Rodney Gooch, KONG Advisor Team Coordinator chats with Pets4Life about how to keep your indoor cat entertained with KONG toys. Cats who are solely indoors will require plenty of stimulation and interaction to help alleviate boredom and allow them to express their natural instincts. Playing with your cat is a great way to cultivate a bond between cat and their owner. Rodney shares his tips about entertaining your indoor cat safely.
Pets4Life: Kittens are naturally playful, what about adult cats?
Rodney: Feline play explores all parts of the predatory sequence: search, stalk, chase, pounce, catch and manipulate. Whilst play in adult cats may alter somewhat from when they were kittens, it is a common misconception that cats only play as kittens. Adult cats benefit from regular play and playful interaction with owners. Cats will vary in their motivation to play, understanding the likes and dislikes of your cat will enable you to provide the best possible opportunities for play and their receptivity to play will also depend on routines and natural activity rhythms. Establishing what stimulates your cat can require some trial and error as each cat may develop specific likes and dislikes regarding toys based on the following:
- Movement e.g., random, quick stop/start motion
- Owner interaction required
Cats are naturally neophilic (excited by novelty) so toys left out may soon lose their appeal, therefore toys should be rotated randomly and stored away while not in use. Cats enjoy play that mimics natural predatory behaviour with short bursts of activity, games that stimulate the drive to chase, pounce and catch are most popular. The best time to play with a cat is when they are naturally interested, some clues in your cat’s behaviour that indicate a good time to initiate play:
- When your cat spontaneously begins to play or bat at objects
- Sudden staccato movements and increased activity
- Dilated pupils, alert expression
Pets4Life: A large number of cat toys contain catnip. So, what is catnip anyway?
Rodney: Catnip is one of the approximate 250 species in the mint family and has a leafy green appearance. Nepetalactone, the essential oil in catnip, can turn even the laziest couch potato into an over excited kitty that is of course if said kitty happens to have inherited the sensitivity to its effects. Catnip sensitivity is hereditary – an estimated 50% of cats have no reaction. For those cats who are affected by catnip, as the scent of the plant is inhaled, it triggers a response in the brain and the chemicals are altered by nepetalactone. These alterations of the brain chemicals can also cause an effect which is similar to hallucination. Nepetalactone is not addictive or harmful for cats. The behavioural response can be very dramatic in some cats – rolling, licking, rubbing, drooling, jumping and running. Other cats appear to become very sedate after exposure.
The trait doesn’t emerge until a cat is between three and six months old; until then, a kitten will not have a response.
Pets4Life: What do you recommend to keep your indoor cat entertained with KONG toys?
Rodney: KONG has a number of puzzle food dispensing toys that are very useful for encouraging increased activity in sedentary or indoor cats. The toys provide entertainment for food oriented cats who will work at batting the toy around to attain the tasty morsels contained within.
Here are the latest KONG toys for cats 2017.
Pets4Life: What are your tips to keep your cat safe when playing with toys?
Rodney: Whilst cats don’t demonstrate the same level of destruction with their toys that dogs do, it is still wise to implement safety measures when providing kitty with toys. My 3 tips are:
- Introduce new toys under supervision – To ensure that it is suitable for the individual.
- Don’t leave teaser toys with a cat unsupervised – Strings can present a digestive hazard and requires supervision to avoid entanglement.
- Inspect toys regularly and discontinue use if worn, loose or torn.