Big Cats in Little Bodies

kitten looking at camera while climbing up a tree

Here at Dezi & Roo, we blog a lot about the importance of varied and meaningful play for cats and kittens because it helps them to live long and healthy lives as indoor companions. In a previous blog, I mentioned some of the different ways in which your cat engages his hunting instincts. But did you know house cats share many traits with their larger, more vicious cousins in the wild? First and foremost is their instinct to hunt. So it’s no surprise that kitty’s play can look a lot like big cats hunting in the wild. So what kind of big cat hunter is your cat?

Check out these five types and see which one sounds like your feline friend.

jaguar pouncing on prey

Jaguar – These sleek felines are solitary, stalk-and-ambush predators that use a distinct killing method: they bite their prey on the head between the ears, rather than at the neck. House cats who engage in this style of hunting might enjoy toys like our Wiggly Ball because it mimics the movements of different types of prey. Your mini-jaguar can stalk and go in for the “kill” on this bouncy ball. They also might enjoy toys that look like mini animals that they can carry around in their mouths. Jaguar-style hunters are opportunistic, so you might see them attack a toy that is just lying around, or they might wait for their “prey” to move. Keep it varied, and you’ll see this kitty really come to life.

young lion in tree

Lion – These fierce cats also love to stalk their prey before going in for the big attack but lions like hiding places, and they love to pounce. House cats who hunt like lions will stalk from inside a play tunnel, like our Hide and Sneak, and attack toys that are near the hiding place. They also might love to dash from one hiding place to the next or lie in wait as their prey approaches. Lion-esque hunters are exceedingly patient and can watch their prey for a long time before bounding out from their hiding place, so don’t give up too soon or you’ll miss kitty going in for the “kill.”

cheetah climbing down tree trunk

Cheetah – These predators are most active during the day and love the thrill of the chase. Much more devious than other big cats, cheetahs trip their prey to take them down. Then they will claim their prize by taking it to a secluded place for some much-needed rest before indulging in their meal. If your cat is a cheetah-style hunter, she may engage in chase play with other cats or she may love to dash after a toy as it darts across the ground. Our Wiggly Wand Worm is great for “cheetahs” because it’s detachable, so if kitty wants her “prey” all to herself, she can take it with her and enjoy the fruits of her labor. When she’s done, you can simply reattach the Worm for your next play date.

tiger hiding behind green leaves

Tiger – These majestic big cats also stalk and ambush but they will subdue their prey before they kill. As opportunistic predators, they rely on sight and hearing to identify potential prey. Once they detect it, they stalk from a distance, hiding in tall grass, and when they pounce, they literally go for the jugular. If your cat is a tiger, he might be similar to a lion in his stalking behavior, but instead of hiding inside a dark play tunnel, this cat will more likely peer around corners and from behind furniture. Instead of a quick ambush, this kitty will slowly stalk up to their prey and then pounce from close by. These hunters will like just about any type of toy as long as it moves, but they will benefit from long pauses where they can approach from behind. If you’re using a wand toy, dangle it or drag it across the floor for kitty to see, and then stop, letting him lock eyes on it and get closer. For extra excitement, sprinkle your tiger’s toy with some Cloud Nine Silver Vine to let him use his sense of smell in the hunt. He’ll love stalking up to the enticing scent and going in for the “kill.”

fishing cat soaking wet

Fishing Cat - Fishing cats aren’t as well-known as the other big cats listed here, but they are highly unique hunters who—you guessed it—love to fish! Often they use their paws or teeth to grab fish close to shore. But you don’t need water for your fisher cat-style hunter to play. Grab a wand toy like our Wiggly Wand Squid and drag it along the ground for kitty to observe. She may enjoy looking down on her prey from a shelf or counter so she can grab it with her paws and “fish” it out of her make-believe pond. Or she might “dive” in and attack if the toy is farther from “shore.” The important thing is to mix it up and keep it interesting.

orange tabby cat with Wiggly Squid

Whatever style of hunting your cat loves, I promise you, he will get the most out of play if you learn his favorite techniques and engage him in ways that mimic real-life hunting.

We’d love to hear from you, what kind of hunter do you think your cat is?

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