Senior cats may not be as active as they once were, but that does not mean that they do not want to play.
Play is a necessary part of all pet lifestyles and it has important health benefits. All you need to do is better tailor the toys you buy them to their age and their needs, and you will have one happy cat!
In this article, we’ll talk you through the best toys for senior cats and what to keep in mind when you play with your older cat.
Factors to consider when playing with a senior cat
As cats grow older, they naturally lose some of the energy and enthusiasm they had when they were kittens. A senior cat is usually one who is between 11 years and 15 years of age. Such cats may be slower, more lethargic and get tired more quickly. Here are some factors to consider when planning playtime with your cat.
Pre-existing conditions that your cat may have
When choosing what the best toys for your senior cat may be, it’s important to bear in mind any pre-existing health problems they may have. Cats who have weak hearts may not be able to run and jump so much, and it may be dangerous for them to get overexcited. Similarly, you may have to plan different play routines for cats with diabetes.
As your cat grows older, their joints may begin to hurt. Such cats may not be able to take too much strain on their joints. Running quickly or leaping especially may be out of the question.
Senior cats naturally have lower energy levels than kittens. Account for this when choosing toys, as it would not be wise to buy a toy that requires a lot of running and jumping and then have your cat be unable to play with it.
Best toys for senior cats
The good news is that your cat’s preferences for toys do not really change from when they were kittens. All that you have to consider now is how their age might slow them down and what toys must be excluded from their toy treasure chest.
Here are a few toys that are classics and well suited for your senior pet.
The food ball/puzzles
A food ball is essentially a large hollow ball that can be filled with catnip or treats. There is an opening on the ball’s surface. Your cat plays with the ball, twisting it this way and that, to try and get the treats. These toys are challenging for your cat’s mind and are a good way to keep them mentally stimulated.
Your senior cat may not have a lot of energy, and they might not be as good at biting or chasing as they once were. Stuffed toys are the perfect toys for senior cats for several reasons. They are plush and comfortable to play with, which means they will not harm your cat. They can also be easily controlled by your cat – they do not require an excessive amount of chasing or rough play. Try a mouse-shaped toy stuffed with catnip; they are very popular among cats.
Lasers just never get old. No matter how old your cat gets, they are never going to stop wanting to chase that little red dot across the floor; their fascination does not end. If playing with this toy for your senior cat, make sure it is you who is operating the laser as opposed to an automated laser toy. This will allow you to control the speed of how the laser moves, and you can slow down when your cat gets tired. Make sure you shine it right near their paws, so they do not have to run around to catch it. Try not to shine it on the walls. That way, your cat will not have to leap to catch it and will not risk hurting themselves.
Benefits of play and safety
It can be easy to see your senior cat as uninterested in play. You may be tempted to just leave them alone to sleep all day. Senior cats need play, however. It has several benefits:
- It keeps their weight in check, which helps prevent health problems.
- It exercises their minds and keeps them sharp.
- It helps to keep boredom away and reduces stress.
- It also acts as excellent distraction if your cat has aching joints or is generally under the weather.
If your cat seems unenthusiastic about play, keep trying until you find something that catches their interest.
Of course, safety is very important. This is especially true for senior cats, whose health may cause complications. It is always best to check with your vet on what pre-existing health conditions your cat has and that you should keep in mind. See what kind of play your vet would recommend, and choose your toys for senior cats accordingly.
In this article, we have outlined some of the best toys you can buy for your senior cat and what you can do to keep them interested in play. It is important to ensure you have established a routine to begin with, so that they see play as a part of their day. But once your cat gets going, there will be no stopping them—senior or not!
Want to find out more about caring for your senior cat? Read our article on feeding your senior cat, next.