All animals play. As cat guardians, we play with our kitties but we also love to sit back and watch them play with each other or on their own. Cats often have other species they play with too, such as dogs, squirrels, rabbits, crows, or foxes. Ethologist Robert Hinde defines play as, “a general term for activities which seem to the observer to make no immediate contribution to survival.”
Play does serve important functions however. It helps us form social bonds, assists in learning, and alleviates stress. Physical play can help us and our companion animals engage in movement, balance, and coordination. Remember our kitty yoga class? Many animals love doing yoga, Tai Chi, or simply stretching with people! For people working from home on a computer right now, inviting your cat to practice with you might be just the motivation you need to stick with a daily routine. Walking you cat on a leash is great fun and stimulation; just be sure to acclimate your kitty to a harness or walking jacket slowly and gradually. Not all cats take to leash walking. He needs to feel safe and that means you need to stay vigilant for dogs, loud noises, or people who may scare him. A cat stroller might be a better option for some cats. You may find you don’t personally get much exercise, but remember: this is your kitty’s special time.
Just as we cultivate hobbies, watch movies, or color in adult color books to relax and get “out of our heads,” our kitties need activities that serve these functions too. Our companion animals are often very empathic and develop stress conditions just like humans. Playing with your cats is never wasting time. We all need to play and have fun to be healthy and happy.