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How To Keep Your Cat Happy and Healthy - Playtime for Kitty

While dogs tend to get lots of exercise, cats are often left to their own devices, having to find their own ways of exercising if they are kept indoors.

Cats have gone from working animals to creatures of leisure. In the past, a cat spent most of its day hunting, keeping the homestead free of rodents. Today, most cats are pure companions who spend the day waiting for their beloved human to return home. Even if you work from home, it is important to set aside some time to play with your cat. Interacting with you stimulates her physically and mentally, keeping her healthy in body and mind.

The time of day you play depends on your schedule and your cat's natural rhythms. Some cats like a leisurely morning, while others are fired up from the moment they open their eyes. It may take a while to find the time that fits both of you. Once you've found it, however, don't be surprised to see your cat expecting play at that time each day. Cats are creatures of habit, and they feel most secure with a regular schedule.

Play time helps with some behavior problems. A rousing game of chase-the-lure will take the edge off of a frisky feline who tends to attack her owner's ankles. A good dose of interaction also fills her need for your undivided attention and may make her less likely to drape herself across you at an inopportune time.

Remember that if you don't want your cat to play with your plants while you're away, don't' use plant fronds as lures during play time. The same thing applies to hands; if you don't want your cat to pounce on unsuspecting visitors hands, don't use yours as a toy when playing with her. If you purchase toys for your cat, check to make sure that all small pieces are secured tightly.

The best toys for cats are often home-made and only need YOUR interaction.

My favorite is "fishing" with a piece of string or a stick. Hold the string/stick above the head of your cat pretending its a fishing rod. Your cat will delight in jumping and swatting, especially if you let her catch it once in a while.

Another favorite with my cats is to crumple a piece of paper. Just the sound of the paper seems to get them excited. Show the cats the ball of paper and then throw it for them. Watch as they chase it round the room in delight.

Some toys, such as lures attached to string should only be played with when you are there to manipulate it. If you leave it set up for her while you are gone, there is a chance she could become tangled in the string and choke. Pet supply stores carry some captivating self-play toys, such as a ball inside a track that will keep your kitty safely content while you are away. A kitty condo or carpeted tree is good investment. The multiple levels encourage climbing, while the hiding holes allow your cat to indulge her stalking instinct. Toys need not be expensive. Create a cat puzzle by taping a toilet paper roll tube to the floor and placing a cat treat inside. Your cat will enjoy trying o get the treat from the tube.

Be sure that you remain in control during playtime. If your cat starts to play roughly, rub a stuffed animal against her belly and quickly withdraw your hands. This directs her aggressive behavior onto the toy and away from you. If she ignores the toy and continues to play-attack you, end the play session and walk away. Come back in a few moments and try again. After awhile, she will learn that you control the level of play, not her.

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