Tag Archives: Game

Why does my cat play with his prey ?

Our humans learnt as toddlers not to play with food, but us, cats, learnt exactly the opposite with our mom : you’ll see, there are several reasons for it.

PIXIE : This day, I was very proud, because I had caught this bird alone ; Zorro watched my activity by far, but did not intervene. When Claire took photos, I had already begun my dance of victory.

Why does my cat play with his prey ?

cat playing with a prey 1

Because he does not know how to kill her

An indoor cat since several generations has doubtless never seen another cat killing a mouse or a bird previously. He will play to hunt and to catch a toy in movement, and will be thus capable of catching a real prey, but might not know how to kill her because he has never learnt how to do it.
cat playing with a prey 2

Because he wants to be able to kill his prey easily and in complete safety

Cats capture and immobilize their prey with their claws, then kill it by a bite in the nape of the neck which splits her spinal cord. To do it, the cat has temporarily to release his prey from his claws and approach his snout. When his snout is at a distance of no more than a whisker of the prey, the cat cannot see her any more, and he is at risk of a wound to eyes, nose, or mouth. Any prey will seize the slightest opportunity to run away or to defend fiercely her life by bitting (rodents) or by pricking (birds).

What humans take for a game is in fact an instinctive way for the cat to tire and to disorientate a prey : pawing her, throwing her in the air, catching her up, and beginning again… But if the cat is too much in a hurry and approaches too early his snout to bite, he risks to be hurt.

Often, the game breaks off : the cat goes away a little and seems to lose interest in his prey. He is in fact verifying that he can deliver the fatal bite. Indeed, it happens that a prey plays the dead, or does the exhausted animal : if the prey tries to escape, the cat will be near enough to catch her up, and the game will start again, until he is sure that he can kill his prey in complete safety.
cat playing with a prey 3

Because it is funny

Playing is also a way to relieve the tension of the hunting.
cat playing with a prey 4
PIXIE : I don’t know how to kill ; when I saw that my bird was ready, I gave it to Zorro so that he kills it and eats it. My mom taught me that you should not waste food, and I believe it’s a rule that we have in common with our humans, am I right ?

Does your cat get bored in winter ?

Snow, cold, cold, snow, … We go out less, and there is not much to do : nature and small tiny creatures are in slow motion.
Snow, cold, cold, snow... So boring !
For an inside only cat, the wintry weather doesn’t change his everyday life a lot, but for cats who can go out in the garden as us, it has a big influence : we have fewer things to watch, and fewer preys to hunt. We sleep more to spend time, and Claire pays attention to play more often with us : indeed, we tend to get into mischiefs or to play fight slightly too often to occupy us !
Play with me !
How do your cats react to the wintry slowing down ? Do they tend also a little to be bored, and to show themselves creative to keep busy ?

How to occupy your cat and improve his well-being : which games and activities can you offer to your cat ?

Here is the continuation of what we want to share with you after the training followed by Claire ten days ago (part 1 : how to put food available in a way which increases the cat’s level of activity ?).

Reminder : according to a study of Bonnie Beaver (Feline Behavior, 2003), the approximate time dedicated to various activities by a free cat is the following one : sleeping 9 hours, resting 4-5 hours, bathing 3-4 hours, hunting 4 à 9 hours, moving and feeding 1 hour, other activities (game, marking, elimination) 1 hour. Numerous indoor cats are sub-occupied and spend their days sleeping to pass the time.

Which games and activities can you offer to your cat ?

Learning activities

Contrary to a preconceived idea, cats can learn many things : patience and encouragements will make miracles (and treats also !). Our best example is our friend Summer : in this video, she shows that she knows how to stay, shake hands, high, sit up, and wave her paw to say goodbye.

Games and toys which mime hunting

Toys which make a noise of prey (squeak, little sharp sound, …) are more interesting for us than the silent toys. If they move, it’s still better, because the movement makes us react. The movement given to the toy must be choppy, and go away from the cat, stand still from time to time, as a prey would do it.

But with what toys to play ? Small balls, corks, plushy mice, crumpled paper, … can be thrown or shaken at the end of a string ; a feather toy which moves within reach of paw is irresistible ; a simple string to be pursued entertains us.
Pixie playing with a feather toy
A word on bright points (laser or reflection of watch for example) : first, warning for our eyes ! Then, this little point makes us often totally mad, to the point that we can injure ourselves by jumping everywhere to try to catch it. Finally, this game is extremely frustrating, because we never catch anything. Use it with moderation in a clear space, and don’t forget to give us treats as compensation at the end of the session of game.

No toy is unbreakable, and the risk of ingestion is real : check regularly the state of our toys. Ribbons or strings must be never used unattended, and must be carefully tidied up out of our reach after every play session.

Zorro playing with a string
Claire plays every day with us ; she has decided now to teach us small tricks, like Summer. We’ll tell you more about it when we’ll have learnt a trick !