Having fun getting fit

Encouraging your cat to play will not only keep her stimulated, but it'll be a great way to keep her fit. Plus, it's a lovely way of spending some time having fun with your feline friend.

Cats are fun loving, playful animals, and they're also great at thinking up new games for themselves. Still, you can introduce your own games for some extra fun.  There are all sorts of toys you can buy for her. Ping-pong balls, balls of wool and catnip toys are great, but make sure you replace the catnip toy once the herb runs out, and keep an eye on her with that wool (in case she starts to eat it!).

Bear in mind, though, that cats are a lot harder to please than dogs. You'll need to really work to get her interested in your idea and, in fact, the best way to get her to play and exercise on demand is to make her think it was her idea all along.

Boxing day

Cardboard boxes are your friend as a pet owner. They make a great sun shelter during the summer, and a wonderful play toy too. If you have more than one cat, you might even find them playing hide and seek.

Make sure the box is sturdy and that she doesn't chew at it.

Things on strings

Most cats are oddly fascinated by anything that's attached to the end of a piece of string. Dangle a little fuzzy thing in front of her and she'll be able to indulge herself in fantasies of being a ferocious hunter stalking her prey.

This game will keep her amused and active for quite a while, and you can mix things up by introducing a feather or other object she can paw at. Just make sure you don't get scratched.

Play school

Some cats like the sound and feel of rustling paper. A large paper bag might keep her amused for a while, and you can put toys inside to make it even more fun. Other ideas for toys are sturdy corks; empty wrapping paper tubes with a long piece of colourful string attached; old tennis balls or fabric stuffed with old stockings.

If possible, try and provide places for your cat to climb inside. Scratching posts and climbing frames provide an excellent opportunity for exercise and stimulation. You may notice that some cats, like dogs, actually start fetching toys and bringing them to their owners to throw so they can run and fetch them again. Other cats will have to learn a more "cat-like" version of the game which will have to be done on their terms.

To coax your cat to fetch firstly

  • Pick a small, light toy that your cat really likes.
  • Call your cat's name while throwing the toy up and down a bit.
  • Let her see you having some fun with her toy.
  • Keep the toy visible, sit in a chair and throw the toy so that it lands near your cat and let her play with it.
  • Just as she's about to get bored, call her name and pick up the toy.
  • From your chair, do the throwing routine again.
  • Do it for about 10 minutes or so, twice a day. Hopefully, your cat will get the idea and start bringing the toy back to you.
  • Then you can vary your throws. For example, throw the toy behind obstacles and furniture to make her hunt for it. Not every cat will be enthusiastic about this, but you never know, yours may be.

Chase me

Your cat might like to encourage you to chase her around your home. Some cats do this every day at a certain time, usually at night when they're just waking up properly. If you see your cat run across the room in front of you and hide behind curtains, run after her, peek behind the curtains and watch what she does. If she suddenly dashes off across the room to hide in a cupboard, then peeks out at you, this is your cue to run after her. As you can imagine, this is a great way for her to get some exercise.

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