Bonding Tip of The Week: Prey Play

2 min read

Molly DeVoss

Cat Behavior Solutions

Hi everybody! Molly from Cat Behavior Solutions with your Bonding Tip of the Week! This week’s bonding tip is: prey play with your cat often.

What is prey play? It’s when you simulate a cat’s natural hunting cycles through play. You know those toys that dangle at the end of a stick, with maybe a feather or a toy mouse at the end of it? That’s the prey! And that’s where you want to start.

Why do we prey play? Outside, a cat normally spends six hours a day hunting. These hours consist of the cat staring, stalking, chasing, pouncing, and killing the prey. When we keep them inside, they get a lot of pent-up energy because those six hours of hunting are no longer happening. So, we turn to prey play.

Now, what do you have to do? You have to be the prey—or, at least, the toy does. That means acting like the prey does. Your cat can’t stand it when the toy goes out of sight, so that’s the biggest key: make that prey disappear out of sight so your cat will chase it. Then, when your cat catches it, make the prey seem wounded. Jiggle the toy around a little bit so your cat feels like it’s struggling to get away. Most of all, let your cat win, so they get that “kill bite” in and the all-important serotonin boost in their brain.

Some prey play Don’ts:

  • Never use your fingers, toes, hands or other body parts as the prey. If you do, your cat is going to pounce without understanding that biting hands is not acceptable. This applies especially with kittens, who will grow up thinking that biting hands is fun. When they grow up, those bites can be really serious.
  • Don’t pop the wand toy prey in your cats face. If your cat is not engaging in prey play, work harder at making the toy move and act as prey would. A bird would never fly into your cat’s face, so that’s not simulating a predatory hunting experience.
  • Don’t play keep-away. It is very important that your cat get to catch the prey and deliver the kill bite, in order to complete that hunting sequence.
  • But, that said, don’t make it too easy either–prey are not flaunting themselves in front of your cat, but they are also being evasive and struggling to get away once caught.
  • Don’t wear your cat out. Even though your cat spends six hours a day hunting, cats aren’t built for endurance; they prefer activities with short bursts of energy. Keep the prey play sessions frequent but short.

Engaging in prey play is not only mentally stimulating, but good physical exercise for your cats too. And you don’t have to prey play a lot. Do it twice a day for ten-minute sessions, and it’ll help the two of you bond better.

For more cat behavior tips, visit: CatBehaviorSolutions.org

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Creamy Lickable Treat in a Squeezable Tube

Squeeze this creamy, low-calorie treat right from the tube onto your cat’s tongue and watch your cat lick 'n' lap it all up!

Super Soft Bite-Sized Meaty Treats

Cats love the size, texture and high meat content of these soft and tasty, double-meaty treats!

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High meat content (>70%), small batch production and premium ingredients combine to make these truly irresistible.

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Tender chicken fillet pieces in a thick and creamy stew! Great for older cats!

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