The benefits of playing with your senior cat will make him feel like a kitten again!
He may not be a kitten anymore, but your senior cat still needs playtime. It’s not just because cats love to play at any age; it’s also because cats tend to slow down in their older years, which can cause weight and joint issues. Sure, he’s not pouncing on anything that moves, and he prefers to take a cat nap rather than tease the dog, but don’t let his calm demeanor fool you. Your kitty will still benefit from a bit of gentle playtime to stay in shape and mentally sharp. And, in addition to being a great bonding experience for you and your cat, playtime is also the perfect way to prevent stress and boredom. That way, you’ll be sure that your senior will remain well-adjusted and content.
Here are a few tips on the best ways to play with your senior cat.
A variety of health issues can affect your senior cat’s ability to play. If your cat has heart problems, strenuous play sessions are out of the question. However, if your cat has diabetes, he will get plenty of benefits from a regular daily playtime schedule that doesn’t really change. Depending upon your cat’s health limitations that may be the result of illness, you can create customized play sessions to suit his needs.
Chronic pain conditions, such as arthritis, are also common in seniors. Check with your vet—he’ll be able to not only provide guidance in terms of how you should play with your cat, but he will also be able to provide the right therapies to make your cat as pain-free as possible. While you’re there, ask him what types of toys and play are best for your particular feline, as well as how long and how often you should play with your pet.
The Right Toys
Finding the appropriate toys is just as important to your senior cat’s play time. If you’re not sure, you can ask your vet, but you’d be surprised just how many toys on the market are geared toward older pets.
Sometimes, your senior cat enjoys the same toys that he liked when he was younger. These can range from wands with feathers, to catnip toys, and everything in between. Avoid playing with toys that cause your senior cat to twist and jump too much. Again, how you play with your cat will ultimately depend upon your pet’s current state of health. But be aware that an older feline may be lured into playing acrobatically, yet regret doing so later, especially if he isn’t already used to this level of activity.
Lower-intensity play sessions can be enjoyed with simple toys that cats love, such as cardboard boxes and paper bags, cat trees with plenty of shelves for easy climbing, and food puzzle toys that dispense treats.
Potentially Dangerous Toys
Even senior cats need supervising. Once play time is over, put potentially dangerous toys away in a safe place. These include toys with strings and wires, yarn, rubber bands, ribbons, and similar items—these can be choking hazards and can cause obstructions if swallowed. Also avoid any toys that have loose parts that can be chewed off and swallowed.
Make it a Routine
Have fun with it and schedule it into your day. He may not be as frisky and he may not want to move from his comfy resting place, but he’ll enjoy a healthy, safe level of activity every day. Just like people, staying active may help senior cats feel younger.
Amy Tokic is the Editor of Petguide.com, the flagship site to over 70 different pet communities, which offers pet parents a one-stop-info-shop for all things dog and cat related. Amy's been with PetGuide since the beginning, guided by the wisdom of her Shih Tzu mix and furry roommate, Oscar. Together, this pet power couple has their paw on the pulse of the pet industry, sniffing out trends, advice, news, tasty treat recipes and other tail-wagging stories.