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How Do Cats Play With Humans? Understand Their Actions

I noticed while I played with my cats, my youngest cat played with the other more aggressively. They tumbled and rolled around the floor, the youngest taking his brother with him.

It was clear that the older one was not for it. The older cat was hissing, swatting, and growling at his brother with his tail puffed up.

This made me think about the different ways cats play with humans versus how they play with each other. 

While cats play with each other by running around and hitting each other, playing with humans is another thing. Cat and human play usually involves the use of different toys, hands, adding cat enhancers, and stimulation. 

Click here to read more about more weird cat behaviors when they play with us!

5 Ways cats play with humans

We love our cats and treat them as our furry babies. Playing with our babies is an essential part of bonding with our cats. Playing offers socialization and establishing boundaries with our companions.

Cat toys are a wonderful way to bond with our companions without the risk of physical injury. Our modern-day world offers a variety of toys, such as cat trees, balls, laser pointers, and cat teasers.

#1 Cat trees

My cats adore having a little fort area to climb, hide and scratch. It makes them feel happy to have a space of their own and gives me a spot to play with them in.

Cat trees are usually in multi-cat homes to offer more areas for cats to explore and hide. The first cat tree was made around the 1960s. They offer a combo of good exercise and high climbing places.

The cat trees appeal to a cat’s curiosity and gives them a surface to claw at. Use cat treats to coax your cat into climbing higher up the cat tree.

The cat trees I see actually make me envious. There are many options, some of them big and expensive. 

#2 Cat laser pointer

Cat laser pointers are small metallic objects that project a beam that interests cats. The pointers provide the thrill of tapping into their predatory instincts.

Cat Laser Pointer

It not only provides the cats with something to catch but combines exercise and playtime. When you have your cat just claw at a wall and floor for at least half an hour while you sit on a bed just watching it is a wonderful way to bond.

You get to see your cat’s speed and agility as they jump and run everywhere just to catch a red dot and they get the enjoyment of having their owner spend time with them. 

#3 Cat teasers

Wave a magic wand and happiness appears. Cat teasers are plastic wands with different designs and objects attached to the end.

Teasers can be designed with fleece, feathers, and different, sometimes seasonal, toys attached to them. The teasers provide activity and fun for at least half an hour.

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Cats can practice their skills of precision and stealth while being active and having fun. 

#4 Homemade toys

Sometimes cats do not require expensive toys and can make do with items found around the house. Owners can use different products such as foil which can be rolled into a ball.

The reflective silver from the foil ball catches the cat’s eye as you toss and roll the ball around your home. Most of the foil in my home went to creating different-sized balls for my cat rather than wrapping food.

I learned large balls worked better with my small kitty and my big cat preferred to chase medium-sized ones. 

Another homemade cat toy is a simple toilet paper roll. It’s eco-friendly and another great low-budget cat toy that attracts the playfulness of your cat.

You can roll the brown paper tube across the floor as it is or decorate it to make the object more appealing to your cat. The toilet paper roll can be used in two ways: in its original tube shape, or if unraveled, it can be used as a spiral cat teaser toy you dangle for your cat to play with. 

#5 Hand play

Sometimes owners use their hands to play with their cats. This method does offer a more physical bond with your cat but can also be harmful to the owner’s hand.

Owners can move their hands back and forth or tickle their furry baby’s stomachs; however, they also risk scratches and bite wounds that can lead to infections.

Hand play also can teach your cat it’s okay to do rough play which can increase aggressive behavior toward their owners. While we all love our cats, I do not think we want to have constant hand and foot wounds after we play with our cats.

While there are more decreased wounds when your cat gets a pedicure, it does not really work as well as using interactive toys to play with your furry baby. 


Should I play with my cat?

Owners can play with their cats and remain safe with other methods of playing. Cats can learn the difference between rough play and healthy playtime over time.

Take the time to interact with your cat for at least a half hour each day with the use of toys and enhancers such as cat treats, catnip, and positive reinforcement. It is important to teach different ways of playing with our companions to establish a healthy bond between them and us. 

Benefits of playtime

Great chance for bonding

Cats need to feel involved, too. Playtime with your cats can be the first step to making a lasting bond.

Interacting for at least a half hour can provide trust in one another and a positive relationship. 

Improves mental and physical health

When you play with your cats you are also helping them to improve their mental and physical state. The idea of playing with them helps improve your cat’s overall fitness with reaction times, agility training and cardio.

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This playtime can also boost your cat’s mood within the house as they feel as though someone is there for them. Cats can get lonely too and it’s important to build that bond, so they do not feel like they aren’t. 

Training self-control

When you play with your cat you are also adding the benefit of training them to understand that playing with their owners is different from playing with fellow cats. It is important to start this process as early as you can, so they can avoid unnecessary rough play and injuries to everyone involved.

If your cat has issues with overstimulation during playtime, it is vital to work out a plan to control the overstimulation.

Cons of playtime

Accidental injuries

It is no surprise to cat parents that sometimes playtime can get a little rough. Whether by accident or on purpose playing can lead to injuries of bites and scratch wounds.

Some injuries are minor and can heal properly over time, while others can require stitches or a medical professional to look at them. It may take some effort, but it is worth it to train your cat. 

Occasional disappointment

It is no surprise that sometimes either you or the cat does not want to play. They will give you that look when you roll the ball across the floor that says “Really?” and ignore you.

Same when you know that you should provide some play time for your cat, but you are too tired from work or a hard day. It is okay if occasionally you would rather hang out on the couch instead of rolling a ball. 

Tips to make playtime fun!

Tip #1 Variety

Have different styles of toys available for your cats. It is important to always have something new in your arsenal of toys to keep your cat entertained and interested. Like humans, constantly having the same thing day after day can become boring and eventually cause cats to lose interest. 

Tip #2 Utilize Space

If you have a small amount of space in your apartment or house it is important to try to use the space to your advantage. Add a cat tree to build space upwards to provide an area for your cat to play. Going vertical can be just as great and offer more of an advantage to exercise your cat’s body. 

cats tree

Tip #3 Family time

Try to get your whole family involved in playing with your cat. Teach everyone the value of being involved with their furry friend. This will help create a bond with everyone in there and help people to realize the cat is part of the family. 

Final thoughts

Playtime with your cats can be a fun and enriching experience for everyone involved. Not only will you have fun you will also make sure your cat is getting the physical activity they need. Train the cats to not play rough and use treats, toys, and trees to play safe.