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Playing it safe

26 March 2020
Playing it safe

It isn’t just kittens that enjoy playing – adult cats also benefit from regular play times. But there are some precautions cat owners can take to make sure their cats gain the most out of play.

Just before Christmas 2019, Brighton cat Mavis became ill. She was subdued and had stopped eating. A visit to a vet and an ultrasound revealed a foreign body in her digestive system. The culprit was a large piece of elasticated string from a toy that Mavis and her brother Sid had destroyed several weeks earlier.

Mavis’ owner said: “One night with the new toy was all it took: it was in pieces the next morning but we assumed we had disposed of all of it – obviously not. Mavis must have either gobbled it then and it bounced around for a month or two, or found it later and eaten it. The toy was clearly very poor quality.”

Visits to the vets, overnight stays, scans and medication meant the final bill was an eye-watering £2500. Luckily, Mavis’ owners had pet insurance. Mavis has fully recovered.

Cats Protection advises owners not to leave cats alone with toys that can be shredded, eaten or in which they can become entangled. If you are on a budget, there are simple toys you can make for your cat. For example, cutting holes into a cardboard box can provide a stimulating activity centre for your cat. You can also screw up some tinfoil to make an easy, interactive ball for your cat to chase.

Cats most enjoy playing with toys that make a high-pitched noise or that move like their prey – fishing rod toys or good quality catnip toys are ideal. Don’t forget self-directed toys, such as ping pong balls for when you are out or your feline friend wants to play on its own.

When playing with your cat, you should replicate prey behaviour, by moving the toy away from the cat. You should allow your cat to catch the ‘prey’ as this will release endorphins, making your cat happy. This is why CP warns against using laser pointers as a toy – cats can become frustrated as they never ‘catch’ the red dot.

Ideally, you should try to play short games of a few minutes with your cat frequently through the day, to mimic their natural hunting behaviour. As your cat gets older, adapt how you play with them to reflect their level of ability.

More information about playing with your cat is available here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=135&v=ROMUHJuRVhA&feature=emb_title