Health and Safety

Do Older Cats Need The Same Kind of Play As Younger Cats?


Every cat is a kitten at heart, no matter what their age. Even if you give a 20-year-old cat a ball of yarn, he or she is likely to go after it. Although, the cat may roll it around, rather than run and jump on it. Similar to human beings, as cats get older they tend to be less active. However, their need for exercise and play doesn’t stop simply because they’re aging. Engaging your cat in regular play can help prevent obesity (which is  common in older cats) and can even prolong its life.Kittens need little external stimulation because the play is so much a part of their life.


Kittens also have the added advantage of built-in companionship. They have their littermates to play games with. People like to give kittens special pet toys. The truth is, they can make a toy out of everyday objects.  People who have kittens know this all too well. Many people give their kittens toys just to keep them out of their sewing kit, socks, and sweaters. Nothing is more fun for them than unraveling a favorite handmade sweater. Favorite toys for kittens include wands with feathers at the end.



Favorite toys for kittens include wands with feathers at the end. These wands enable the cat to run and jump as if it is chasing a small bird. Kittens also enjoy balls with bells inside, some of these balls even have a bit of catnip in them. Kittens also enjoy windup or battery operated mice. It gives them the feeling that they are hunting like the big cats. Most of the time, kittens are able to entertain themselves with whatever is available. They even enjoy chasing their own tails and running around the house for no apparent reason.



Older cats may enjoy a second kittenhood and may actually need more attention than kittens. They are less likely to do things themselves and may require more external stimulation. Cats live much longer than dogs and this means they spend more time as older cats. When cats age, their metabolism slows down and they get less exercise. They may also eat more out of boredom and start gaining too much weight. This can be particularly problematic if the cat has arthritis. Extra weight can put immense pressure on aching joints and bones.


Encouraging your cat to play requires more effort when it is 13 years old than it would if it were three months old. It is worthwhile to try to encourage your older cat to play. It helps them burn calories and help fend off obesity.   The more active your cat is, the better it will feel now and in its advanced years.  You can still use some of the toys for your older cat it enjoyed as a kitten.  Older cats may prefer softer toys that are gentler on their teeth. Even the most listless cat can be engaged in chasing and hunting activities. Because hunting is instinctual, cats enjoy this game well into old age.  Fake birds and imitation mice are a good choice for cats of any age. A little catnip may make play time even more entertaining.


One thing that can keep your cat fit and ready to play, even if they are 10 years and older, is the right kind of food. Just as people modify their diets when they get older senior cats need special food. Most major companies have a brand for senior cats.  In some cases, this is diet cat food, because obesity is so prevalent in older cats. Ideally, the food should be high in both protein and carbohydrates. Aim for a wet food and dry food combination. Some cats like to know that there is always food in the bowl.  You can leave the dry food there and offer some wet food once a day.  Check with your vet to see if your cat needs a special diet.


If your cat is overweight, avoid giving it too many treats. When you do give treats between meals, reserve them for good behavior. You should take your older cats for an annual veterinary checkup and make sure the cat is weighed each visit. Maintaining the proper weight is one way to keep your cat in playing mode.


It is hard for a cat to feel playful at any age if it is not feeling healthy. Know what conditions to troubleshoot for as cats get older. Thyroid problems and diabetes are common in senior cats.  A veterinarian should be able to tell you what symptoms to look for. Many cats have dental problems. Your vet may offer periodic cleaning. Their teeth should be cared for with special treats and even brushing. Arthritis can keep your cat from being as active as it was when it was younger. You should ask your veterinarian how to ease your pets’ discomfort if it has this condition. Feeling healthy is an important part of being happy and playful, so make sure your pet is in the best of health.


There is a controversy over outdoor versus indoor cats. It is known that indoor cats have a longer lifespan than outdoor cats.  They are less likely to catch infectious diseases that can compromise health. If your cat spent its youth outdoors being outside was an important part of its play when it was a kitten. It might be useful to help your cat make the transition to finding entertainment inside as he gets older. With age, cats become more vulnerable to disease. They are more likely to have problems with predators. They are even less able to defend themselves in a fight with dogs and cats. As their speed and vision get worse they are more likely to be hit by a car.


Give your cat some extra attention to help encourage it to stay indoors.  Give your cat a special bed, scratching post and some toys to play with. The point is making sure that your cat keeps active. Senior cats do sleep and rest a lot.  You want to make sure there is a balance. Cats may enjoy playing with other cats.  But if your pet is advanced in years, they may not welcome the invasion of its space.  Allow it to enjoy your companionship.

Enjoyed this article? You have to check out “The Secret of Cat Longevity.”

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