Playtime and Enrichment: Keeping Your Cat Active and Stimulated


Ru Chen

- Updated April 1, 2024

Key Takeaways

  • Playtime helps cats stay healthy and happy
  • Enrichment mitigates stress and boredom
  • Give your cat a wide variety of options
  • Let cats play at their own pace
  • DIY toys and pet insurance help cat owners save money
Playtime and Enrichment: Keeping Your Cat Active and Stimulated

Cats love playtime. Not only does it keep them entertained, but it benefits cats’ mental and physical health. Enrichment activities keep cats’ minds sharp and their bodies fit. To keep your cat active and happy, offer them a wide variety of toys and activities. From mouse toys to DIY projects, there are plenty of fun options to try out.

In this guide, we will go over how to play with your cat, the importance of playtime, and other essentials to keep your cat content and in good shape.


Understanding Your Cat's Play Preferences

Types of feline play behaviors

Many play behaviors for cats mimic natural hunting patterns.

Stalking: Stalking is a common cat behavior that involves crouching low and moving stealthily. Cats are happy to engage in mock stalking as they creep up on toys.

Chasing: Cats like to chase moving objects, such as toys dragged along the floor. Toy mice for cats are a classic option. Your cat might want to try out squeaking or rattling mouse toys.

Pouncing: Some cats love to pounce, especially on string toys. Laser cat toys can also be fun, but be sure to use a low-wattage light so you don’t hurt your cat’s eyes.

Swatting: Many cats enjoy swatting at their targets when playing. Interactive cat toys often encourage cats to swat at them.

Observing and understanding cat behavior

Cats have natural instincts that drive them to stalk and hunt prey. Kittens and cats play and stay fit by engaging in healthy playtime behaviors. Feline play behavior mimics natural hunting behavior, which is beneficial for them to express in a safe environment.

Many cats also enjoy socializing with people and other pets by playing with them. Without enough interactions, a cat can feel neglected and lonely. However, it’s also essential to not force interactions that stress your cat out. If your cat appears annoyed or distressed by a toy, it might be helpful to take a step back and give them some space so they can recover without feeling pressured.

Familiarize yourself with cat body language cues to gain insight into whether your cat enjoys certain toys and activities. Here are common cues you should know:

  • Wagging tail: Anger and frustration
  • Ears angled back/flattened: Scared and hostile
  • Slow blink/soft eyes: Happy and affectionate
  • Purring: Content
  • Bristling: Fear or irritation

How to tailor your cat’s playtime activities

Observing your cat’s reactions and understanding their personality can help you tailor playtime to their preferences. As you build a playtime routine for your cat, try gradually introducing different options. Go at your cat’s pace and don’t force them to play with a toy or engage in an activity that stresses them out or bores them.

If your cat doesn’t engage with a new toy, give them time. The toy may grow on your cat once they get used to it or realize it isn’t a threat.


Interactive Toys and Games

Cat toys and games are designed to stimulate the minds of cats and keep them entertained. Here are some popular and well-loved cat toys out there that your cat might enjoy.

Feather wands

Cats are naturally attracted to feathers due to their bird-hunting instincts. Because of this, they are eager to chase and play with feather toys.

Laser pointers

Laser pointers are generally fine to use with cats, but they can cause frustration if your cat figures out they cannot truly catch the red dot. Keep laser play sessions short so they don’t bore or annoy your cat.

Puzzle feeders

A treat-dispensing puzzle feeder lets cats enjoy playtime and receive a treat as a reward. If your cat struggles with feelings of stress and anxiety, playing with puzzle feeders could serve as a good destressing activity.

Scratcher toys

These toys double as scratching outlets for cats. Scratcher toys can sustain scratching from cats while offering interactive playtime. Common scratcher toys include scratcher tracks and scratching boards with catnip.

Miscellaneous toys

Some cats love to play with crinkly paper or are curious about other intriguing items. It is entirely possible that your cat finds amusement in not the toys you purchase them, but the random objects lying around your house – classic cat behavior. It’s helpful to observe what your cat likes and how to redirect their attention to suitable toys.

How to select and introduce interactive toys to cats

Choose the toys that interest your cat the most. Different cats may enjoy different types of playtime and toys. Here are steps to take when introducing a new toy to your cat.

    1. Give them the toy to inspect by themselves
    1. Let them play at their own pace
    1. Don’t crowd your cat as they play with the new toy
    1. Ensure the play area is clean
    1. Reward your cat with a treat after initial introduction (even if they didn’t play with the toy much)
    1. Give the toy to them again in a future play session

When playing with your cat, it’s also a good idea to create a rotation of toys and puzzles to keep it fresh. Repetitive play can start to get boring for cats, causing them to lose interest in playtime.

DIY Enrichment Activities

Do-It-Yourself (DIY) activities and toys can be fun, cost-effective ways to entertain your cat. Here are some fun DIY ideas to try out at home with your cat.

Cardboard boxes: While cardboard seems mundane to us, it can open up a world of adventure for curious cats. Use cardboard boxes to create delightful adventures for your cat. Turn boxes into hiding spots and tunnels. Add splashes of color and dangling toys to sections of cardboard boxes for extra appeal to your cat.

Paper: Cats often like to crumple up paper bags and play with them. Chasing and swatting at paper balls can be an enriching activity for cats. When you interact with your cat, try incorporating paper balls and bags into playtime.

