Bing pixel Playtime: The Key to Your Cat's Mental and Physical Health

Playtime: The Key to Your Cat’s Mental and Physical Health


Robin A.F. Olson is the author of the award-winning blog, “Covered in Cat Hair”, which chronicles the ups and downs of her life fostering cats. In 2010, Olson turned her love for cats into the non-profit rescue group: Kitten Associates, where her innovative program,  “Kitties for Kids”, designed to bring comfort to the families in Newtown after the 12/14 tragedy, earned her rescue the “Pet of the Year” award from the Connecticut Veterinary Medical Association as well as a Certificate of Recognition from U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal.

Olson is a die-hard advocate for species-appropriate diets for cats and is fascinated by studying their behaviors. Olson lives with an ever-changing number of feline friends in her home in Sandy Hook, CT.



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Caring for a feline goes beyond simply providing shelter and food. Pet parents and their cats share a bond that enriches their lives by filling each day with love and laughter.

While our cats would like to think they are independent, the reality is pet parents play a huge part in deciding the safety, contentment and health of their furry family members.

Our feline counterparts have little or no control over the course of their daily life. They rely on us to pick a healthy and nutritious food. They trust us to give them a suitable living space. They even count on us to give them the attention they need to stay active and entertained.

And playtime is nothing to take for granted!

Far too many cats face daily routines that offer little or no enrichment, excitement or challenges – it’s a “same old, same old” existence. Not only does this affect your cat’s emotional balance, but studies are showing that cats actually suffer from health issues when they’re stressed out and frustrated from having no way to release their pent up, core drive to hunt. After all, your kitty is a born hunter and if they aren’t ridding your barn of mice, odds are, they need an outlet for their desires.

The wonderful thing about setting aside a few sessions of 15 minutes per day of play time is that it not only helps you enhance the bond you have with your cat, but it helps your cat burn off that energy – energy that if not released during play sessions could easily be redirected into inappropriate elimination issues or aggression issues with other pets or humans. Cats can vocalize late at night or sneak-attack your feet while you’re trying to watch TV because they’re so deeply frustrated and bored – and who could blame them?

As President & Founder of Kitten Associates, a home-foster based cat rescue group in Sandy Hook, CT, I work with cats of all ages and it’s important to adjust the type of activity depending on the health and age of your cat. Many of my own eight cats are over the age of 12, but they still enjoy chasing after a toy, albeit a bit slower than our younger cats.

Here are some tricks and suggestions for helping your cat live a healthier life:

Gauge playtime with the age and abilities of your cat. More intense play sessions for younger cats and easy going sessions with older cats. Remember, you’re not only exercising their bodies, you’re engaging their minds, so your cat doesn’t have to race around the room if he or she is older.


Is your cat an “air hunter” or a “ground hunter”? You might be surprised to know that some cats clearly prefer to chase after prey that is running along the ground (like a mouse) and some prefer leaping after birds. There are many great wand toys on the market that simulate birds flying or have bugs or fake mice attached to a long string. These work great to get your cat’s juices flowing.


My cats go insane over long sheets of craft paper. Some shippers use it as packing material so when you buy something for yourself you can give the paper to the cats. I have a 100′ roll of it and rip off huge sections. The cats LOVE the noise of the paper as they walk on it and they can play hide and seek and I can dangle a toy or hide it under the paper and they go crazy trying to find it.


Young adult cats need a lot of intense playtime. If your cat is in good health, play them hard until you see them panting. Then, instead of nipping your hands when he’s sitting next to you on the sofa, your once “nasty” cat may roll belly up and want pets.


NEVER EVER use your HAND as a TOY. I tell my adopters, “Hands are for petting, toys are for playing.” It’s really cute when a kitten nips at your fingers during playtime, but when they weigh twenty pounds, it’s not so endearing. Better to start them off right and never give them a reason to be confused (and it saves on bandages for you).

I urge you to stop what you’re doing and go play with your cat. Pay attention to what they respond to if one toy doesn’t drive them wild. Try as many toys as it takes. Change the pace of play or how you play. You’ll find one or more that they respond to. It doesn’t have to be expensive, either. A sock filled with catnip or a paper bag could be the beginning of a wonderful adventure for your cat.
Best regards,

The views and opinions expressed in this blog post are solely those of our guest blogger and do not represent the position or opinion of
World’s Best Cat Litter™.