Pet Owner's World Fall/Winter 2019

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Playing with your cat?

Choose the right toy! By Marci L. Koski, PhD, Feline Behavior Solutions

If you are a cat owner, you know the basics must be maintained—food, water, litterbox. But equally important is attending to cats’ social and physical needs. This should be a priority for you, and for your pet sitter when you travel. Interactive play is a great way to address social and physical needs, but play for cats might be even more important than you realize. The importance of play for cats Cats evolved as both predators and prey over many thousands of years, and it’s only relatively recently that they’ve been brought inside full-time. Indoor cats no longer have to hunt for food or avoid larger predators for survival, and they are given healthy meals and comfortable places to nap in safety. But because of this, cats miss out on a lot


of physical activity that keeps them healthy in both body and mind. Opportunities to perform activities that they evolved to do several times a day—explore, run, hunt, chase, leap, and play—have been greatly reduced for most cats. In most homes, indoor-only cats tend to be under-stimulated and bored. Boredom can lead to stress, and stress can lead to destructive behaviors, depression, and physical health issues. Stress can increase when guardians disappear for travel, which disrupts the daily routine of cats. And on top of