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Home / Blog / behavior, Cat/Kitty Tips, cat behavior, ochoa / How Playing Keeps Your Cat Healthy and Smart

August 11, 2018 |4 min read |Veterinarian Reviewed

How Playing Keeps Your Cat Healthy and Smart


You’ve seen your cat playing with some surprising things. A sock from the laundry basket. Your favorite pen. You’ve probably lost items only to find them later under the sofa where your feline friend has stashed them! But why do our cats play? And what are the best ways for cats to play and stay healthy and happy?

Is Your Cat Playing or Hunting?

Cat Hunting Feather Toy

Cats are hunters by nature. If you see your cat playing with a toy or some leaves in the yard, the chances are your cat is actually honing its instinctive hunting skills. Cats often play by hunkering down and stalking objects, sometimes even our hands or feet. And when they get those claws into us, well, love hurts! If your cat decides to play with you, it’s a sign of affection and trust. Social wildcats play with each other to keep their reflexes (and claws) sharp, and your pet cat is no different. See if you can stimulate those hunting instincts by dragging a piece of string around near your cat. Most cats can’t resist the urge to chase and grab a moving object. It’s great exercise, good fun and the perfect bonding exercise between pet and owner.

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How Your Cat Playing Keeps its Mind Active

Cat with Carrot Toy

Cats play at all ages, even when they become less physically mobile. This is because play isn’t only for exercise and physical training; it keeps cat’s brains in good shape too. Just like humans, cats crave mental stimulation. In fact, cats are very susceptible to boredom, and can even lapse into anti-social behavior if not given enough stimulation. Your cat may scratch furniture, be moody or lethargic if they don’t have enough to keep their mind occupied. Toys such as a ball in a circular half-open tube that cats can bat with their paws are ideal. A scratching post with a catnip mouse attached is another great alternative. Toys like this provide a never-ending source of stimulation. You should keep your older cat playing too, even if this means they simply lie down and try to catch a toy that you wave around for them.

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Keep Your Cat Playing Healthily

Tired Cat Playing

Lethargy and poor mood in a cat might indicate something more than boredom. Cats are notoriously bad at telling you when they are in pain or sick. Cats like to ‘tough it out’, another natural instinct, but one that’s less beneficial than their hunting and playing instincts. If you normally see your cat playing, climbing, running and generally being energetic, you might be very worried if they suddenly have no energy or seem disinterested in play. PrettyLitter could help in this regard. The color changing litter indicates changes to the alkaline and acidity levels in the cat’s urine, and also can or show if there is blood in the urine. As always, if you worry about your cat’s health or behavior, speak to your vet as soon as you can.

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Watching your cat playing can give you hours of fun. Your cat is a hunter, a curious genius and loves to show you their affection by involving you in their games. Have a look at what your cat plays with, see what they enjoy the most and try and take a bit of time every day to have fun with your cat. They will thank you for it, and it will help keep them happy and healthy for many years to come.


Christina Scamporrino is a lifelong animal lover and began working in the petcare space in 2019. Christina’s passion for the community of feline owners and enthusiasts have led her to designing premium packaging for PrettyLitter cat litter, PrettyPlease dry food, wet food, and treats, and a litter box designed to solve common litter box issues.

Outside of her professional work in the petcare space, Christina is a longtime kitten foster and has worked with several cat rescues throughout Southern California. When given the option, she favors orange cats, but loves all cats equally.


https://www.linkedin.com/in/christina-tasci-68ab815b (opens in a new window)

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Sara Ochoa

Sara Ochoa, DVM graduated from St. George's University Veterinary School in 2015. Since then, she has been at a small and exotic animal practice in Texas. In her free time, she loves making quilts and spending time with her husband Greg and their 4 fur kids. Two dogs, Ruby a schnoodle, and Bug a Japanese Chin, one cat named OJ and a leopard tortoise named Monkey.

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