Laughter is the best medicine! Do cats laugh; maybe. They do know how to play and have fun. There are numerous benefits to play. Play is a wonderful tool to elevate mood and can boost confidence too. It will help youngsters burn off excess energy. It also helps us learn about ourselves, our skills, limits, advantages and disadvantages. The same is true with all animals. Play offers, and is essential for, mental and physical stimulation, often causing relaxation as well.
Kittens are full of energy and life is a game for them. As they mature, some cats are less likely to engage in singular play (by their own initiative). Yet many maintain their love of play and are quite creative. For those that don't take the initiative, we shouldn't believe they are no longer interested. Realize too that some cats that were singletons, strays or ferals may not have had an opportunity to play and must be shown the endless possibilities. Life is full of fun and interesting things. Being helped to see that is where we come in (interactive play).
Birder, Mouser or Bugger
There are a number of different types of play that interest cats. Because cats are hunters, reenacting the hunt is a start to play. However, cats can have preferences of hunting styles. Does kitty play better jumping up for birds on the fly, crouching in ambush for mice or does kitty enjoy capturing and playing with bugs? Trying different toys and techniques can help determine kitty's hunting style.
For cats that are "birders," most fishing pole toys with feathers satisfy this skill set. Da Bird (Enrichment/toys page) is an excellent example. When waving the wand through the air, the sound mimics that of a bird in fast flight. The action is irresistible. This toy is meant for interactive play. For "solo" play, there are a number of options that are fuzzy and feathery. "Mouser" toys don't have to be fuzzy mice, although many cats do love the type that have "rattles" in them. Cats love to grab these in their claws, bat them around and throw them in the air. There is a large range of mice, catnip pouch critters, bunnies, cooky critters, etc.. Our Pets manufactures a line of Squeak and Play toys (Enrichment toys page). There is a chip inside that mimics a mouse "squeak" when the toy is manipulated. For cats that love to play with bugs, there are toys such as Looney Loops, crinkle balls, Kitty Flicks, The Cat Dancer and Neko Fly (Enrichment toys page). Neko flies have interchangeable attachments that include furry mice and a range of bugs, a spider and flying insects. There are even toys for cats who are intrigued with the movement of snakes. Be aware, some cats are afraid of snakes and may not enjoy such play. For those that do, there are boa feather wands and the Cat Charmer (Enrichment toys page), which is loved by many cats.
Another way to elevate mood and induce play is to give kitty some catnip. Dip toys in it, put a spoonful in toddler socks (tied or sewn closed) or sprinkle loose catnip on the floor, a blanket or some other item. Ducky World manufactures Yeowww catnip toys (Enrichment toys page). There is no stuffing; they are pure catnip through and through. They are a pure delight to cats.
Apps - Techno for Cats
There are now "apps" for Ipad and Kindles in the game sections for cats. Search cat games and a number of games by Friskies will show up, as well as others. These usually feature fish, birds, insects, mice and laser dots for kitty to capture.
Try different things, even homemade toys such as crinkled up paper for cats to bat around. Large swaths of paper are great fun for cats/kittens to romp in. The noise seems to be half the fun! The options are practically endless.
Have fun and the bond between you and kitty will grow as well. Play time will be looked forward to by you and kitty! If possible, it is recommended to keep play as a part of a daily routine. For young or high energy cats, twice daily is recommended.