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Cat Toys and the Finicky Cat

If you've ever lived with cats, you know that each one has a distinct unique personality. Their individual preferences for food and litter (and their consequent rejection of the wrong kind) are obvious to us, and we respect them. After all, we want our cats to do their business in the litter box, and we'd never think of letting Fluffy starve.

When it comes to playtime, however, cat owners can be quick to give up when toys are ignored, believing that their cat doesn't like to play. This reasoning is not only wrong, but can actually be detrimental to your cat. Every cat loves to play if given the right toy, and playing is vitally important to her physical, emotional, and mental health.

If your cat hasn't been enticed by the smorgasbord of toys you've provided, here are a few things to consider:

Your cat's personality and physique: Whether your cat is timid or outgoing, or large or small, can have an impact on the types of toys she enjoys. A timid or skittish cat, for instance, may avoid a door-hanging cat toy that has been placed in a high-traffic area.

Your cat's senses: Cats have hyper-sensitive senses, so a toy with a bell (or crinkle, chirp, etc.) may be one cat's dream and another cat's nightmare. Experiment with a few types to find which sounds your cat prefers. Your cat may also prefer toys that don't make a sound at all.

Toy placement: Place toys in different areas of your home instead of in one central place. This way, your cat will always have access to fun toys. Splitting up this valuable resource is especially important in a multi-cat household and would replicate what naturally occurs outside - prey (toys) in a multitude of areas. Some cats are not comfortable playing with a toy if another cat is in the room or "hunting ground." In fact, the only reason some cats will not play is because another cat is watching or in the same room. Cats are solitary hunters and creating a play time that falls in line with this wildcat instinct may be the only thing you need to change to entice your cat to finally play!

The key to finding the right toys for your particular cats will require a bit of experimentation (if you buy a few toys that your cat doesn't like, consider donating them to your local animal shelter, where it is sure to be loved). Don't forget that, along with enjoying different types of toys, cats also enjoy different types of play. Incorporate a healthy dose of interactive play (with a wand toy, for instance) in with your cat's daily solo play.


Who is Mieshelle Nagelschneider?

Meet Mieshelle Nagelschneider, ACCBC, a cat behaviorist and author of the science-based cat behavior book, The Cat Whisperer (Random House Publishing w/ co-writer Cameron Powell). Her passion and curiosity about cats, along with her study in animal behavior, has enabled her to help thousands of cat owners solve their cats' behavior issues for over two decades. 

Learn more at The Cat Behavior Clinic, read her rave reviews, and look for her new book!

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