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How can I play with my cat? Top cat games to try

ginger cat plays with owner and feather toy

Playing games with your cat is essential to maintain their mental and physical health

© Dora Zett - Shutterstock

Playing with your cat not only strengthens your bond, it also offers the mental stimulation they need. Read on for our list of games your cat will love.

By Greta Inglis

Updated on the

Cat games are good for your pet and fun to play. It's a time where you can focus your energy on helping your cat move around, engage in brain games and receive your undivided attention.

This said, it can be hard to know where to start when it comes to choosing the top cat games to try. We've gathered some of our favourites for a selection of interactive cat games, funny cat games and even one that will get your cat outdoors and exploring. 

What games can I play with my cat? 

Playing with your cat should be done in a way that helps them exercise and have fun, all the while keeping them out of harm's way. The majority of the games we look at here are easy to play indoors, so they're suitable if you live with an indoor cat. If your cat is more of the adventurer type, we have one option to get them exploring the big outdoors. 

Cat games should get your cat moving and stretching, using their brain to work things out, and of course having a great time interatcing with you, their favourite person. 

Take a look at our guide on how to play pet cat games

Five interactive cat games to try  

Interactive cat games are great because they are mentally stimulating to your pet, and they awaken the little hunter inside of them!

Chase prey

This is a great option to get your cat playing games, even if they seem reluctant at first. The movement of a toy simulates the movement of prey for our cats, which taps into their pouncing and catch instinct. This would be necessary to succeed as a hunter, but in a home environment just equals fun for your furry friend. You can play this game by moving a toy, ideally on the end of a stick to give you better control, in fast, staccato movements. Your cat will love trying to catch the little toy. Encourage the game with praise and let them grab the toy at different intervals

Catnip play 

Most cats seem to go mad for catnip, so what better way to encourage playtime than to offer this as the reward. Fill a ball or toy with some catnip and watch your cat's reaction. They'll likely spend hours rolling with the ball or toy, scratching it with their paws, and just generally having a great time trying to get the catnip out

Fetch 

Yes, you read that right! Commonly associated with their canine counterparts, cats are actually surprisingly good at -and interested in- a good old fashioned game of fetch. This interactive cat game is the perfect option if you want to engage in play with your pet. 

Start by throwing the toy or ball only a short distance away. Your cat will be intrigued by the movement and will most likely follow behind. Praise and reward any interaction with the toy. If they pick it up, make an even bigger fuss and offer some high value food rewards. Gradually build the distance over time, to get your cat stretching their legs and moving around. This game works well for indoor cats, as they can burn some energy while playing safely inside. 

Food puzzles and treat balls

Whether your pet has four legs or two, we've yet to come across one who doesn't like working out how to get their food. These games provide great mental stimulation, as your cat will have to use their brain to work out how to get the food out of the puzzle or treat ball. 

Research has shown that getting a cat to work for their food is beneficial to overall happiness and wellbeing

Click here for our list of the best DIY interactive cat games out there.

Exploring the outdoors 

This may sound scary if your cat hasn't spent much time outside, but cats love exploring and discovering new smells. This is often overlooked because they're great at entertaining themselves inside, but if you have the option to get them out and about, it may be worth giving this one a go. Your cat will find the change of scene both physically and mentally stimulating, and you'll bring one tired and satisfied pet back home with you. 

If you're considering taking your cat outdoors, we would recommend practising using a cat lead and harness. This will keep your pet safe and away from any danger.

You will need to spend time getting your cat used to wearing a harness or they might feel uncomfortable and stressed at the sudden confinement. Take a look at our guide on training here.

Should I use a laser toy as a cat game? 

Laser toys are often advertised as good games for cats, as they stimulate cardio activity and play. This is true, as your cat will run to follow the light and try to pounce on it. However, the laser can be difficult to control and any light shone directly into your cat's eye could cause damage, burning the retina. 

Equally, the laser is thought to be quite frustrating for cats, as they aren't able to complete their hunting sequence of pouncing on and catching the light, it just simply disappears.

If you do use a laser toy, make sure of the following things: 

  • Use a very low wattage light (maximum output 5 milliwatts)
  • Do not shine it directly in your cat's eyes
  • Clear the space to avoid your cat bumping into anything
Here's a list of the best toys for cats

With so many fun games out there, it may be better to try an alternative to laser toys. Your cat will always be happy with the game if it offers the option of interacting with you and having a good time. As owners it's great to watch the athleticism and enthusiasm your cat will bring to each game. 

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