What to do when cats get bored

As a follow up to a previous post about recession proof cat toys, I found this article that gives some great advice for keeping kitty happy without spending money, and how to play with these make at home toys. No matter what your cat likes to do, he'll appreciate the quality time with you.

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pictures_cat_snow.jpegWhether your cat is an indoor cat or goes outside he will probably find that these long winter months can lead to a lot of ho-hum napping and, perhaps, some misbehaving.

Here are some tips to keep Suzy, and Zip, and Lucky happy:

First of all realize that cats (like all of us) pay most attention to something new in their environment. The best toy from yesterday will often be ignored today. They are on the prowl for the latest and greatest new object to attend to.

The trick, therefore, (this works well with kids, too) is to "rotate the stock." Keep a few toys out at all times (preferably in different areas of the house to keep them interesting--try putting a favorite toy in the bathtub) but switch them out every couple of days.

You know your cat better than anyone. When choosing toys (or making them-more on that later) don't try something your cat has never played with. If she doesn't like to chase things don't buy a mechanical mouse.

If she likes to play with your hanging clothes as you carrying them up the stairs then she will probably like "dangly toys."

We all know that cats have different types of play that assist them developmentally. This includes play fighting, hunting, and "flinging" where they pick up an object and throw it up into the air. You may want to try these activities with your cat and determine what they enjoy the most.

Many cats like rituals just like people (remember Mr. Rogers coming in, changing his sweater and shoes...) It may be jumping on its human's back every time he sits at the computer, pulling herself along the under side of a couch or chair, hanging upside down off a favorite step, or rolling on the sidewalk when his humans come home. We once had a very intelligent little female who loved this trick. If we left a glass of water on a table-and were too far away to grab it-she would wait until she got our attention and stare us in the eye as she casually knocked the glass over. These rituals are a great insight as to what cats like to do: pounce, climb, bat, wrestle, etc.

Pictures_of_Birman_breed_of_ cats_kitten.jpgPurchasing toys is great but I think its fun to give your cat a variety of options by putting together home made toys.

• A great flinging toy: take the crinkly wrapper off a package (the heavier is often better), string your cat's favorite toys (the ring around the milk lid, a large button, a large rubber band, etc.) and then tie the string around the middle of the cellophane like a bowtie. With just the slightest touch it jumps and crinkles.Make certain it is all very secure to avoid any choking hazard.

• If your cat loves to climb into boxes or bags this is a great activity when the kids and the cat are bored. Take a nice sized box, pierce one side, hang any toys or objects he enjoys inside, turn it sideways. Cut 2" holes on the sides, hang (on the outside) small objects in the center of the holes. Add-or expose-the rippled, corrugated cardboard for an instant scratching station. This should give lots of hours of play and hiding time. Don't leave it out too long, though. Put it away for more fun in a few weeks.

• For the smart, energetic cat I would recommend a bouncy ball from a toy store. Warrant Eckstein in his book, How to Get Your Cat to Do What You Want, describes his consultation with Lily Tomlin's cat. The cat seemed to have no interest in anything Eckstein could offer. He found a ball in a toy store that bounced very high and in unpredictable arcs. The cat loved it-the unpredictability being something that most cats are wild about!

• You may not realize it, especially in a single cat environment, that your little guy enjoys wrestling. Place a work glove or a hand puppet on your hand and tickle his belly (with, of course, an appropriate growl and argh thrown in.) You may be surprised at his excited and energetic response. This can be a fun time for both of you and can become a ritual.

The key to keeping our furry friends entertained (and decrease unwanted behavior) is to keep things changing. If your cat shows no interest in your new efforts be flexible and try something else. Rotate toys frequently and pay attention to what they already enjoy.

Pat Gilbers, from TwoPennyCat - is a lifetime cat lover as well as being an entrepreneur, non profit specialist (visit PookaFundraising.com for information on raising money), and free lance writer. Please enjoy her new cat site, TwoPennyCat.com for wonderful photos, funny videos, interesting articles, and a unique collection of cat products.

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