Cat Behavior, Cat Care, Cat Toys

Conflicting Play Styles: How to Bridge the Gap Between Human and Feline

If you feel like you just don't know how to play with your cat, it could be that your play styles differ. Find out how to bridge the gap here!

Image by Uschi Dugulin via Pixabay under Pixabay License

All right, so you know your cat's personal play style, and you're familiar with your own, but there's a problem... the pair of you don't match up! Not to worry. There are plenty of ways to bridge the gap – from finding the right toys, to making small tweaks to your routine. This article will show you the way so that you can both have a happy, satisfying playtime experience!

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Your Personal Play Style: Enthusiast

You are all about frolicking with your feline. That is absolutely fantastic! But here's the deal... while you might be an energetic player, your cat... well... might not be. And believe me, there's nothing more disappointing than bursting into a room, wand in hand, only to find yourself rebuffed. Cats who might find your vivacious style less than desirable usually fall into the categories of Wrestlers and Problem Solvers. Although these two types like to play, they tend to tire or get bored fairly quickly, and aren't as vigorous in their playtime activities as you. That's all right. There are plenty of things you can do to get things moving.

Wrestlers

Wrestlers tend to stay low to the ground. Their energy levels come in quick bursts, but peter out pretty quickly. If you're the type who likes to trail a feather around the room at a rapid pace, you'll likely be let down when the game comes to an abrupt halt after your kitty has caught his “prey.” To remedy this problem, you might want to slow your pace a bit. Instead of trying to get your furry buddy to run around the room, simply come down on the floor next to him. Pick up toys that are long enough to keep your hands safe, but full and fluffy enough to incite a rousing wrestling match. Just remember, once your little pal snatches the toy away from you, you might have to sit and simply watch for a spell. You can also try a tug-of-war game – just remember to be gentle, and keep your hands out of bounds.

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Problem Solvers

Your cat isn't lazy. Nope... he's mentally active, if not so much physically. And that's all right. Although you two might rest on the opposite ends of the spectrum as far as physicality goes, that doesn't mean you can't find a nice middle ground. Problem Solvers need their brains stimulated in order to get excited about any game, so in order to keep your kitty interested, you'll need to come up with a variety of amusements. As an enthusiast, this shouldn't be a problem for you; in addition to your passion for actually playing games, you like to come up with them. One of the best ways to ensure that you're both having your needs met is to create large puzzles and mazes. The beauty of doing something like this is that you get to unleash your creative side, and your kitty will have both his mind and body moving. Mazes can be made up of anything from strategically-placed perches, to trailing and elaborate compounds made up of corrugated cardboard.

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Your Personal Play Style: Hands Off

Maybe you lead a busy life and just want to conk out when you get home, or perhaps you're just not a very enthusiastic player. That is perfectly all right! If your pal prefers a vigorous play session, though, you're likely to have a very frustrated kitty on your hands. And a frustrated cat can be a destructive cat. If your feline falls under the categories of Hunter, Chaser, or Interactor, then you might need to amp up your own play just a tad. But not to worry! There are plenty of things that you can do to keep your cat busy, without having to overtax your already overly-taxed-self.

Hunters

Hunters draw from their wild ancestors and simply thrive on every aspect of the sport: from the stalk, to the chase, to the “kill.” Their games tend to be extraordinarily active and can seemingly go on for hours. Because you have a busy schedule – or you might just be exhausted from a long day – you may not have that many hours to dedicate to satisfying your kitty's killer instinct. On the upside, though, Hunters don't necessarily need a lot of human intervention when it comes to playtime. Sure, it would be great if you could offer a little bit of time to indulge your feline friend, but if not, you might want to consider investing in some electronic gadgets to keep him busy, even when you're not around. Some of the best options for Hunters allow for the full hunting cycle to be satisfied. That is: stalk, catch, kill, consume.

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Chasers

Although Chasers do require some hands on playtime, you'll be happy to know that after their initial burst of frenetic energy, they fizzle right out. Why? Because Chasers like to chase, but unlike their Hunter counterparts, their vigor is not quite so long-lived, and their commitment to the “hunt” wanes after a short period. Of course, they don't mind lazily batting around a dangling toy – even after their outburst – but their energy level will have significantly decreased. With this play style you're left with two options: you can set up a game with an RC-style toy, or you can take ten or fifteen minutes and drag around a fuzzy feather teaser.... then have yourself a seat and let the game continue in a more leisurely fashion. Whatever works!

