Introducing play

August 2021

When cats live outdoors without human interference, their life is not a fairy tale. It is hard work. They need to hunt for food and not nearly every hunt is successful. Their prey (mainly rodents and birds) is equipped with tools that are as good as survival as the cat’s attributes. And of course cats are prey to other critters as well.

Here in Canadian suburbia it is no exception to see coyotes roam our green belts and parks. There are huge birds of prey looking for food as well, day and night. We have owls, vultures and extremely aggressive black birds. They not only love to hunt for cats, they also really like kibble. So even if there is food put out for wild felines, there is fierce competition. All creatures living amongst people need to develop good smarts when it comes to avoiding traffic accidents, being chased by bored children or getting trapped in one or the other human structures, such as storm drains and deserted houses. So, life’s menu choices are limited to finding food, staying safe and getting a safe place to nap. There is very little energy left for play. It is not essential to survival. The most play you will see in wild creatures is when they have babies or when they are focused on reproduction.

If you want to get close to an animal that is kept indoors, play can be the key to their hearts. If they understand it. When we added the Ensuite to Mitsy’s space, I decided to try and entice her to play with me. I bought a wand toy and, when I found her in a mellow mood, started to try and trigger a reaction. And one day it suddenly worked!

It was quite apparent that motherhood ate up most of her energy. So the first plat happened while she was lying down, sometimes with kittens ‘attached’. Their eyes were open and they were trying to watch, but they were much too young to be able to focus at that time. But Mitsy started to try and grab the toy. It was pure joy for me. After managing to handfeed her some treats, it was only the second voluntary and positive interaction I had with her. It became a daily activity, usually after the big afternoon sleep. And as the kittens got older, they also started to participate and it was joy all over!

Have a look in the Nursery blog post here, that shows some video of the play:

Play video