How to Play with Your Cat

Spending time playing with your cat helps the two of you bond while also keeping her happy. Here are some tips and tricks to keep play time positive and safe.

Tips for Safe and Successful Play

  • Provide interactive play at least twice a day, aiming for a play session in the morning and at night. You can also have playtime right before meals, to imitate her instinctual desire to hunt prey. This will provide her with mental stimulation and satisfy her prey drive.
  • Stick to a regular playtime routine, so that your cat has an outlet for play and exercise. You can also leave toys out for her to play with by herself in between scheduled playtime. 
  • Vary the types of toys you give her to prevent boredom. When not using interactive toys, store them out of reach, in a closet or cupboard, to keep the toys exciting when you give them to her.
  • Consider adopting a second cat of a similar age, energy level, and personality so that she has a playmate!

Preventing Play Aggression

  • If your cat is attempting to play with human hands, fingers and feet, redirect her to appropriate toys. Use toys on sticks and strings or fetch toys to keep her away from your hands and feet.
  • If she continues to play with hands or attacks, stop all play and calmly remove yourself from her.


  • Learn to recognize the early signs of play aggression, such as dilated pupils, hiding around corners, and crouching to pounce. If you notice these and other signals, immediately redirect your cat to appropriate toys.

Keep in Mind

  • Hands are NEVER toys. Never encourage rough play with your cat, wrestle with her, or move your hands and feet so that she can chase them and pounce. This will make her think that this behavior is okay. Instead, always provide cat toys during playtime.
  • Never teach your cat that body parts are toys for her to hunt, bite, or scratch. When you are playing with her, do not jerk away or use high pitched sounds. This is how prey would respond to an attack and can trigger aggression from her. 
  • Never punish your cat. If she is playing, biting, or scratching your hands or feet, never use physical punishment. At best, this teaches your cat to fear you, and at worst, she could be seriously injured. Your cat is incapable of associating her actions with your punishment.

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