The cat (Felis catus) is the only domesticated member of the family “Felidae” and named domestic cat to differentiate it from wild members of the family. Many cats are perfectly happy to sit on a windowsill all day, napping and watching the world go by. Therefore it is generally considered that cats require low maintenance, which is the reason that they have left behind dogs as the most famous pet in America. Unfortunately, as a result of this reputation, many pet owners believe that cats do not require as much attention as dogs do. They are mistaken.
To ensure the good mental and physical health of cats (especially for indoor cats), it is necessary to provide them regular opportunities to play. Even though cats spend most of their time sleeping (up to 16 hours a day), they require stimulation when awake, and the best way to provide this is through play. Cats enjoy being mentally and physically stimulated, as well as spending time playing with their owners.
It is recommended by most vets and studies that a cat requires at least two sessions of interactive play (15 – 20 minutes each) daily. Obviously, the more you play, the better, but if you're short on time, try to meet these minimums. You can increase the daily playtime up to 60 minutes but it must be divided into shorter sessions of 15-20 minutes because cats are naturally active for short intervals.
The amount of time you can spend playing with your cat will be determined by a number of factors, like
Cats, like dogs and people, benefit from regular interactive play and other activities. Some of the common benefits are discussed below.
Obesity is a common issue in domestic cats. In a study, it was found that almost 55-60% of cats in the USA are obese. It is mostly due to lack of activity and overfeeding (as when cats are bored, they tend to eat more). Regular play sessions help to burn calories and reduce weight. It also reduces the chances of overfeeding due to boredom.
Improves Physical Health
Regular interactive playing sessions help improve the overall physical health of your cat. Playing keeps your feline friend active, maintains normal body weight, strengthens and tones muscles. Regular exercise also improves cardiac health and joint mobility.
Improves Immune System
Consistent playing and exercise also improve the immune system of cat's body, and they are less prone to different infections as compared to cats without exercise.
Playing with your cat on a regular basis usually results in your pet becoming more attached to you, thus having a more fulfilling relationship with you. If you don't interact with your cat on a daily basis, they will lose interest in you or simply see you as a food source. This could mean that your cat avoids sitting on your lap or not allowing you to pet it or that it develops other trust issues. Most pet owners leave their feline friends at home when they are at work or outside the house. So scheduling playtime makes your cat feel that you care for them and they feel more comfortable with you.
Improves Mental Health
As your cat ages, her cognitive function may deteriorate, and she may develop feline dementia. According to experts, Food puzzles or simply tossing food for your cat to chase is another way to increase play in your cat's life, which will stimulate your cat mentally. Play, in turn, may help to prevent or slow the progression of cognitive dysfunction. You can also try problem-solving cat games, such as a strategy game or an indoor hunting task.
Cat play not only provides necessary exercises for cats, but it can also help them become more well-behaved. A bored cat will wander around on its own, climbing curtains, scratching sofas, and knocking items off shelves. If you don't spend time with your cat, they will have their own fun and will be curious, so if you're concerned about the appearance of your furniture and home, proper socialization of a cat through play is very important.
Stress and anxiety are just as bad for our feline companions as they are for us. If your four legged friend is stressed (due to any reason), he is more likely to develop many behavioral issues, for example urine spraying, aggressiveness, and obsessive-compulsive disorders. Spending time and playing with your feline friend is one of the most effective ways to relieve his or her stress.
Break from boredom
Cats are naturally inquisitive and require some sort of challenge or entertainment on a daily basis. And if cats don't have any such activity, they will get bored, lethargic, and depressed. While you're away from home, interactive playtime, along with other toys or enjoyment, can help prevent boredom and mischief.
Improves Owner’s Health Too
Are you SURPRISED?
Yes, it’s true.
Recent researches have shown pets improve the physical and mental health of their owners. Playing with your feline friend is entertainment for the owner too, and it reduces mental stress and anxiety. Arranging different items and toys for your cat provides you with some sort of exercise too, and studies have shown that the risk of having a heart attack or stroke was 30-40% less in pet owners (especially dogs and cats).
If you have a cat at home, providing a roof and food is not enough for him. As a responsible cat owner, you must spend some quality time with your feline friend to ensure his or her good physical and mental health.
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