Christmas came a little early for the menagerie cats. The nice man in blue came with a huge box stuffed with cat toys, and everyone has been sampling these toys all week long (more on that in a minute).
Since the cats (all of them) have been playing so frequently this week, I've seen a dramatic decline in behaviors I don't like, including chasing and mock charging and pawing at the humans. These guys have been playing really hard and then sleeping really hard. In short, they're enjoying life a little more.
That's something I want to encourage. The happier my cats are, the better! And it means I'm adjusting my life in just a few ways to ensure that everyone has playtime everyday. Here's what I'm doing.
1. Replace social media time with cat play dates.Like most people who have smart phones, I'm accustomed to snatching a few minutes here and there for precious Facebook, Twitter and Instagram time. A quick 15-minute browse through all of my channels helps me to feel at least somewhat connected to the virtual world.
But the real world is a little more important, don't you think?
Replacing just one of these social media checks with a cat play date helps to ensure that the cats get a little playtime sprinkled throughout the day. And spending time with the cats is rewarding for me (and some studies suggest that spending time on social is actually bad for your mental health). Replacing something potentially bad with something potentially good seems like a winner all around.
2. Invest in self-directed cat toys.This one is super easy for me, as I won an amazing giveaway of interactive pet toys from SmartyKat (thank you, Sweet Purrfections!). This blog post is illustrated with photos of little kitten Fergus playing with an interactive, battery-operated, twirly ball. The more he bats at it, the more it moves and spins.
Toys like this are great for those hectic moments when a kitty needs to play, but you don't have time to completely direct the play session. I've been setting this toy down when I'm doing something like washing the dishes. When I'm done, I pick it up and round out the play date with 5 minutes of laser toy play. He gets a workout in, and I get my tasks done.
3. Keep kitty toys handy.Some cats, including Fergus, will do something akin to fetching. If I throw a cat toy his direction, he'll scamper after it and play with it for a few minutes before growing bored and coming back for more attention. I keep a bowl of mice and pom poms and other little toys in an easily accessible place, like the coffee table. That way, when I'm reading or talking on the phone, I can toss him a toy and keep him engaged in play. It's not terribly distracting for me, and it keeps him busy.
Playing with your cats is a commitment, to be sure. It takes planning and dedication, so you stick with the goals you've set out. But the enrichment your cats get from your small devotion to play is really huge.
How often do you play with your cats? And how do you stay motivated to keep the playdates going? Leave me a note in the comments and let me know!