Four reasons why play is so important for your cat, according to a behaviorist

Woman playing with her cat using a wand toy
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Watching a cat at play is one of life's true spirit-lifting experiences. There's something about the sense of wonder, aliveness, and pure joy that fills their entire being in these moments that makes it impossible not to smile.

Cat play is so important, not just for your feline friend's physical health but for their mental wellbeing too. And yet many cats aren't getting the amount of play time they need to thrive.

Most vets recommend two to three sessions of play each day using the best interactive cat toys, with each session lasting for around 15-20 minutes. 

Wand toys are particularly brilliant as you make the 'prey' come alive through your movements and your cat then gets to tap into their natural hunting instincts —stalking, chasing, pouncing, and capturing. 

According to Maria, an expert cat trainer and behaviorist and founder of Cats Explained, learning how to play with a cat has so many benefits. She shared four of her favorites in a recent Instagram post — keep reading as we reveal what they are!

1. It's good for their physical health: "Play helps cats keep in tip-top body condition, aids in preventing obesity, helps maintain mobility and is an outlet for working off built-up energy," Maria explains. 

2. Interactive playtime builds confidence: "The wand toy helps you build trust and gives the cat the choice of how close to get. And they get that satisfaction when they catch their “prey”.

3. It help strengthen your bond: "Playtime can help your cat make positive associations with your presence. And it’s a perfect activity you can do together," says Maria.

4. Prevents boredom: "Playtime provides stimulation in fun, healthy, rewarding ways. It gives your cat the chance to refine cognitive and physical skills. The key though is for playtime to be done correctly and frequently."

If you're looking for a simple and fun way to give your cats mental and physical health a boost, why not try playing with them?

Not only is it a brilliant way to give their brain and body a good workout, it's also one of the easiest things you can do to deepen the connection the two of you share.

Kathryn Williams
Freelance writer

Kathryn is a freelance writer who has been a member of the PetsRadar family since it launched in 2020. Highly experienced in her field, she's driven by a desire to provide pet parents with accurate, timely, and informative content that enables them to provide their fur friends with everything they need to thrive. Kathryn works closely with vets and trainers to ensure all articles offer the most up-to-date information across a range of pet-related fields, from insights into health and behavior issues to tips on products and training. When she’s not busy crafting the perfect sentence for her features, buying guides and news pieces, she can be found hanging out with her family (which includes one super sassy cat), drinking copious amounts of Jasmine tea and reading all the books.