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Why cats need to play

Play keeps your cat healthy.
Play keeps your cat healthy.

Kittens love to play. They will pounce on, chase or grab anything that moves, including you. Their uncoordinated movements are charming and cute, and watching them grow is fun. But once a kitten reaches adulthood play time is just as important and cat mom or dad may need to make sure it continues.

Indoor cats especially need manufactured play time. They need exercise to keep muscles strong and their weight at a healthy level. Play also benefits cats in other ways.

Cats are natural hunters. They are carnivores, and in their native outdoor environment, they hunt their food. Interactive playing (you playing with your cat) lets your cat hone his hunting skills: seeking the enemy target, making the stealthy approach, pouncing with conviction, relishing the victory.

Playing is a positive way for your cat to release negative energy or aggression. If Kitty has regular, high energy play sessions, he will be much less likely to destroy items you treasure, such as furniture or Grandma’s precious antique vase. Like people, cats have moods. Regular exercise regulates a cat’s body chemicals just like in people. Along with training, cats that exercise will be even tempered and not become aggressive due to boredom while you are at work or out of the house.

Interactive playing strengthens the bond between your cat and you. You enjoy time spent with friends. The ones you enjoy most, you seek out for more companionship. The same goes for your cat. You are Kitty’s best friend. Through interactive play, you teach socialization skills, boundaries, and appropriate pet behavior. You reinforce all the good characteristics a well behaved pet should have.

Playing helps a shy cat gain confidence. Just like people, some cats are very friendly, and others may need encouragement to explore the big world of home. Playing helps the shy cat experience success doing what comes naturally. The next time they hear the jingle ball, the will be more likely to associate success and fun with the sound, and eventually initiate play on their own terms. Soon you can move play to a new area of the house and kitty will discover fun in every room.

A hearty play session is a good way to ease your cat's transition to a new home. Moving can be stressful for pets. The consistency of fun in any environment can help a cat quickly acclimate to a new environment. The rooms may look and smell different, but the toys and you are the same. Cats are curious, and placing a familiar toy in a new spot in a new home will help him explore and feel comfortable very quickly. Add lots of praise and you are there.

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