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Why Won’t My Cat Play With Me? Tips to Help Your Cat Play More

10 Jun 2022.

You source the coolest cat toy you can find online and wait in anticipation for it to arrive. You unwrap the box and prepare for your kitty to be awed and impressed, only for Mr Whiskers to act completely disinterested. Every paw parent has been there, but it doesn’t make the situation any less frustrating! Are you wondering why your cat won’t play with you? Below, Cat in a Flat breaks down the reasons your cat won’t play and how to encourage them to play more! 

Is it normal for my cat not to play? 

While certain breeds, like the British Shorthair, can be less active than others, all felines possess natural hunting instincts. Playing with your cat is an important part of encouraging those instincts and keeping your furry friend happy and healthy. 

Remember that all kitties are different. Some will be very playful, while others less so. If your cat enjoys daily playtime but simply isn’t as playful as other cats, there’s no cause for alarm. Age, breed, and personality all play an important role in how playful your cat is. However, it’s not normal for your cat to refuse to play at all. If you’re cat has stopped playing completely, this could be a sign of an underlying issue. 

cat play tips

Reasons your cat won’t play with you

  • Illness. If your feline never seems to be in the mood to play, it may be necessary to book an appointment with the vet. A lack of interest, decreased activity, and lethargic behaviour can all be signs of a sick cat
  • Stress. Felines are very sensitive to changes in their environment. Have you moved house with your cat recently? Been to the vet or travelled somewhere with your kitty? It’s possible your cat won’t play because there have been changes in their surroundings that Mr Whiskers is still adjusting to. 
  • Boredom. Just like cats can get bored of their food, they can also get bored of their toys! To avoid toy boredom, go through your cat’s collection every six months or so and spruce them up or replace them. Not to worry, this doesn’t have to mean spending money on new playthings. Some cat toys you can make for free or at very little cost!
  • Loneliness. Cats may be independent by nature, but this doesn’t mean you can leave your kitty to their own devices all the time. Playing daily with your fur friend is incredibly important. Not only does it strengthen the bond between the two of you, but it’s great for both your and your cat’s mental health. Introducing a new kitty into the home is another way to combat Mr Whiskers’ loneliness. A second fur friend will give your cat someone to play with when you’re not around. It’s also important to book a great cat sitter so Mr Whiskers gets his daily playtime, even when you’re away from home. 

How to get your cat to play more

Once you’ve ruled out why your cat doesn’t want to play with you, it’s time to figure out how to get them to play more! Here is the why, when, what, and how behind playing more with your cat.

Why should I play with my cat?

Playing with your kitten helps them develop both physically and mentally. As your cat gets older, the way they play may change. Your fur friend will start to stalk, pounce, and bite objects—all skills your kitty needs when hunting! Cat play is healthy because it allows your cat to act out their natural hunting instincts, relieves boredom, and keeps them physically healthy. While playtime is important for any type of cat, it’s especially important for indoor felines who don’t have access to the outdoors. 

When should I play with my cat?

Even the most playful kitty may not be in the mood all the time to play. Cats sleep a lot and are most active at the beginning and the end of the day. This is when, if they were hunting in the wild, their prey would also be out and about. Hence, either in the morning or in the evening is a good time to play with your fur friend. 

What are the best toys for my cat? 

The type of toys your cat likes will depend on their personality. It can take some trial and error to find out which toys your fur friend prefers, but it’s well worth it if it encourages Mr Whiskers to play more! Try out a variety of cat toys to see what your kitty enjoys. Here are some of the best toys for cats:

  • Fishing rods — There are a wide variety of fishing rod type cat toys to choose from. When playing with your cat, allow them to ‘catch’ the feather or plush toy at the end of the string. This boosts their confidence and keeps them from losing interest. 
  • Climbing toys — Provide plenty of vertical toys for your kitty to climb on. These can include shelves, cat trees, and scratching posts (the taller the better!). 
  • Food games — Mr Whiskers doesn’t have to hunt for his food, which means you need to add some excitement to mealtime. A treat egg or food puzzle are great interactive food games for cats. 
  • Scented toys — Our fur friends’ sense of smell is 14 times better than their human counterparts. Which is why catnip mice, fish, balls, or pillows make enjoyable scented toys for cats. 
  • Hiding gamesCats love boxes because they are the perfect hiding spot from which to pounce on their unsuspecting prey (aka your feet)! Both boxes and cat tents provide privacy and fun places for cats to hide.

Note: Read up on which toys are dangerous for felines so you know what to avoid. And always store toys out of paw’s reach when you’re not playing with your cat. Not only does this make it more exciting when you get the toys out every day for playtime, but it’s safer for your fur friend as well. 

How should I play with my cat? 

Cats are naturally active in short bursts, so aim for a few daily 15–20-minute play sessions. If possible, always play with your cat at the same time each day. Give your kitty time to rest throughout the session and stop playing with them if they lose enthusiasm. You should never force Mr Whiskers to play if he doesn’t want to. 

Only use toys to play with your kitty. Avoid wiggling your fingers or feet under blankets or rugs to tease them as this will encourage your fur friend to grab or bite you. And be sure to create positive reinforcement for your kitty by rewarding them with treats and cuddles once playtime is over! Still not sure how to approach playtime with your furry friend? Here are a few extra tips to help you out.

Looking for more cat care tips? Check out our blog posts on the essentials of daily cat care and creative ways to encourage your feline to drink more water

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  • cat play
  • cat toys
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