If you find yourself spending more time at home your cats will quickly notice this change and they may start to demand more from you. After all, people are often a cat's favorite toy.
Retro watches the Cat Dancer toy from inside the Cat Ball®
My cats need attention at very predictable times and intervals and they will just not leave me alone until I address their needs. Frequently it's just that they are feeling more awake - they are energetic and need to play. If they were feral this would be the time that they were actively engaged in hunting, so what I can do now is to give them some exercise and play with them.
We would like to offer you some new ideas about what you can do at home to entertain your cats and to help manage the potential for cabin fever.
These are my general rules for playing with cats
- Anything can be a toy
- Kids toys are good toys
- Kids are good at playing with cats
- Things that make noise are good toys
- Things that slide are good toys
- Things that bounce or wiggle are good toys
- Things that move are good cat toys, and if they can move unexpectedly, they're even better
- Things that are satisfying to bite are good toys
- Associate a distinctive sound with your cat's favorite toy
- Incorporate your cat scratchers with play
- Sometimes just sitting and watching is important
Anything Can Be A Cat Toy
You and your cat already know about this one
Yes, you and your cat already know that boxes are great cat toys. Instagram knows it too, just look at #fridaynightboxpawty to see how popular this activity is. Here are some suggestions to get the most out of your cardboard:
- Add packaging paper or tissue paper
- Add catnip and the paper
- Add a HEXBUG Nano® (more on that later)
- Add a HEXBUG under the paper
- Get the cat in the box then activate your laser pointer
- Add the Sheer Fun for Cats toy (more on that later)
- Add boxes to boxes
- Put boxes under tables and furniture
- Move boxes around
These ideas are simple but effective. Adding a layer of paper in the box changes the character of the box, which can renew a cat's interest. Hiding a toy such as the HEXBUG under the paper creates a prey/predator scenario that some cats love; the Sheer Fun For Cats toy creates a similar environment for prey/predator play.
Why is moving the boxes around effective? Cats are keenly aware of their environments and making these changes might seem simple or even ridiculous to you, but cats are likely to explore these changes so they can fully understand their environment.
Kids Toys are Cat Toys - the HEXBUG
Two of my favorite kids toys that can be good with cats (and dogs) are the robotic toys like the HEXBUG and the Sphero robot ball (I use the Sphero mini). I'll focus on the HEXBUG here.
The HEXBUG Nano® is a robotic toy and I've used the HEXBUG nano®, which is a bit larger than a toothbrush head. There is also a larger size made for toddlers, called the HEXBUG nano® junior. The tiny HEXBUG nano® can get lost easily so here are my suggestions for incorporating this neat toy into playtime with your cat (and your other cat, and the dog, and the kids)
Containing Your HEXBUG
These are some things I've used to keep a HEXBUG from getting lost.
- Tissue grass
- Easter Eggs
- Laundry Baskets
- Zipper bags
Obviously you can put a HEXBUG in a box or bathtub so I will explain the less obvious ideas.
Mighty Hunter in the Grass
This game combines a HEXBUG with party supplies or party table decor to create a fun hunting game! In this photo you see how I hid a robotic toy (it's a cute pink thing that looks like a mouse) in a mat of green tissue grass.
Retro plays with a robotic toy hidden in the mat of tissue grass
This is a fun game to play! The little robot will buzz around in the tissue grass. The grass vibrates, the toy makes noise, and your cat's predatory instincts will be activated! Tissue grass, also called fringed tissue or fringed tissue mats, is a party decor supply. You can get it in a fun variety of colors, it isn't expensive, and it's easy to order.
This pink fringed tissue grass was on the Walmart website
I've found this fringed tissue to be durable and cats seem to like it a lot, even if you aren't hiding vibrating robots in it.
Retro chases a HEXBUG hidden in a fringed tissue grass mat
Bug in a Bag
The problems I immediately saw with the HEXBUG were: it escapes, it's hard for cats to bite, it needs a hard surface. I solved those problems by putting one in a heavy duty Ziplock® Space Bag® travel bag, one of those heavier plastic bags that you might use to compress your clothing when you're packing the suitcase. I found the heavier plastic to be more effective than other options and I did not fully seal the bag or make any effort to remove air. The HEXBUG moved well and I I saw that it would now work on a soft surface (like on top of the bed), the cat could bite the bag and move the bag around (and he liked that) and the toy didn't get lost.
In this video you can see that I didn't really seal the bag at all and it's working great:
Retro had a good time chasing his bug in a bag!
Add Track Toys
My cats have the Bergan Turbo Track cat toy and it's a great toy to use with robotic toys because the robots fit right into the channel.
Retro and Tink watch a HEXBUG vibrating in their Bergan Turbo Track cat toy
The Old 'Easter Egg' Trick
- One HEXBUG
- One plastic Easter egg
- A cat
Find your cat. Activate HEXBUG toy. Insert into plastic Easter egg. Give to the cat. Run.
This game is loud and even louder if you put it on a table or hardwood floor. It will get your cat's attention!
Here is demonstration of the HEXBUG inside an Easter egg and...whoops!
Have you tried giving your kitty a little robotic toy yet? What happened? Did you try anything that I haven't? I'd love to hear any good idea that you had, or about any goofy things your cats did.
Do you have a catnip-loving kitty?