Dear Ms. Kitty,
I recently adopted a cat that needed a new home. I've tried to play with him, but the only "toys" he's interested in are my hair ties and I worry that he will choke on them. However, I can't seem to persuade him to play with anything else. Can you recommend any toys he might like that would be less dangerous? - Troubled by Toys
There is a mysterious allure to hair bands that only felines understand! Luckily for you, there are numerous other play things you can try. Play therapy gives indoor cats a release from boredom and helps to keep them physically healthy. Plus, it's a fun way to strengthen the bond with your cats.
Cats are typically prey-driven during play time so the first toy I would recommend is a wand. The most popular are Cat Catcher (with a mouse on the end), Da Bird (with a feather on the end) and Cat Dancer (a springy wire with a cardboard bug on the end). These toys should bring out his hunting instincts and get him moving. If this is a type of toy he seems to prefer, there is also one called Undercover Mouse that's battery-operated. You might also test a ball toy with a bell and/or catnip inside or a crinkle ball.
One of my cats gets excited when he hears a plain piece of paper being crumpled up. And sometimes cats will pick up dog mannerisms and learn to play fetch with a crinkle ball, which is a fun interactive type of game. There are also laser-light toys, but be careful not to point the laser at his face and let him "catch" the red dot now and then to prevent frustration. Believe it or not, pipe cleaners also are a huge hit! Just remember to crimp the ends by rolling them up a bit so the wire doesn't poke him in the eyes or ears.
A few other pointers about playtime to keep in mind: Figure out if your cat prefers morning or evening play sessions, keep sessions to around 10 minutes, give him a protein treat at the end of playtime and be sure to put away/hide wand toys when finished playing.
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