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How can I get Angel to play?

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 
I want Angel to play with the cat toys, but since she previously came from a neglectful home it's like she doesn't know how to play. Every once in awhile she will play with a string, but otherwise whenever I want her to play she doesn't want to. Also, I thought cats liked all toys but she's scared of the jingly toy balls we have. I tossed one for her to chase and it scared the hell out of her.

Does anyone have any suggestions on what I can do to get her to play more and what kinds of toys to get?
post #2 of 6
Basically go slowly. If the cat is from a neglected home it will take a while to warm her up to "fun". Pretend she is like a child who has been neglected. If you make her feel welcome, and let her know she is loved then things will come. Leave non-threatening toys out for her to play with during the day. I would advoid anything that jingles or makes noises until she has warmed up a bit. Try using plush toys that have catnip in them. Try to find things like toy stuffed mice and see if she likes those or even a classic ball of yarn. Use the toys to get her attention but avoid throwing them near her as she may have had things thrown at her in the past..

Most importantly, just move slow, dont get discouraged and let her investigate and get comfortable with things at her own pace!
post #3 of 6
I agree with FastDak 100%.

Since she likes the string I would also try one of those fishing poles with a feather on the end of the string. Some of these allow you to stick them to flat surfaces via a suction cup. You might try something like this to allow her to play with it on her own while you are not around.

My cats cannot resist those cheap little furry mice that you can buy in bulk. They bite them, toss 'em up in the air, paw them around... They're great and they're cheap.

Also there are these styrofoam balls covered with this material that looks like plastic terry cloth. These are good because, they're not noisy, they're light in weight so when the cat get's a claw stuck in one of the loops and flings it... it really flies! I think they like the unpredictability of these things. My cats destroy these!

And with any toy if it doesn't have catnip in it already, you can get catnip spray, which you can spray on the toys.

I have what I call the cat's toy bin. It's a shallow wooden box where I put their toys after I gather them up. I spray the inside of the toy box with the catnip spray which attracts the cats to the box and therefore the toys. If I could only get my cats to bring their toys back to the toy bin on their own! Kids these days!

It sounds to me like playing maybe something that requires human intervention to start with and that you are doing this already with the string. I suspect with time your cat will come around. Keep in mind... not all cats like all toys. I have some toys that my friends cats loved but my cats could care less about and vice versa. Each of my 6 has a particular toy that they love more than anything so at first variety might be the best bet your cat until you know what her favorite toys are.
post #4 of 6
Since I deal mostly with abused cats, I find none can resist a peacock feather. You might try that, but don't get frustrated if she doesn't play with you. And never leave string unattended near your cat or you might be headed for a very expensive vet bill
post #5 of 6
Thread Starter 
Hissy...do you think the noise of the jinggly toys scared her because she was abused and neglected?

Also, don't cats need to play to exercise? Angel is 10 and I want her to be healthy. She's getting kind of fat.
post #6 of 6
Great advice by all!
I would even further reinforce a few points made-
1) don't throw toys at or near a cat with a suspected abused past. You definitely want the toys to have good things associated with them. I'd also avoid battery operated toys like Panic Mouse, which has pieces tha whip around and again, can make playtime scary.
2) Everyone has mentioned the stuffed mice and I third the motion! Helping your cat self-start her hunting instinct, and hopefully being in a position to then praise her for it can be a key in her behavioral development.

My favorite all time toy is Da Bird, which is the classic feather on a string toy, but the feather swivels so that it makes the sound of flapping wings when it flies around. Yay! Not that you'd make it fly around for your scared one at first. That's the great thing about it. The cat can learn to trust an interactive toy like this slowly, dragging on the ground as someone else alluded to, and eventually moving into more frenetic gestures more resembling prey. The great thing is that you are attached to the other end of that toy, encouraging the whole time and making sure it's always a positive experience.

Last note-
You may want to be careful on the catnip front-just remember that all cats are unique as they respond to catnip, some having very adverse responses. Point being, that instead of having that picture of a zoned out happy cat rolling around with her toy, 10-15% can actually have the opposite response, some becoming more on guard or even borderline aggressive. Just something to watch out for.
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