Solo Cat Play

Self-serve strategies in
the battle over boredom.

  1. Give your cat a variety of challenges to keep engaged throughout the day.

    Hunting is instinctive for cats. And many toys and play activities serve to mimic the hunt.

    Depending on the toy and technique, they can be used to appeal to different hunting-related behaviors such as stalking, pouncing and playing with prey.

    Here are some self-serve toys that can challenge and bring enjoyment to your cat throughout the day. 

  2. Box Toys

    These encourage your cat to use its paws to pull things closer. Or pluck a “prize” out of the holes.

    To Complete This Step

    If you’ve tried a box toy with your cat, upload a photo and tell us about your experience.

  3. Critter Toys

    One great example is a feather toy suspended from the end of a wand that’s attached to a sturdy base, or a ball that wobbles when your cat bats at it. Some bear a strong resemblance to actual prey such as mice and may squeak when squeezed or bitten. You likely will see your cat carry these types of toys around.

    To Complete This Step

    Note which critter your cat plays with most often, or the most spirited. And upload a photo of her in the moment.

  4. Catnip Toys

    You can find a number of toys that use catnip herb to both attract and keep your cat engaged. Typically, these provide a good representation of the tussle that occurs as if your cat has captured prey. Look for your cat to hug and roll with these types of toys.

    To Complete This Step

    How does she react to the catnip? Make a note, then snap and save a picture of her tussling with the toy.

  5. Ball Toys

    Look for ball toys that are lightweight, brightly colored, offer a variety of textures and possibly have a noisemaker like a bell inside or play different sounds. Some are purposely misshapen so they roll in unexpected ways. You’ll see your cat bat these toys around and give chase.

    To Complete This Step

    Does your cat have a favorite ball? What color is it? Does it make a noise or roll a certain way? Tell us, then upload an image of her at play.

  6. Scavenger Hunt

    Place five or so bits of kibble in a few random locations throughout your home that are apart from your traditional feeding location. Be sure to remove the equivalent from the daily feeding amount to ensure you don’t overfeed. This lets your cat forage while patrolling territory throughout the day. Check to see if your cat has found them at the end of each day.

    To Complete This Step

    Did your cat eat all of the food? If not, make a note about the locations he or she didn’t find. Why might this be?

  7. DIY Toys

    For all of the toys on the market, some can’t replicate the allure of a rolled up ball of tinfoil or paper.

    Other ideas:

    - Repurpose an empty 3 oz. food container (like sour cream or margarine) and fill it with beans or kibble. The container will roll around and the beans will make noise as the cat plays with it. Another possibility – a plastic Easter egg.

    - Use sun-catchers in your window to project different colors or patterns made by the sunlight down to the floor in your home.

    To Complete This Step

    Have you made a toy for your cat? Share your idea in your notes and tell us why you think your cat likes to play with it.

  8. Variety is the Spice

    Don't be afraid to take a toy out of circulation for a time. Rotate every few days to avoid burnout. Make sure the toys are different in style and function.  For example don’t replace a ball toy with another ball toy, try a mouse or chew toy instead. Choice is good, but be sure to not offer every type of toy all the time.

    To Complete This Step

    Does your cat lose interest with certain toys more quickly than others? Save your observations.

  9. Take Note

    Keep tabs on which toys your cat likes the most. How much do they resemble prey? Do they move in unpredictable patterns? Are they lightweight or have some heft?

    To Complete This Activity

    Since putting these toys into rotation, have you seen a shift in your cat’s behavior? Is it for the better? Before you complete this activity and earn your trophy, be sure to make a record about the results of your efforts.

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