Ask the expert..July-Aug 2008
Dr. K. G. Umesh (MVSc, MSc (UK)) is a Postgraduate in Clinical Medicine. He is working for WALTHAM as Regional Associate for South Asia.
Q: My 6-month-old kitten loves to play with string toys and sometimes even chews on the string. It is a cat toy but is this dangerous? What are the safe toys which I can give her to play?
– R Geroge, Coimbatore
Dr. K. G. Umesh : Cat play is an important activity for cats. Toys (particularly hanging or moving), feeding puzzles, making use of resting places at a range of heights and different locations and access to a view of the outdoors – all help stimulate indoor cats. All pet stores carry safe, fun toys that will get your cat moving and help you bond with your pet. Choose toys for your cat that stimulate active, entertaining play, such as weighted balls that roll in unpredictable directions, and rubber chew toys in different shapes and textures. Just make sure any toys you use won’t cause injury from sharp edges or swallowing.
Cats will often play by themselves, swatting at wads of paper, ping-pong balls or catnip toys. A cardboard box can be loads of fun for your cat. Try putting a little fuzzy thing on a string and dangling it in front of your cat. She’ll know it’s not a mouse but she can indulge in fantasies of being a ferocious hunter, looking out for a prey. Some cats like the sound and feel of rustling paper. A large paper bag might keep her amused for a while. Put some toys inside, making it even more fun. Lastly, empty wrapping paper rolls, old tennis balls, fabric stuffed with old nylons can be toys for your cat. Rotate the toys you leave with your cat so that each day she has “new” toys. If possible, provide places for your cat to climb inside. Scratching posts and climbing frames provide opportunities for exercise and stimulation.