Every kitty has a unique set of likes and dislikes, and that also applies to his particular prey preferences. Knowing your feline's proclivities when it comes to hunting can go a long way in making playtime more enjoyable. In this article, we discuss all of the reasons why it's important to know your cat's prey preferences, and how you can apply that knowledge to playtime. Finally, we recommend some fun options for each type, thus saving you time and money, and your kitty disappointment.
Why You Should Know Your Cat's Prey Preferences
“Why would I want to know that my cat likes to hunt birds?” That's a good question – after all, we like to think of our feline friends as soft little balls of magic and love. The reality is, though, that they are eight pound stalking, hunting, killing machines. At least, if their natural urges are engaged. That said, your second question might be, “Why would I want to engage that urge?” Simple: natural instincts are... well... natural. If you try to tamp them down, you run the risk of creating a sedentary or listless creature. In that case, you may wind up with a cat that is either generally destructive – pent up energy being what it is – or an overweight friend that is more prone to a variety of illnesses.
Furthermore, by being aware of your kitty's hunting style, you'll end up saving yourself a good deal of money, time and frustration. We've all been there: you go to the store and excitedly pick up an armful of goodies, only to find out that your furry little buddy is only interested in the plastic casing. If you stop to consider why that casing is so enticing, you might have a better idea of what your cat actually enjoys in terms of prey – and thus save yourself all of that chagrin in the future.
So how do you find out your cat's prey preferences? There are a few of things you can do. You can, of course, go the route of trying out a variety of different toys and seeing what sticks. This method is slow-going and sometimes money-wasting (unless you decide to donate the ignored playthings), but is fairly effective. You can also simply observe your feline's habits: does he spend a lot of time in windows? Is he a big jumper? Does he like to skitter around while staying low to the ground? If you're still not sure, you can always take the Prey Preference quiz here.
How to Play to Your Cat's Predilections
Prey Preferences: Flying Creatures
If your cat has an affinity for flying critters – think birds, moths, flies – then he's likely an acrobatic feline who likes to flip, stretch, and contort while reaching for his favorite prey. In order to satisfy this style of play, it's important to look for toys that can be made to soar through the air, or that can be hung from perches. It's also a good idea to look into playthings that mimic the look or sound of flying creatures – for example, feather-covered plushies, or toys that chirp or sing when touched. Finally, these kitties tend to be visual, so it might be worth investing in window perches that help stimulate their natural urges.
Prey Preferences: Crawling Creatures
If your cat has a particular taste for hunting down crawling creatures – like spiders, roaches, or lizards – then he will usually keep playtime low to the ground... after all, he needs to keep a close eye on these tiny, relatively sluggish critters. When it comes to playtime for this play style, it's important to remember that although crawling creatures are generally slow-moving, they will occasionally dart... especially when they're just about to be caught. With that in mind, traditional toys with nontraditional materials, like teasers with wire strings, will often work well. You might also want to consider more updated gadgets, like cockroach RC toys.
Prey Preferences: Skittering Creatures
Critters like mice and rats, squirrels and rabbits are right up your kitty's alley if his prey preferences are skittering creatures. He is likely to be a high-speed chaser, as this type of prey tends to run, dodge, and rapidly change direction. They also, whenever possible, hide. All that said, your kitty will probably like toys that are quick and unpredictable, and may also enjoy good puzzles that require him to root around and search for his elusive toy “prey.” For this style, look for gadgets that move at random on tracks, can be controlled by remote or phone application, or have plenty of trapdoors or hidey holes. This style of hunter also tends to be food-driven and would likely appreciate a reward at the end of all of his hard work, so puzzle feeders are another great option.
Whether your feline's prey preferences are up in the air or low to the ground, there's a toy out there to appeal to him. As we said above, it's important to identify what your cat is partial to; however, it's also a good idea to remember that, although he may have a particular bias today, that can change later on, so be sure to continue to observe his patterns. If you do, you'll be able to provide him with a long, happy, thoroughly enriched life!
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