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Interactors

Interactors can be a little tricky, as they often have a secondary play style. No matter what their secondary play style is, though, the main feature that influences them all is the need to be involved with you – or anyone in the home they're particularly attached to. With this style of player, you had better be ready to distract them when you're say... paying bills... typing up a report... trying to read. Or... actually, attempting to do just about anything. It might not be a bad idea to see if your darling little Interactor isn't a fetch enthusiast. Believe it or not, some cats are, and carrying around a small handful of shiny, noisy, or otherwise attractive balls in your pocket might not be such a shabby idea. That way, if you're otherwise occupied, you can keep your nosy feline out of your business, yet thoroughly entertained. Otherwise, you can look to his secondary style to see what might work best for him.

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Your Personal Play Style: Happy Medium

You absolutely love playing with your cat, but when life gets a little out of hand, you're more than happy to sit back, relax, and watch your furry little friend play by himself. And there's nothing wrong with that! The only problem you may have is that there will be days when your energy level simply won't match up with your cat's – that is to say, when you're feeling lively, he may not be, and vice versa. But never fear! No matter what sort of day you're having, there are plenty of options to keep both you and your kitty happy.

Hunters

So, on your down days, you and your little Hunter may simply not see eye to eye. He wants to play safari and you... want to sit on the couch. No problem! Believe it or not, there are plenty of choices that will keep your Hunter busy while you still have the option of indulging in a lazy day. If you have a touch of energy, you can always set up a hide-and-seek style game made up of your kitty's favorite toy – especially if it's a noise-maker – and several different hidey holes throughout the house. If that's too much for your current mood, you might do better with an electronic cat toy. That way, you can keep your cozy spot on the couch, but still watch your kitty gleefully terrorize his “prey.”

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Chasers

If you've had an exhausting day, but your excitable little Chaser needs some play time, you might have a problem on your hands. But thankfully, it won't be too big of a problem, as Chasers tend to lose steam fairly quickly. There are plenty of ways that you can help your feline friend power through his energetic spell. For example, a quick run with a fuzzy tail wand might be ample, as might a vigorous game of wool ball fetch. If you're really just dragging, though, an RC toy might be an ideal option. These toys will not only provide that oh-so-satisfying, well... chase... but will also allow you to watch your companion go through his crazy motions, all from the comfort of your favorite chair.

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Wrestlers

So you're feeling pretty peppy today, and you're ripe and ready for a good game with your cat. But your cat would rather roll around with his toy. So what do you do? Get yourself engaged! Although wrestlers are great solo players, you can simply interject yourself into the game, provided you find a toy that is easily harassed by him and absolutely safe for you – or, rather, your hands! Some of the best toys for engaging Wrestlers consist of soft, heavily-stuffed plushies that are slightly elongated. Thinking outside of the box a little also works well with your grappling partner. For example, certain dog toys may be appropriate, as they provide your kitty something to grab and gnaw on, but also allow you some space and freedom to play without injury.

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Problem Solvers

What's the one problem your Problem Solver can't solve (that was a mouthful)? How to keep his hyper human happy when all he wants to do is play with a puzzle! Generally, you and your problem solving feline get on exquisitely – he's neither exceedingly active nor exceedingly lazy. But on days when you're feeling especially vibrant and just want to run around the house with your favorite little friend, you might be a tad... well... overwhelming for him. So what's the solution? One of the best options for your Problem Solver is to create a sort of agility-style maze, one that you can lead him through with his favorite teaser or with the temptation of a delightful treat. This way, you both get your brains and bodies moving in perfect harmony.

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Interactors

The beauty of Interactors is that the best thing in the world to them is spending time with the ones they love. You could do practically anything, and they'd be thrilled to pieces to join you. Interactors often have a secondary play style; however, even if they're big time Wrestlers or hardcore Hunters, they'll be pretty content to play with you in whatever manner you choose on any given day. Which makes life so much easier! To keep both you and your little Interactor happy, make sure to keep a variety of toys on hand, that way you can whip out whatever works in the moment.

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Conclusion

When you and your cat first come home together, neither one of you really knows the other. As time goes by, though, you get more familiar with each other. Unfortunately, during this process, you may find that although you've bonded in many ways, you might not have been able to find a happy middle ground with regards to your play styles. That's perfectly fine. With a little knowledge, patience, and plenty of experimentation, you're certain to find a way to commune over the essential act of play!

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