Wake Up, Geezer Cats: It’s Time to Play!
By Pookie and Wolfie, Senior Advisors
You’d probably not toss Frisbees to your great grandpa, or chase grandma around the block, so why would you do that to your old cat? (Okay, the Frisbee is a more of a dog thing, but you get the idea.)
Myth: Old Cats Won’t Play
Don’t expect old cats to play like they used to. Arthritic joints, stiff muscles, poor eyesight and other signs of aging change how a cat is able to play.
Why play with an old cat at all? Geezer cats sleep a lot and need their rest. But just because that lump of fur hasn’t moved for hours doesn’t mean it shouldn’t play. Change how you play with your cat, and you may find regular play keeps your senior cat younger and fitter.
“Regularly engaging your cat in moderate play can promote muscle tone and suppleness, increase blood circulation, and help reduce weight in cats that are too heavy, ” according to Petfinder.com. Plus, play is a mood-booster that helps banish boredom.
Remember: old cats don’t usually initiate play. You need to be the spark that fires up their attention and interest.
Our Senior Advisors Pookie and Wolfie offer these tips for playing with older cats:
2. Use soft, gentle toys. Smaller toys are less intimidating and easier on the paws. Hard toys can be painful on aging teeth and gums. Good toys: soft toys that move in the air (like our High Flyers wand toys).
3. Old cat? Old prey. Jerk the toy like prey, in short bursts, but closer to the cat’s paws. Younger cats will dart across the room, but geezers may not move off the couch. Make small movements with a toy under a blanket, towel or throw rug, as if the prey is peeping out; cats of all ages love this.
4. Let the cat win…sometimes. Cats like a challenge, but one they can occasionally conquer. Near wins are good too.
5. Air-play is OK! It’s fine if just the paws play. Running and jumping is not required. Older cats may just swipe with a paw or two. Or roll on their back and play with their paws in the air. They’re still mentally and physically engaged.
6. Mood-boost before play. Scent up the toy. Catnip makes some cats frisky; and freeze-dried treats, crumbled and rubbed on the toy, can entice a cat’s sense of smell, just as prey would.
7. Know when to stop. Don’t let play turn sour. Your cat will let you know when it’s tired or annoyed, so take a time-out or try again the next day, maybe with a different toy. Keep play new and fun.
Finally, reward your cat after a “prey” capture or when a play period ends. Your affection, praise, and a treat can make your cat feel rewarded. Savor the victory together.