Remember when you first adopted your cat?
Ahh, the joy.
Chances are they were this adorable kitten that got up to the craziest stuff and played with everything in sight. Or perhaps you adopted an adult cat from the shelter, because you felt that ‘click’ when you went to visit them there.
It was love at first sight.
But eventually, the sun set on your honeymoon together and reality came knocking. Now, that doesn’t mean you need to break up with your cat, but, let’s face it. After all this time, you might just be stuck in a rut. And both of you have – most likely – done your share of ignoring and/or sniping. You could go on living next to each other for the next x- amount of years…or you could work on your relationship.
Isn’t it amazing how eerily similar this is to a typical, traditional relationship? Admittedly, while the general advice of ‘spend time together to re-appreciate who the other is and remember what you shared in the beginning’ is certainly applicable, the concrete applications are thankfully quite different.
So, let’s have a look!
1. Interactive playtime
This is the number one way to strengthen your bond and reduce stress for everyone involved. 15 minutes a day with a wand toy is all that you need to give your brain a break from the worries of the day, and give your kitty their much needed exercise.
Think of it as kitty-meditation.
You can even use it to compete with your kitty in the circle of Life. Trust me, when they master that skill set, they become freakishly fast and down-right psychic in predicting where their prey will be next – the role you get to embody!
2. Hunting games
If your kitty is very food motivated and incredibly resourceful in obtaining said food, you can use that to play ‘hide and seek’ with them. Think of it as an Easter egg hunt, where you hide dry food around the house for them to track it down. Alternatively, you could teach them how to use a food dispensing toy.
They also make amazing puzzle toys for cats whose brain just won’t quit, where they have to navigate a series of obstacles to obtain the treat. It is the perfect way to keep annoyingly smart cats out of your kitchen cabinets and busy elsewhere!
This is also the perfect way to play chess with your kitty.
You can even take it further and match your wit with theirs by coming up with your own series of obstacles for them to navigate.
There is no better way to show you care, than to brush your cat.
Grooming is a universal signal of affection in the animal world, and cats are no exception.
Yet, there are many, many cats who hate brushing. And usually, they have a good reason for that. They either haven’t been introduced to a brush before and are scared of it. Or, more commonly, they’ve been groomed out of necessity (for instance, due to matting), causing them pain and displeasure in the process.
One way to undo the damage is to introduce the brush properly, by letting them sniff it. Then, start petting them first with your hand, then using the brush. Use the brush as an extension of your hand to replace petting – not as a tool to remove mats.
Make it a pleasurable, sensual experience.
You’ll see that if you approach brushing the way you would petting on a regular basis, your cat will start to crave that time together and return the favour with their own brush – their tongue.
And, as a nice bonus perk, the matting problem your kitty has will disappear in time. They won’t even have a chance to form with your new bonding ritual in place.
This is an obvious one, of course. The only thing to keep in mind is that forcing cuddles tends to be counter-productive.
Not all cats are comfortable being held into place. Letting them come to you and building it up from petting to sitting together to eventually snuggling up might be necessary. And some cats may never acquire a taste for it. Some prefer playing together over cuddling up together. Heck, you may just share their preference on this!
That said, your chances of regular cuddles greatly increase if you invest in strengthening your bond using some of the other activities on this list.
Now, if you’re interested in truly investing some quality time in doing something fun together, clicker training allows you to turn fun with your cat into a full-blown hobby. The possibilities are endless. Think about it – you could teach your cat to roll over, high five you, you name it!
It’ll give you a unique insight into who your cat is, what drives them and how they perceive the world, while having a great deal of fun together.
If you thought this was only for dogs, you should definitely check it out – cats are just as trainable!
6. Obstacle course
This is one of the more advanced applications of clicker training, where you teach them all types of challenges to overcome, and then put them together in a sequence – as shown in the video above. It can be an amazing mind and body work-out for both guardian and cat.
Typically, bengals, siamese and other eastern cats very much benefit from these type of exercises as it provides them with both physical and mental stimulation while getting their dose of attention from their loving guardian.
Meanwhile, those that miss having a dog will absolutely appreciate this type of activity.
7. Going for a walk
Or, you know, you could just teach your kitty to go for a walk, using a harness. If you really want to go for full-on dog rivalling.
To start with this exercise, you want to introduce them to the harness. Put it on them gently, after having them sniff it.
Then distract them with treats and toys as they get used to it, for a few minutes. Take it off, and do it again later in the day. Build up the amount of time you leave the harness on, each time you do this exercise, until they are fully comfortable.
Then it’s a matter of leaving a trail of treats to the place you want them to walk up to, to build up the fun factor and their confidence to talk on the leash.
Before you know it, you’ll be ready to go outside!
So which of these activities do you enjoy with your kitty?
And which ones would you love to try out?
Tell us in the comment section below!