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teaching a cat how to play?

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 
Lilly has been home with us for about a week and a half now and is starting to feel more comfortable in her new home. From what I know about her background, she was a stray rescued from a local park. I do not know if she has ever been a domestic cat before but one thing I know is that she has been nicknamed by us "Lazy Lilly" I have tried getting toys out and playing with her, but she just kinda looks at me like I am crazy. Could this be due to her inexperience with toys? or her age (she is about 3)? or just her personality?

She's a big girl and would probably benefit from some excercise. Is there a way to teach a cat how to interact and want to play with toys. Ebony is still a kitten and plays so willingly, I am hoping to get her new sister to do the same.
post #2 of 8
one thing I've noticed with my cats....out of the 10,547 toys I've purchased for them there are only like 3 they like and will play with, one being a burlap bag with cotton and catnip in it. Just picky as to what trips their trigger I suppose.
post #3 of 8
a laser pointer! no cat can resist it, and most will play forever, chasing it
post #4 of 8
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by RarePuss
a laser pointer! no cat can resist it, and most will play forever, chasing it
Believe it or not I tried that!!! Still no dice.

I have tried: feather wand toys, cat dancer, jingle balls, small fuzzy mice, cat nip, and a laser pointer. *sigh* I guess I'll just have the keep trying.
post #5 of 8
I know it probably sounds like a broken record, but be patient with her. If she was feral for any length of time prior to rescue, she is probably still in survival mode - ten days is not long enough to change these habits. My Bella was in a no-kill for five years and was incredibly timid - it took her two MONTHS to really understand that she could play and be silly. She still doesn't play like a kitten, except when she's wrestling with Mika, but she has come out of her shell. The less you push, the faster Lilly will seek YOU out for affection.
post #6 of 8
I've fostered many cats, and lots of them came from wretched situations and never had time or opportunity to play.

I agree with being patient. One little girl I had took months to learn to play. She was semi-feral, starved and with a litter of kittens. I think the kittens helped her learn to play.

One toy I've found that always works eventually is the type of "Kitty Tease" toy. A rod of any sort with a fuzzy toy on the end of a string usually will tempt them, since a semi feral cat doesn't want you too close at the beginning and this toy keeps you a short distance away.

It's only been 1 1/2 weeks - not really enough time for your cat to be completely relaxed and to trust you. Cats MUST be relaxed and trusting to play!

Right now I have a feral cat who spent her whole life outside, and she has turned into the most playful cat I"ve ever seen! But it took a very long time. She still wont' play with me, but with my other cats only.
post #7 of 8
To answer your question, cats don't really need to be taught how to play -- they just need to feel confident that it is safe. A cat rescued from a bad situation has learned not to play around as a survival mechanism. It takes a lot of trust for the cat to feel comfortable "cutting loose".

Nano rarely played for the first four weeks and still only plays under certain circumstances. She will actually sit there looking around, eyeballing the toy or game, and decide not to play sometimes. Other times, she will glance around for a second and then eagerly jump into a new game.

And as said, cats can be picky about which toys get them excited. Please check out this thread which has a lot of ideas:

post #8 of 8
Some cats do learn more slowly. The newest addition to my boyfriend's household, a black cat we call the Gatita, is just starting to learn how to play with toys. She was rescued as a kitten and was all skin and bones. That was about three years ago now. She loves the fur mice as long as they are thrown down the hall and not into an open space. She is just learning that strings are fun to catch, but she hasn't figured out what to do once she catches them.

Are you playing with Lilly while Ebony is around? That might be making her more nervous. You might try putting Ebony in another room so that Lilly can play without worrying about Ebony butting in or pouncing on her.
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