Toilet paper rolls: These TP rolls can be great for creating versatile toys for cats. Repurpose your rolls by turning them into treat dispensers, cat toss toys, cat hunting toys, and other DIY cat toys.


Environmental Enrichment

Playtime toys and activities aren’t the only way to enrich your cat’s life. Adding special features to your home can help promote healthy feline behavior and enhance their living space.

Hiding spots

Cats feel more comfortable when they have hiding spots they can retreat to whenever they want. Give your cat cozy and accessible hiding spots to improve their comfort.

Vertical space

Cats enjoy having vertical spaces to explore and love to perch on something high to overlook their surroundings. They naturally like to seek high places, like in cupboards or above the fridge.

Cat perches and towers give cats more fun and comfortable options to climb.

Scratching outlets

Scratching is a natural cat behavior that soothes them. You can redirect your cat’s attention from furniture and valuables by giving them suitable scratching options.


A cat perch can provide both comfort and amusement for your cat. You can purchase different types of perches for cats since they come in a wide variety of materials and shapes. You can choose a snug cove to double as a hiding spot or a fluffy hammock that serves as a soothing retreat.

Guide for creating a stimulating indoor environment for cats

Ideally, you want an environment that promotes play, relaxation, and exploration. When making environmental modifications for your cat, here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Include accessible hiding spots
  • Provide various scratching outlets and play areas
  • Keep your cat’s living space clean and hygienic
  • Avoid putting toxic substances in your cat’s reach

Pet Insurance for Cats

Pet insurance provides financial protection to cat owners, helping them pay for veterinary expenses. Insurance can provide useful financial reimbursements for eligible claims, such as costs of treatment and medications for cats.

Pet owners should have adequate insurance since cat medical care bills can cost hundreds if not thousands of dollars upfront. These costly expenses can make it challenging for pet owners to give their beloved companions the medical attention that they need.

Types of cat insurance

Accident-only coverage: This basic pet insurance policy type only covers treatment and diagnostic exams related to accidents. If you want the cheapest pet insurance for your cat, accident-only coverage is a good idea.

Accident and illness coverage: This is comprehensive coverage that covers accident expenses as well as illnesses. This includes treatment costs, diagnostic exams, and other veterinary expenses related to cat health conditions. Common claims include cat cancer, diabetes, arthritis, and thyroid disorders.

Wellness plan: Usually sold as an add-on, wellness plans offer preventive care coverage for pets. This includes claims that are often excluded by standard pet insurance policies.

Alternative care: If you plan on trying alternative therapies for your cat, consider getting specific insurance riders for them. Popular options include add-ons for acupuncture, herbal medicine, chiropractic surgery, and hydrotherapy.

How to find the best pet insurance

Pet insurance should cover the vet expenses most relevant to your cat’s needs, health condition, and breed. Compare pet insurance providers to find the best option for your cat. When searching for the optimal cat insurance, consider the following factors:

Premium: This is how much your insurance policy will cost every billing cycle. A higher premium usually gives more coverage but it will cost more monthly. The average cost of cat insurance is $32 a month.

Deductible: You need to reach your deductible amount when paying for vet expenses before your pet insurance company will cover the rest. A higher deductible will come with a lower insurance premium.

Coverage type: Choose the best pet insurance type that suits your financial needs. It is recommended for pet owners to at least have accident-only pet insurance to cover urgent accident-related bills.

Add-ons: Consider what add-ons will be beneficial for your cat. The most versatile and useful pet insurance add-on is the wellness plan that provides preventive care coverage. Wellness plans typically cover the costs of vaccinations, spay/neuter, microchipping, dental cleanings, and routine health exams.

Here are some of the best pet insurance providers in today’s market. Each insurer offers their own policies and special benefits to pet owners.

Incorporating Playtime into Daily Routine

Cats benefit from routine, interactive playtime. It keeps them happy, fit, and mentally healthy. To incorporate playtime into your cat’s daily routine, make sure to set aside dedicated play sessions at the same time every day.

In general, you should have at least 2 short sessions of play around 15 minutes before mealtime every day. Some cat breeds and kittens have more energy, which means they need to play more frequently or for longer periods. Observe your cat to see what playtime routine and schedule best suits them so you can make adjustments as needed. Your cat may meow to get your attention when they want to spend more time playing together.

Independent play

It’s a good idea to provide your cat with access to safe toys that they can play with by themselves. Solo cat play options are particularly important for cats who are typically left alone during the day, such as when their owners go to work. Good toys include paper balls, interactive puzzles, and chase toys.


Playtime is essential to the physical and mental health of cats, helping them stay fit. Schedule routine, interactive play sessions with your cat to ensure they’re in tip-top shape. Create a stimulating environment with a good variety of toys and activities for your cat to enjoy. The main benefits of playtime include:

  • Keeping muscles strong
  • Maintaining healthy body weight
  • Ensuring your cat stays active
  • Encouraging your cat to express their instincts
  • Alleviating boredom

Enrichment activities and toys can help your cat live their best lives. Observe your cat’s reactions to different toys to adapt playtime to their individual preferences. Finally, don’t forget to have fun as you play with your beloved feline companion!

About The Author

Ru Chen

Ru Chen

Content Writer

Ru Chen is a content writer with several years of experience in creating engaging and well-researched articles. She mostly writes about insurance, business, digital marketing, and law. In her free time, she can be found watching horror movies and playing board games with her partner in Brooklyn.

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