Cats love to play. They particularly enjoy hunting, chasing and pouncing. It allows them to express their natural predatory behavior. Although there are lots of fancy toys you can purchase for your cat, why not save your money and try something really inexpensive? He may like it just as much.
* If you have aluminum foil in your pantry, tear off a piece and roll it into a little ball. As it rolls across the floor, it reflects the light, and is very attractive to your cat. Similarly, a ping pong ball is very cheap. The fun part of playing with a ping pong ball is rolling it with some backspin - it will initially roll away, then stop and roll back towards you. Your cat won't know where it's going.
* If you have a little flashlight or torch, you can spend hours with your cat encouraging him to chase the beam. He'll pounce on it, only to see it escape from his clutches. A laser beam is also fun but make sure you don't shine it into his eyes.
* A small plastic bottle can be filled with rice and rolled across the floor. The noise catches your cat's attention, and he's quite likely to chase it. Make sure the bottle is small enough for him to push around when he catches it. A small soda bottle is ideal for this.
* Try giving your cat a paper or plastic shopping bag to play with. They may enjoy hiding in it, or they may prefer the noise it makes when they pounce on it. Similarly, they may love wrestling with a piece of crinkly tissue paper.
* We've all seen kittens and cats play with yarn. They love to twist and roll, and get it tangled up around their legs. When your cat is finished with it, the yarn won't be any use for knitting. If you don't mind that, yarn makes a great plaything for cats.
You do need to be careful when it comes to leaving cat toys around. Some toys are safe, such as soda bottles full of rice. A cat isn't likely to harm itself if it breaks. However, if your cat is unsupervised when he plays with yarn or wool, he may swallow some as part of his game. This is very dangerous. Swallowed string and yarn can be very harmful to his intestines and you may end up with a big veterinary bill for surgical removal.
There are many expenses associated with owning a pet. Some, such as veterinary care and worming tablets, are essential. Others are not vital, but they are nice to have around. Toys fall into this category. There are lots of things you can use to play with your cat that won't break the budget and will still be a whole lot of fun.
Article courtesy Dr Rosie Brown BVSc (Hons)
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