The Three Types of Cat Play

Photo of Karen Dell

Karen Dell

Senior Editor • Backyard Cat Enclosures

12 July 2018

When it comes to having a darn good time, cats really know how to pawty. There are many reasons why cats display play behaviours, including instincts, a need for exercise and to establish bonds, but how do cats play? Cat play behaviours can essentially be categorised into one of three forms.

cat playing with puppy dog fur sibling

Social cat play

Social cat play creates bonds between your cat and other animals such as other cats, dogs and the most dangerous and weird looking animal of them all, the human being. Homes with multiple cats will notice their fur-siblings interacting and bonding through play fighting and side-by-side object and active play. Not sure if your cat siblings are playing nice? Have a peek at our guide to telling the difference between cat play and cat fighting here.   

Object cat play

Object cat play is an adorable mock hunting session best facilitated by a favourite cat toy, something sparkly or a rogue loo roll. Cats will stalk, pounce on, bat and circle their toy prey, mimicking the behaviours of their wild ancestors. While our precious fur babies will never have to hunt down their own dinner, it’s good to see they keep up to date with their adorable assassin skills.

cat leaping out of box

Active cat play

Active cat play is when your cat or cats simply MUST run from room to room, scooting over any obstacles and ramming down any small humans or fur-siblings in their path. This sprint for the sunroom helps your kitty work up an appetite, honing their coordination, agility and flexibility skills.

Never ones to play by the rules, cats will incorporate multiple forms of play behaviours into any good play session. So don’t be surprised if your kitty play fights their sibling, before batting a cat toy under the sofa and then promptly takes off down the hallway. It’s all part of the fun of keeping the company of felines.

Ready to get involved in their playtime? Have a peek at our top 5 ways to play with your cat here. Regular playtime is just one way to keep your kitty in shape. Learn more about giving your cat the exercise it needs here.


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