Play!

Hurray for play! We all need to do this more – it changes brain waves, enhances creativity, actually improves problem solving, and keeps us young. Same goes for your kitties. Cats love routine and without some fun mental and physical stimulation they can sink into languid boredom.

Oscar is a very serious boy. He has big serious, sad eyes. He looks at me very quizzically when I do something silly in front of him. Com’on Oscar, laugh a little! Being honest, Oscar has had little to be silly about in his survival-mode life. He spent his kitten and young years avoiding starvation, cars, mean people, and predation by coyotes. Like my abused-rescue Shadow, play is an alien concept to Oscar. I think he needs to learn to play.

Nuala has donated her fabulous round Catit Senses circuit toy for Oscar’s room. I swat the ball around. Oscar does not. He just looks at me. I pull out the bug toy. Nothing. This past week I tried Da Bird. He just looked at it – when I swooped very close he backed up and looked like he was affronted by it. Lets be honest: I’ve been through the entire list I made at Christmas as perfect kitty toys.

He’s also had about 4 types of ball (bouncy, plastic, crinkly, fuzzy) with no interest. I rolled the little multi-coloured crinkled ball at him and it hit his foot and he looked sternly at it and then me – indignant at this ‘quasi-attack’. The only thing that interests him is his mousey-mouse that I dip in catnip – he licks that mouse silly!

I will keep trying. It’s so important for him to be engaged – watch the bird-feeders, chase a string, bat a ball… whatever gets him moving and thinking.

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WHY are you rolling this thing at me??

Fast-Forward~

I wrote the above about 3 days ago. Since then, we’ve had a little success with the stalwart McD’s straw! We’ve realized that when you try to play with Oscar, he remains fixated on your hands. He’s watching what you are doing and not the toy. So as he sits along our bed, we put the straw from behind the bed and it surprises him and he’ll swat at it and even roll now and then. Using the same logic, I sit on my bed (out of his sight-lines) and send da bird spinner toy flying past him. As long as I get it close to him, he’s lunging and biting at it.

Any ideas on how to teach an older cat to play?

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8 thoughts on “Play!

  1. Mine would only play with toys that resembled prey. I attached long string to a fuzzy mouse and would pull it under the bed or the couch…and I attached a craft store bird to the ceiling fan with a long string…on low speed. The mouse always worked, but they only bought the bird a couple of times. 🙂

  2. Yes I tried to get him to play with the pom poms on the back of my hat. Nothing. But you are right, he does watch your hands. I guess that is a reaction from hands that could have hit him. He is a very smart boy!!!

    • It took me all this time but here it is: I think someone treated Oscar well when he was a kitten and socialized him to people. Someone also was probably mean to Oscar – and the watching of your hands, the biting and swatting come from a flicker of fear and insecurity in his eye. I see it now

  3. Harvey has been down in the kitchen and living room this weekend on strict supervised visits. I notice that he’s playing more with Team Ginger’s toys. Maybe try giving him a toy that previously belonged to Nuala and see what happens.

    • I have given him toys used by the others – it’s more affordable for me and also I was hoping he’d get used to their smells. This is a great idea! Congrats on Harvey’s journeys to the kitchen…. for those socialized a stray or feral we know that one small step for them is really a giant leap!

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