Guest contributor: KT Cat Paws
There are subtle Zen lessons we can learn about play time with a cat. Interactive playtime can bring a new appreciation for your cat, plus it is a great way to knit the family together in a way that is enjoyable and healthy for everyone. Playtime can also teach you about yourself, all while finding a tad bit of Zen.
Why cats need interactive play
Cats can play alone but they also like to interact with us and their littermates. Interactive play is vital to kittens and indoor cats. They play with us; one-on-one. We are their only form of interaction so we must provide the additional stimulation they need. We have a big shoe (paw) to fill as the home environment is taking the place of the big outdoors.
Interactive play is important and simple to understand. It is all about us creating a playtime environment that stimulates their natural instinct to hunt. Cats are stalkers; they like to wait, watch, and pounce on their prey, or jump to catch their prey mid-flight. They key is finding play that works with their individuality, keeping in mind their hunter style and instincts.
Besides being fun, cat play helps the cat in various ways.
- Keeps the cat healthy and fit.
- Helps a kitten or young cat develop properly.
- Reduce excess energy in excited cats and helps nervous cats release anxiety.
- Increase mental stimulation and prevents boredom.
- Drives their natural hunting instinct. This increases satisfaction plus confidence in submissive cats and reduce aggressive behavior in dominant cats
Cats need play consistently at least 15 minutes a day or at least until the cat says so. Twice a day is best. Play brings mental and physical challenges that the cat needs. One way to keep the cat from getting bored is to keep their toys put away until play-time, and occasionally brings out different toys to change things up.
Playtime develops the cats hunting skills. Make sure you mimic the way the prey would move, keeping in mind that most prey get caught, escape, wait and move again. In the wild, once a prey is captures, most cats will eat it, or bring it home to you as a gift! So, when play-time dwindles down, let them catch the toy, then give them a treat afterwards to mimic eating the kill. This treat is the reward for the proud hunter.
The 5 Zen lessons I learned from playtime with my cat
I have found that cat play is just as important for us as it is for our cat. Most of us don’t play properly; we tend to get side-tracked. We play absent-mindedly while having our focus on other things at the same time. I know this because the cats tell me when they paw for my attention. We need to be present and in the moment with play time. Being mindful can remind us what it was like to be young and kitten like; seeing things with a fresh new insight.
- Playing helps increase imagination and creativity. It quiets the busy mind, relaxing us so we can focus in the now. In being present, we can find a cat-like curiosity which expands our senses.
- Playing helps with patience, especially if you’re playing with others. It teaches us cooperation instead of competition. Play teaches us to be sociable as we learn to play nice in the cat box with the other cats. It helps us release control so we can become more open minded.
- Playing IS a big part of a healthy life. It lowers blood pressure, increases endorphins and decreases stress. It is healthy to play every day. When we laugh and have fun, we see with cat-eye clarity the small precious moments that are created on a day to day basis.
- Playing allows us to appreciate our cats. It increasing bonding, while bringing gentle wisdom that is specific to us. Overtime, these cat connections and memories can put lasting paw print on our hearts.
- Playing teaches us balance, so add catnip and everyone can have fun! Catnip is a stimulant to cats if it is used occasionally and in small amounts. If we don’t balance the amount and use, the effect is lost. To humans, catnip is a relaxant in tea form. It causes a calming effect which relieves stress, anxiety and helps promote sleep. This teaches us about the proper balance of playtime and relaxation time.
So when you are playing with your cat, be present and enjoy the connection while finding a tad bit of Zen lessons along the way. When you are done, relax and have some tea while you appreciate the life you have with your cat. This will surely promote you own Inner Purr.
KT Cat Paws is a blogger and writer. She has written and taught various spiritual concepts while focusing on maintaining her blog at The Art of Awakening. A blog dedicated to help people awaken their inner purr with the ways and wisdom of the cat. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.
On a side note, if you're going to play chess with your cat, be prepared. Most will knock over the pieces when they are losing. Sometimes in one big swat!
Image source: OnlyPositive.net