We’ve written previously about what makes a good cat toy and how important toys are for indoor cats for weight and behaviour management. In those articles we discussed ensuring you have toys your cat can use by themselves (independent toys) and why you also need interactive cat toys.
To recap, interactive cat toys are those that in some form or another require YOU! In the Cat Habitat range our Cat Teasers are interactive toys as they require you to wave the wand so the ribbons replicate prey that puss wants to chase, pounce and jump after. While it’s tempting to wave around the wand like a mad person, just stop and think for a moment about what you’re trying to do. Your aim is to replicate how a cat’s prey would behave in the wild. Creatures that cats would prey on aren’t going to run constantly. They will run briefly then hide, move further and hide again. Your cat will respond by watching, stalking and then pouncing. Using our Cat Teasers you would want to make the ribbons wiggle along the ground, flick them up onto some furniture, or drag them around the corner so it looks like they are disappearing from view. Basically you’re trying to bring the toy to life for your cat and let them exercise their natural hunting instincts. Needless to say, you’ve got to let puss catch the prey as often as you let the prey escape, otherwise it won’t be fun for them.
Ideally, and I know this can be hard, you want to commit to at least one, preferably two, play sessions a day. Ten to fifteen minutes each time is plenty, but if your cat is older they might not be able to play for that long. At the point when it’s time to finish up, try to let the activity gradually slow down rather than just abruptly finish since this is what would happen in the wild. The prey would be worn down and puss would make her final strike.
Every cat will have a preference for the type of toys they like to play with, and how they like to play with them. As a general rule, Soph is not one for chasing. She does however go bonkers when she’s on the scratching post and we bring her Chicken Drumstick out! Pussa on the other hand is always on for a chase. When we were devising our cat teasers we wanted to remedy what we considered were the faults of cat teasers most commonly available at pet stores.
What makes a good interactive cat toy:
- The wand needs to be a reasonable length. Most of the teasers you buy at the pet shops are only about 30cm long. Try bending over for more than a couple of minutes to accommodate the short length and see how your back feels. Ours are around 60cm long, making them much more comfortable to use, especially for older people;
- The wand needs to be rigid rather than flexible. Many of the teasers readily available are quite thin, less than the width of a straw, and made of plastic which makes them very flexible. We make ours from 9.5mm wood dowel so there’s some strength there for when you’ve got a fired up cat pulling on the other end;
- Make sure that the teaser is constructed for the rigors of cat play. You want to avoid cat teasers where bits can be pulled off, especially pieces of plastic or wire that will be dangerous if swallowed by puss.
Interactive cat toys are a great way of bonding with your cat and keeping them well exercised. Just remember to put them away once play has concluded so that it’s something that remains special between you and your favourite feline.