While dogs have a higher playtime profile, with elite Frisbee competitions and obstacle courses in dog parks, cats go for their own lower-key version of the summer Olympics. You won’t need a leash or expanse of sunny lawn, just some imagination and your cat’s own sense of curiosity. You may have to offer a little extra encouragement to entice Kitty away from bird-watching at the window, as cats usually like to see a demo before spending their energy learning the rules for a new game. All of these games include your participation, the playtime ingredient cats enjoy most. By the way, these games come tested and approved by my own cats.
Bath Tub Ping-Pong
Bouncing a ping-pong ball into an empty bathtub will bring your cat running. Take all soap, shampoo and other products out of the way, and close the drain to keep the ball from settling there. Cats will enjoy chasing the ball as it rolls from side to side. They’ll hit it with extended paws, kick it with hind feet or carom it off the edge to see it fly high. More than one ping-pong ball turns your tub into a kitty arcade as the balls cross paths and the cat does his best to follow both. If the rocketing sound of a ping-pong ball is too loud for you, substitute one of those plastic Easter eggs that cats also love. Lighter in weight, these oval shapes will spin and tumble as your cat bats them back and forth. The eggs also come apart, and cats enjoy capturing the halves between their paws, or picking one up in their teeth, making Kitty look like he’s wearing a colorful surgical mask.
Once you’ve played bathtub ping-pong with your cat, he may start a rousing game on his own at midnight unless you hide the ball for next time.
Paper Bag Hide & Seek
All cats love paper bags. Perhaps in another life they spent time shopping. Whether it’s a fancy, oversized department store tote or a plain brown sack from the supermarket, a bag is a magical hideout for a feline. Something about the crackle of the paper and the semi-darkness of the interior spells intrigue. Place one on the floor and watch your cat inspect, then explore. Some cats find paper bags so cozy, they’ll curl up for a nap, while others use the cover to peek out and pounce on the first pair of feet to walk past. Tap on the outside, and your cat will respond from inside, or a paw will shoot out to nab you. Toss a toy inside and watch your cat chase and capture it, or attach a toy or paper to a string, then pull it slowly past the bag’s opening.
If the bag has handles, always cut those off to keep your cat from putting his head through the loops. Never use plastic bags, as cats can choke on plastic or get hung up on the handles.
That office staple, the yellow sticky note, is a simple prop in a favorite cat game. Although I had never thought of offering a Post-it to a cat, my pastel calico Cassie started the tradition when she pawed several sticky notes from the fridge, chewed and crumpled them into feline-styled origami, then batted them away. She carried one in her mouth and placed it at my feet, like a dog waiting for someone to play fetch. I lofted one, then another, and she was off, swatting them like hockey pucks, controlling their path with first one, then the other forepaw. I soon realized Cassie preferred to chase the Post-its, not retrieve them, and when she tired of the game, she signaled a timeout by stretching out on top of several, essentially blocking me from flicking them her way.
Do the same for your cat: Roll a Post-it or two into a loose ball, then finger-flick them across the room or directly into your cat’s path. It’s especially fun on a smooth surface, like tile or laminated flooring. Post-it hockey can be played by multiple cats at once, all of whom may decide to pick up and carry the puck away. But for just a few dollars, you’ll have enough equipment for a full season of cat hockey playoffs.
Chasing Shadows on a Wall
Dancing shadows on a wall will prompt cats to run and leap to examine those elusive moving shapes. Play at twilight, or with your lights turned out. Using the beam of a large flashlight, hold up a cat toy on a string and dangle it in front of the light to create a bouncing shadow. Swing several toys in unison, or whirl one in quick, then slow, moves. Any toy (or your hand) will result in a shape that looms large and fascinates the cat. But even a plain flashlight beam, playing in circles or patterns on the floor or wall, will have your cat giving chase. That glowing white light is something your cat will try to track down and catch. If he lands on a beam, flick the light off and he’ll wonder where that little sucker went. Or he’ll feel smug: He’s bagged his prey after all.
Felines are fascinated by bubbles floating through the air — perhaps they glimpse a funny reflection of their own images. But those can burst and get a sudsy mix in a cat’s eyes or on his fur, or he may bite at one and get a mouthful of soap –ewww!
But there’s relief. Special catnip-scented bubble mix is available for as little as $2, enabling you to produce shiny orbs to delight Kitty. Use a clean bubble-blowing wand, the kind you had when you were a kid, or try a bubble blower specially designed for use with pets. Your cat will be mesmerized by a trail of bubbles wafting around his home, and if he grabs one, the enticing scent and taste of catnip will make this one of his favorite games. Most cats will chase after the bubbles, but more sedentary (or savvy) kitties will watch and wait for them to drift close to floor level before cornering them and grabbing to examine this strange object up close. When it vanishes in front of his eyes, you can launch a few more into the air, much to your cat’s delight.
Source: this information was copied from the Animal Planet website