Games to Play with Your Cat

Dr. Ragen T.S. McGowan, PhD
By Dr. Ragen T.S. McGowan, PhD
Updated: 5/31/20242-4 minutes
games to play with your cat

As a cat owner, you want your cat to live an enriching and full life. Finding games for your cat to play is a fun way to provide stimulation and strengthen that special bond the two of you share.  

Whether it involves cat food distribution balls, games that inspire their predatory instincts or fun with catnip, there are many great games to play with cats to keep them entertained. 

Cat Games

Chase the Prey 

Cats have natural predatory instincts, which makes it easy to engage them in playtime activities. Something as simple as dragging a string across the ground might be enough to get your cat ready to stalk and pounce. This hunting behavior mimics the way a cat would hunt a small animal or insect in the wild. 

Playing these kinds of games with your cat will not only stimulate them mentally but will also give them physical exercise. As a result, you may help your cat improve their speed and agility. Note that if your cat isn’t interested in chasing after a string, using something like a feather wand will probably do the trick.  

Catnip Bonanza 

Catnip is a plant related to basil and oregano. It has an oil in its stems, leaves and seeds known as nepetalactone. The mere scent of this volatile oil is enough to give cats a euphoric rush that lasts for about ten seconds. In some cases, catnip can cause a cat to become excitable and extremely playful, while other times, it can have a relaxing effect. 

You can find catnip toys and sprays at most pet food stores, but fresh, homegrown catnip might be your best option. Genetics dictate whether a cat will respond to catnip, with about 50 percent of cats feeling the effects. If your cat is one of them, catnip is a great way to stimulate and keep them engaged. The saying “everything in moderation” applies here, as too much catnip could cause an upset stomach. 

Run & Fetch

Although most people associate fetch as a game for dogs, it turns out many cats also love to play fetch. Well, they at least like to chase after and catch a ball you throw (we recommend a ping pong ball). Whether they bring it back to you depends on their mood. 

Ball toys simulate the quick, unexpected movements of prey. Put a bell inside the ball to get your cat’s attention, then roll or toss the ball so they can see and chase it. Some cats respond particularly well when a ball is rolled or thrown into another room or around a corner, as this gives them the opportunity to sneak up on their “prey.” 

Play With Your Food 

If you’re looking for cat enrichment games and activities, there are a lot of options. Puzzle feeders and food distributor balls incorporate cat treats or food into a compartment inside. By rolling or pouncing on the toy, your cat can make it release a few pieces of food at a time.  

When using a puzzle feeder, remember to account for all the food inside the puzzle feeder when allocating your cat’s daily nutrition allowances.  

Go for a Walk

While it seems unorthodox to many people, you can train a cat to wear a harness and walk on a leash, and many enjoy this activity. This is especially true if your cat spends most of its time indoors. When you take your cat for a walk, they can experience the great outdoors while staying safe from cars, other animals and getting lost. It’s also great exercise for you and your cat.  

For more insights into cat behavior, visit our Pet Expertise page to get unique insights from our experts

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