Giftwrap Gone Wild!
Type of game: Freeform 'performance art'
Social play level: Individual, with opportunity for turn-taking and 'spectating.'
Materials needed: Crinkly material--plastic bag with handles torn open, tissue paper, wax paper, wrapping paper (used or new); Small toys or household items (ping pong sized or larger), floor space, camera (optional)
Needs human interaction and/or supervision?: Yes, observe for safety.
In the photo Mandy Lou demonstrates this game. Humans place the crinkly material on the floor, and drop a small item onto the paper. Immediately the cat jumps on and begins to 'wrap' the item using front, sometimes also back legs. Note: Cats do not understand gift-giving, so this game continues as "Unwrap the Gift!" Replace paper or plastic as needed. Enjoy the photo ops! Hint: This game generates photos for Christmas or birthday cards galore!
Hide and Go Fetch--
Type of game: Loosely rule-oriented
Social play level: Individual to small group. (In groups, the game is more competetive.)
Materials needed: Small toys to toss, preferably with ribbon streamers; catnip mice. Furniture or boxes to hide behind, Clicker (optional)
Needs human interaction and/or supervision?: Yes, somebody has to throw the toy!
Mindy invented this game as an enhancement to her 'fetch' routine. She is a self-taught 'fetcher,' and can bring back a toy mouse several times in a row after 'going out for a long one.' One day, instead of sitting in the middle of the floor waiting for me to throw her toy, she ran and crouched down behind a large pottery vase. I threw the mouse past her hiding space so she could see it, and she dashed out to retrieve it. This is now her favorite Kitty Game! Note: If your cat doesn't bring the toy back to you, try 'clicker training.' Shape fetching behavior with clicks-and-treats when your cat randomly picks up the toy, then when she takes a step in your direction, then two steps. Continue in a slow and steady progression until your cat brings the toy and drops it in front of you.
Kitchen Soccer Scrimmage-- Type of game: Free play
Social play level: Individual to group. (In groups, the alpha cat may be the MVP!)
Materials needed: Small toys that jingle, crinkle or rattle when tossed around, a hard-surfaced floor. Squeak-and-play toy, video camers (optional)
Needs human interaction and/or supervision?: Cats can self-initiate this game, but they enjoy a cat or human scrimmage partner. And, once all the toys are under the stove, someone has to use a broomstick to get them out!
Another of Mindy's favorite games, using seashells, bell-balls, large almonds in the shell (they rattle!), and balls of crinkled paper. The tile floor allows toys to really resonate, and cats running on the slippery surface take on a cartoon appearance. Call 'Time Out' during meal preparation, but enjoy the game during kitchen clean-up time. Hint: A piece of broomstick or dowel cut to fit under the stove will prevent lost toys. : ) Video of your cat at play is a natural for social media!
HAVE FUN, FELINES!