Playing is typical mammal behaviour, especially in meat-eaters. In the case of cats, although feral cats are usually solitary, domestic cats are very interested in and have a need to play.
Young cats use play to learn hunting techniques. It also helps them to fully develop their nervous system and muscles, and to acquire their extraordinary physical coordination through external stimulation.
A cat that interacts, that plays with its siblings and later with its human family will never be shy. But why do adult cats keep on playing?
Humans would like their cats to continue to behave like kittens, to need them, to demand, accept and look for signs of their love. Keeping cats in this juvenile stage forever is achieved by raising them in human environments and making them totally dependent on humans.
This is why adult cats continue to behave like kittens when they play. A cat is not really pursuing, stalking or hunting its prey during play sessions. No, he does not need to do this, since his dish is always full of food. It is just a way for him to have fun, to feel comfortable in his territory and, also, a way of keeping fit.
What is well known is that animals, cats in this instance, play when they are calm, when nothing worries them or requires their attention. Play is associated with their well-being. This explains why a cat that spends a lot of time out of doors where he carries out a large part of his activity will spend less time playing and more time competing with other animals for his territory, for his prey or for his mate.
As cat owners know, their favourite game is chasing moving objects. If there are none available or nobody offers them, cats will look for them... or make them up!
But if a cat is not stimulated to play, if he has nothing to chase, to stalk or to hunt, problems could arise. It frequently happens that cat owners are clawed or bitten by surprise. These aggressive actions are part of playful behaviour that has been incorrectly directed towards the owner. This kind of inappropriate behaviour may be solved by providing more moments of play with your feline friend, with adequate toys and by not allowing the animal to play with its owner’s hands.
Don’t miss our video on the veterinary profession
Information for the public
Watch our videos here
The Veterinary Channel
Colegio Oficial de Veterinarios de Alicante
Mendez Nuñez, 38 · 03002 Alicante
Tel.: 96 521 41 11 · correo electrónico