How Do I Get My Cat to Play?

Cat personalities differ considerably, but most felines enjoy a good play session on a regular basis. So what do you do if your cat won't play with you? Gloria A. writes:

Muffy is ten years old and my only cat. She hardly ever plays. I have tried all kinds of toys. She just stares at then 90% of the time. I do play with her some. But she likes to sleep most of day. I am a senior. She is in excellent health. She follows me around when she is awake. When l first got her she was the third cat. My vet said all she needs is me. I do not know what to get her to play by herself.

Gloria, at the age of ten, Muffy is now considered to be a senior kitty. As such, she'll have a little less energy to devote to playtime, so it's not uncommon to see a general slowdown.

As to how to play with her, most cats do not respond to toys, but to human interaction USING toys. Very few adult cats will play on their own. Yes, kittens will play with virtually anything on their own, but once they reach adulthood, their energy is devoted to hunting, not playing. Playtime for adults has to emulate the process they'd experience hunting prey in the wild.

In order to coax a cat to play, even a senior cat, you have to do a little trial and error to see what she responds to. Check out our toy recommendations here:

http://kittyhelpdesk.com/help-desk/cat-toy-recommendations . 

Most cats love wand toys like the one we show on our list, so that's where we usually start. You want to tease her with it, dragging it around corners so she has to get up and move to see where it went. Cats are very curious, so moving a toy in such a way almost always piques their interest.

The key really is your own attention and interaction. A toy is only fun when it's powered by a human to emulate how a cat's prey might move. We want to lure them into the hunt. Once you see playing as hunting, it can help you to understand how to play.

This still doesn't guarantee that Muffy will engage in play. You have to be patient and offer it before mealtimes. If she turns away, don't give up. Just offer it regularly and see if she'll come around. You may find that you actually have to teach her to play more. Of course, she should always have the choice to refuse. You don't want to force it on her or she'll associate negative feelings with her toys. Just patiently and kindly offer to play with her at about the same time each day.

Wishing both of you all the best!