Why doesn’t my cat like to play with toys lying on the floor?

During a consultation I discuss with owners how they can get their cat to play more. Playing in all its forms is important to relieve stress, to distract the cat from possible stressful situations, to keep them fit and above all because provoking natural behaviour makes the cat happy. She’s doing what she’s made to do.

Owners sometimes easily answer that their cat doesn’t like to play.

Um…

Your cat is a born hunter, she wants to play. And playing is something that cats know in different forms. To start with, we distinguish 3 different types of play and every cat has an individual preferences within these three types.

1. Social play

Cats play with each other. They practice many behaviours that they have to master in order to survive at a later moment in time, for example fighting and hunting. When they are young, playing is a super important part of the daily behavioural repertoire of kittens but also as cats get older and they are in the same social group with another cat, playing with each other is a wonderful form of friendly behaviour and exercise for cats. Social groups can only grow healthily if we support them with an abundance of resources, not only in quantity but also in locations.

2. Locomotor play

You know those moment that you go “my cat is running around the house like crazy”, those are the moments that cats play with their environment. They climb, jump, scratch, walk and hop around like crazy. Cats love free heights, hiding in all the nooks and crannies, and exploring on top and inside cupboards and closets. That’s why I advise to let your cat do this as much as possible. It usually doesn’t take them long, so just let them go and have a look in that closet, in that box or behind the TV, they’ll be back in no time!

3. Hunting

Later in the challenge we will talk about hunting play, but here is the answer to the title of this article.

Cats of course love to play with little prey. They are programmed as determined, opportunistic and extremely skilful, but not always so successful hunters. Every moving or fiddling thing is going down! Still, there are a lot of misunderstandings about this.

Owners often say: “Look how many toys Lilly has at her disposal, and yet she never plays with them” and then I look around and see 15,896,411 toys lying on the floor (or something around that number ). And then I’ll explain to the owner that this is completely normal.

It is true that cats get less fond of their toys. This has also been scientifically researched. Cats are not very inclined to hunt after something that firstly is laying still, secondly does not smell like prey and thirdly has already ‘been killed’ by them, because it may be in a state of decomposition.

It is therefore very important to alternate regularly, even daily and to make sure that the cat doesn’t have to move the prey itself. Movement and smells are the most important things to get a cat going. Colours really don’t matter, so feel free to choose something that you like and that matches your interior.

Variety is super important

That’s why I recommend owners to do two things:

1. Create a play diary

By drawing up a schedule on where, and in which rooms in your home, you can provide which toys on each day of the week. You get an overview of what you actually have in the house, you can see if it is challenging enough in terms of smells, structure and sound. You can then create a play box per room if desired.

2. Play box

You can put together a play box per day, per smell, per room or even per cat. It just has to be a well-sealed box, like Tupperware. You put a nylon sock with catnip and/or valerian in here, which ensures that these smells are constantly emerging with the toys. This keeps the toys smelling good (for your cat at least ). Why a sock? You can try it without, but this will fill your house with herbs everywhere!

That’s how we are at I love Happy Cats, hands-on and practical :).

Love, Anneleen ♡

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