Who remembers playing tag at school?
Running around for what felt like hours either trying to catch your best friend, or desperately attempting to evade their outstretched palm.
Cats maybe don’t fully understand the intricacies of this legendary playground pastime, but that doesn’t mean they don’t enjoy a game of chase.
In fact, most cats love a play session that involves some aimless dashing about. Do make sure they’re comfortable with this type of activity before you start running after them though.
Why do cats like to be chased?
First and foremost, the majority of cats find being chased fun — as long as it’s in an environment where they feel safe and relaxed.
It also appeals to their natural hunting tendencies.
Cats are predators, so it’s second nature for them to want to chase things; while the thrill of being chased stimulates play instincts.
A cat that enjoys playing chase will keep coming back for more. One who’s not too keen will tend to take shelter under a table or behind a sofa.
Should you be using toys to play chase with your cat?
Introducing specific chase-type toys to a play session could well put a spring in the step of a cat who’s been a little lacklustre of late.
Similarly, changing up the types of games you’ve been playing with them can also encourage a spike in activity levels.
Here’s a few ideas to get you started:
- Moving fish or mouse toys. Cats love to chase fish or mice, so a mechanical toy in the guise of either is guaranteed to get their adrenaline pumping. And you barely have to lift a finger. Just wind it up, stand back, and watch them run around until their little heart’s content.
- Feather wand. Using a feather wand is a great way of enticing your cat to stalk and chase. Hold the wand close to their head, slowly begin to move it away, and wait for the hunter in them to spark to life. Dragging the wand along the floor, picking up the pace as they near their ‘prey’, should elicit a similar response. Do not dangle the wand right in front of their face; this is only likely to annoy them.
- Laser pointer. For minimal effort (on your part), and maximum movement, you can’t go wrong with a laser pointer. Point the laser at the wall or floor and move the dot in small, circular movements until your cat’s curiosity is piqued. As they begin inching towards it, move it a few feet away from them. It won’t be long before they’re flying around the room in a desperate attempt to catch that elusive light beam.
- Tag. Games of tag in the playground may be a distant memory, but that doesn’t mean you and your cat can’t enjoy regular games in the living room. Chasing your feline around the house is a fun and playful way to keep their activity levels up. Tagging them once you get near enough, to see if they’ll chase you back, adds another dimension to the play session.
Should you encourage high energy play behaviour in cats?
Whipping up your cat into a high energy play frenzy is perfectly fine – as long as they are already fit and healthy.
If your feline is feeling under the weather, carrying an injury, or getting on in years, then high intensity games of chase are going to do more harm than good.
At Encore, we recommend several play sessions per day — depending on your schedule — each one no longer than 15 minutes. To stop your felines growing disinterested, keep things fresh. Try different types of games, and constantly look at introducing new toys for them to get to grips with.
If you do have an older cat, consider reducing the length and lowering the intensity of playtime, but remember, physical and mental stimulation is just as important to senior cats as it is for their younger counterparts.
Is your cat enjoying chase?
It’s vital you exercise caution when first playing chase with your feline. Some cats may interpret your over eagerness as aggression.
Observe their reaction. Do they appear anxious? Have they gone into hiding? Are they hissing?
A happy cat’s tail will stay in the air, and they will attempt to engage with you.
Never use your hands or fingers as ‘bait’ for them to chase either. This will only lead them to believe that biting and scratching you is acceptable behaviour.
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