5 Mistakes Owners Make When Trying to Get Their Cat to Play

When mimicking prey for your kitty to hunt, it’s important to remember that each feline’s behavior will vary. In other words, cats have distinctive ways of hunting that they love to act out in play. But just like you should never use your hand as a toy for kitty to wrestle, it’s important to create moments that your cat will get the most enrichment from.

In previous blogs, I’ve discussed how to prevent issues like toy fatigue and kitty boredom. But following these five tips will ensure that your feline companion gets the playtime stimulation he needs. 

1. Never stick or wave a toy in the cat’s face. It is an unusual occurrence to have a prey animal deliberately flaunt themselves in their predator's face. Remember, play time is best used when cats can mimic their natural hunting skills, so toys, and their movements, should resemble actual prey. For example, worms slowly crawl. When using our Wiggly Wand Worm, pull it along the ground slowly and let your cat stalk until she catches it. In the wild, cats wait for birds or small animals to eat or be still before pouncing on them. They won’t waste the energy trying to catch a bird that is flying around in the air. It’s the same with a mouse already scurrying away. A cat will wait until the animal is still to try and sneak up it.

2. Let cats catch their toys. It’s tempting to tease your cat because she is so easily tempted by a dancing wand toy, but cats need to be successful at hunting or they give up. Simply allowing her to grasp the toy with her paws or catch it in her mouth will make her feel accomplished and cat-like. It’s best to allow your cat to “win” at least half of the time.

3. Don’t give up too quickly. Cats need to lock in on their target and then they judge the distance before pouncing. Sometimes it takes a while before they are ready to attack, and it’s easy for us humans to lose interest. As long as the cat is still focused on the toy he is using his brain, and that’s a good thing. Cats need mental stimulation to stay healthy too. Hang in there just a bit longer.

4. Learn your cat’s play style. One of my cats loves to jump in the air to catch things mid-flight, while another prefers to run after things on the ground. Play styles can vary wildly from cat to cat, so pay attention to what yours loves. I recently blogged about cats’ unique styles of play and different ways kitty can use our fabulous Hide and Sneak tunnel.  Identifying your cat’s play style will help you choose the right toys and activities that nourish their mental and physical well-being.

5. Vary the play and vary the toys. Just because your cat has a favorite, it doesn’t mean that it’s all she wants to play with, or that it should be the only style of play. Cats need lots of variety. Try new stuff, not just new versions of old favorites, but entirely new types of toys as well. If your kitty comes running when you whip out the wand, maybe try introducing a few balls to chase. Our Wiggly Ball toys are great options for cats who may be used to our Wiggly Wand Worm.  

Cats love to play and our indoor kitties depend on us to provide them with entertainment. We would like to hear about your favorite way to play with your feline friend. How do you keep your indoor cat active, engaged, and entertained?


  • F

    I wish there was an easier way to get the toy off the wand in the midst of play! My cat loves playing, and when she catches the prey she proudly growls with it in her mouth. She wants to walk away and sit next to it for a little or bat it around as she would prey. I let her do this supervised to make sure she doesn’t ingest anything (I give her a treat after this so she has something to consume) but she often ends up dragging the whole wand away in her excited state because it is so finicky to manage the release mechanism in that moment.

  • Jennifer

    I’ve learned that some cats respond better to a toy when I add noise. Specifically, I’m talking about adding sheets of packing paper, paper bags, or something that makes a crunching sound to the play environment, and using the toy on and around this layer of paper. I’ve seen cats go from lukewarm to totally interested after simply adding this element of sound and texture to the play space.

  • Mrs Walker

    How do you get a cat intrested in playing.my cats don’t show much in great at all.

  • Farrah

    I met you at the Atlanta pet expo and bought the sample silver vine pack with the cloud. My girl just loves it and plays fetch with me!! She brings it to me then I throw it and she brings it back!! She also played with it all night the first night!!! Thank you so much!!

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