plenty of their favorite toys handy.

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The 9 Tips to Play Hide and Seek With Your Cat

1. Understand Their Instincts

Cats are natural predators, and hide-and-seek can mimic the thrill of the hunt for them. Hiding behind furniture, doors, or other objects can intrigue your cat and entice them to find you. They may also hide and call you from a different room to look for them.

cat hiding in a box
Image Credit: Counselling, Pixabay

2. Use Toys to Entice Them

You can make the game more appealing by using a cat toy, like a feather wand, and it can help signal to your pet that the game is on. Peek the toy out from your hiding spot to catch your cat’s attention, then hide it again to encourage them to seek it out.

3. Start Simple

Begin with easy hiding spots where your cat can easily find you. As they get the hang of the game, you can try more complex hiding spots to make it more challenging.

a cat hiding under a couch
Image Credit: Rawpixel, Shutterstock

4. Observe Their Mood

Some cats may not be interested in playing hide and seek or only at certain times. Pay attention to your cat’s mood and willingness to play and try to get them into a consistent routine, which will encourage them to play.

5. Use Positive Reinforcement

Once your cat finds you or the toy, reward them with a treat or affection. This positive reinforcement makes the game enjoyable and rewarding for them, ensuring they return for more.

woman giving treat to her cat
Image Credit: Julija Sulkovska, Shutterstock

6. Keep Sessions Short

Cats usually have short attention spans for play. Keep the game sessions brief but fun. No more than 5–10 minutes per session are ideal.

7. Be Patient

Not all cats will understand or appreciate hide and seek immediately. Be patient and give your cat time to warm up to the game before switching to another game.

cat welcomes his owner at home
Image Credit: Jaromir Chalabala, Shutterstock

8. Be Accessible

Make sure your hiding spots are easily accessible to your cat. Avoid places too high or too cramped for them to reach comfortably. You also want to avoid hiding in areas of the home they don’t like visiting, as they will likely leave you there.

9. End the Game Positively

Conclude the game on a positive note, with a treat or affection, ensuring your cat associates the game with a pleasant experience.

cat sleeping on owners lap
Image Credit: Karpova, Shutterstock

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Other Tips And Tricks For Playing With Your Cat

  • Experiment with various toys, like feathers, laser pointers, interactive mice, and crinkle balls, to find what your pet likes best.
  • When using toys like wands or feathers, mimic the movements of prey, which can include quick starts and stops, hiding behind objects, and erratic movements to stimulate your cat’s natural hunting instincts.
  • While laser pointers can be exciting, they can also be frustrating for cats as they never get to catch the light. Always conclude laser play sessions with a tangible toy that your cat can catch.
  • Hide small portions of food or treats around the house for your cat to find to provide exercise and mental stimulation.
  • Use cat trees, shelves, or furniture to create an environment where your cat can jump, climb, and explore vertical spaces.
  • If possible, allow your cat to explore outdoors safely through supervised time in a secure yard or using a harness and leash.

What To Avoid When Playing With Your Cat

  • Avoid using your hands and feet as toys since it can encourage biting and scratching. It can also lead to problems where the cat may not distinguish between playtime and other times.
  • Pay attention to your cat’s body language. Signs like dilated pupils, twitching tails, or flattened ears can indicate overstimulation, which might lead to aggressive play or stress.
  • Small objects like rubber bands, yarn, or string can be hazardous if swallowed and cause choking or digestive tract issues.
  • Cats sleep a lot and need their rest. Avoid initiating play when they are sleeping or seem to be in a deep relaxation mode.
  • Avoid loud noises and sudden movements that can startle and stress your cat.
  • If your cat hisses, growls, or swipes during play, it’s time to stop. These are clear signals that your cat is not enjoying the interaction.
  • Don’t Neglect Cleaning Up: After playtime, store toys safely away, especially those with strings or small parts that could be hazardous if left unattended.

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Fortunately, many cats enjoy playing hide and seek and will play it with you without much struggle. They can also learn the game relatively quickly, which can be a lot of fun for you and your pet. Following the steps outlined here should get you going. Remember to start simple so it’s easy for your cat to figure out what you are up to, be consistent and patient, and only try to get more complex once your cat is having an easy time finding you.

Featured Image Credit: Svetlana Rey, Shutterstock

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