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Felinexpress.com Home > Senior Cats > Seniors Need Toys too!

Seniors Need Toys too!

Tiger, a 17-year-old senior cat

In the first few years of his life, Simon’s tabby cat, Tiger was active, engaging and getting into mischief on a daily basis. Shredded toilet paper rolls were frequently found strewn around the house. Tiger, always the clown would jump high into the air in an effort to reach the paper towel dispenser that looked more fun than the toilet paper.

Over the years as age overtook him, Tiger seemed to slow down and became laid-back and uninterested in playing games. His favorite pastime now consisted of lying on the carpet, catching a few rays from the morning sun. Simon’s life is hectic. He works over forty hours a week. He worries about Tiger. Is he getting enough food? Simon resorted to free-feeding him and feeding him tasty table scraps, resulting in Tiger becoming markedly overweight.

One afternoon, Simon received a visitor; one of his newest neighbors dropped by his home. He had watched her move in on a Sunday afternoon marveling at how many cat carriers were being transported into her home. He lost count after five! Inviting her to sit down on the couch, he asked if she would like some tea.  Returning with a tray, Simon was surprised to see Tiger at the women’s feet. The woman, who introduced herself as Sharon, ignored the cat but started moving her sneakered feet slowly. Tiger reached out to bat at the shoelaces moving tantalizingly just within his reach. Amazed, Simon watched Tiger begin to actively play with the shoelaces. “How about that!” Simon exclaimed. “I haven’t seen him play like that for a long time!”

“Does he have toys?” Sharon asked quietly not wishing to disturb the moment. “No, not really, not anymore.” Simon answered, “He used to, but I guess they got lost or thrown away. Now, all he wants to do is sleep. He is getting old.”

Sharon smiled. “May I show you something? Would you like to see what you might have on hand that would make good cat toys for Tiger? Seniors need toys too!”

As they walked around the house, Sharon would periodically pick items up. Returning to the living room, both her hands were full of goodies. Simon wondered how these plain items would make good toys for Tiger. Sharon went on to show Simon all sorts of ways he could make fun toys for Tiger out of these ordinary household items, and he was amazed. As Sharon showed them to Tiger, he pounced and chased these new toys. Simon had not seen him that active in years!

After a while of playing with Tiger, it was time for Sharon to leave. Simon thanked her for bringing pleasure and activity back into Tiger’s life and promised to play with him more with his new toys.

So what were these ordinary household items that Sharon found for Tiger to play with?

  • An empty toilet paper roll: Fill it with catnip and stuff plain white paper into the ends. Your cat will have fun batting at it and pulling the paper out to get to the catnip.
  • A spool of thread: Snip away all the thread and discard in the trash or use an already empty spool. Roll this along the floor for your cat to chase.
  • Feathers: Pluck a few feathers from a duster. Tie them together on the end of a piece of string. Always supervise your cat when he is playing with anything that has string on it. Wiggle the feathers along the floor for your cat to chase.
  • Tightly wadded up pieces of plain white paper. Gently throw these near your cat for him to bat at.
  • Stuff an old sock with catnip and then another old sock. Tie a knot in one end to keep the catnip and other socks inside. Your cat will love biting on the sock and rabbit-kicking (kicking with his hind legs).
  • Cardboard boxes big enough for your cat to get inside. Cut out holes of different sizes and toss in some of the other toys. Your cat can bat at them or reach inside to get at the toys. If your cat gets inside, make little scratching noises on the outside of the cardboard in different places, so he can follow the sounds.
  • A piece of thick rope with a knot tied in each end and slowly pulled along the floor or in and out of the holes in the cardboard boxes.
  • Small plastic, rubber or ping-pong balls rolled along the floor just within reach of your cat’s paws. Make sure these balls are not so small that they can be swallowed.
  • Bubbles: Some cats love trying to catch bubbles that you have blown for them. If you want to, you can even buy catnip bubble solution.
  • Paper bags: Entice your cat into a large paper bag and scratch on the outside for him to follow the sounds and try and capture the ‘prey’.
  • Small soft toys: Move these slowly back and forth and wiggle in front of your cat. If his prey-drive kicks in, he will love rabbit-kicking and biting these.

When you play with a senior cat like Tiger, there are a few things to keep in mind. He needs extra interactive play-time with you to keep his body well and his mind active. When you play with him, roll or toss the toy so that it’s just within reach of his paws. Although he may not be willing to run around like a kitten, he may reach for, bat at and pounce or rabbit-kick his toys.

A few short play sessions a day are better than one long session, which may tire a senior cat out. If your cat starts panting or seems tired, stop the play for a while and perhaps play a little more gently next time. Rotate the toys so that when one set becomes ‘old’ or less interesting, you can introduce another ‘new’ set to keep your cat interested.

So many plain household objects can make safe, enticing cat toys and you and your senior cat will find hours of entertainment and fun playing with them.

Bebe, a 12-year-old senior girl

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