Improving the Quality of Life for Cats and Cat Lovers

The Daily Cat delivers health, nutrition, training and behavior news and resources for cat owners and cat lovers

Games Your Cat Will Love

What could be better for your cat than playing games? "The physicality of playing will keep a cat healthy," says Ellen Poole, owner and trainer at Just Tails, a feline training center in the San Francisco Bay Area. "The mental stimulation of the movement during play can keep a cat emotionally well too. A few minutes a day of play can help your cat release a lot of extra energy." 

Playtime is key, particularly with indoor cats that can sometimes feel a bit of cabin fever.  "Imagine if all you did all day was sit and sleep and wait for someone to come home," says Poole. "Cats, like humans, need to move. Just a little bit of action will make a big difference in the cat's health and attitude. Put a toy between you and your cat, rather than using your hands, because cat claws and teeth are sharp."

Poole says outdoor cats aren't as vulnerable to the dulling, obesity-causing problems that indoor cats face because they have the freedom to hunt, hide and chase. "All animals are predatory, and indoor cats especially need a healthy prey-drive outlet -- playing is a way do that," explains Poole. "Try playing with your pet just before you go to bed because cats are naturally nocturnal." Poole's logic suggests that a little activity before you go to sleep "works out" your cat's natural nighttime energy. Poole also says to avoid play immediately after mealtime. "Cats generally like to groom themselves after a meal," she says. "Think of big cats in the wild cleaning their nails and fur after a kill. That post-meal grooming is their instinct, even in a sweet-mannered indoor cat."

Wondering what to play? Check out these five new creative games to play with cats of all ages and temperaments:

Paw Hockey
Cat puzzles are designed to compel the cat to retrieve an object that's just out of reach. For example, a popular cat puzzle available at most pet stores is a rubber circle with a ball inside, and the cat bats it around to try to get to the ball, which is usually a noise maker. Says Poole: "Toys where the cat can bat are good because that's how a cat in the wild 'plays' when trapping a mouse, for example."

Mystery Lights and Shadows
You can use either of two devices for this game: a flashlight or a laser pointer. With a flashlight, turn off the lights and point the light toward the wall or even the sofa. Wiggle your fingers or dangle cat-friendly objects in front of the light to create mysterious shadows for your cat to attack. The red beam of the laser scurrying about the wall should be enough to give your cat a great workout.

Magic Wand
"I like wands that look like fishing poles with little toys on the end because you can wiggle them, and cats actually stalk the 'prey,' " says Poole. Wands vary in price and style; some have feathers on the ends, some have little charms or textured animals. Using the wand, you can pull the object along the floor and wiggle it. Cats especially love it when you bounce it above their heads. Poole says cats love to stalk because this is a natural predatory behavior. And with you controlling the magic wand, you're a part of the game.

Bubble Dance
Got 99 cents and a kitchen? Sit on the ground, or in a chair, and blow bubbles -- not too many at once -- for your cat to chase, catch and pop! ("Hey! Where'd it go?"). This is great fun for kids to play with the family cat, too.

Ball Dash
Ping pong balls work best for this game because they're light, they bounce and your cat's claws don't sink into them like they might with a ball made of fabric. This game is especially fun on a staircase, but flat ground is fine, too. Tie a long piece of string around the ball, and drag it down the stairs (so it bounces), over the sofa, across the floor -- whatever gets the ball doing more than just rolling. Be sure to let your cat "catch" the ball so it has a sense of success. Good hunting, kitty

Bling Bling for Cats

Do you want your kitty to live in the lap of luxury? When it comes to feline bling, the sky's the limit.

From diamond jewelry to sumptuous bedding and even gold teeth, anything your cat craves may just be within paw's reach. Gucci now has a pet bed for $2,000, and even feline real estate has gone sky-high. Cat condos with two to three rooms (that can be placed inside the home) can be had for as much as $5,000.

"Dogs have been in the spotlight for a while, and now felines are getting their fair share of bling and dazzle," says Arden Moore, author of 50 Simple Ways to Pamper Your Cat (Storey). She says as more and more cats become indoor pets, it "unleashes a new opportunity for upscale cat furniture that matches their owner's d‚cor," which means things like posh bedding and upscale climbing condos.

Cats don't want to be left out, agrees Maggie Gallant, host of  Pet Trends with Maggie Gallant on Animal Planet. "Part of a cat's personality is to show off while still being that elusive super model. Adding a little bling brings out your cat's essence."

This can mean carting your cat in a thousand-dollar Luis Vuitton carrier or even splurging on custom-designed jewelry. "There are plenty of celebrities who get real jewelry for their cats and dogs and by that I mean platinum and diamonds," Gallant says. "They buy jewelry for the cat that matches their own pieces."

Here's a look at some swanky trinkets for your kitty:

Genuine Gems
Crystal and rhinestone collars abound. But diamonds are also a cat's best friend. Hope Cox, whose online jewelry company, The Pet's Jeweler, is based in Augusta, Ga., offers ID tags and necklaces for the feline crowd. Solid 14-karat tags with handset diamonds start at about $850, and a simple diamond and gold necklace can be had for about $1,000. For those who want to truly splurge, a 9-karat necklace, which must be special-ordered, runs $19,000.

Feline Fragrances
To prove your kitty is number one, have a fragrance created in his or her honor. Les Pooches offers perfume for your pet so yuor pet can smell like none other. Prices start at $50 for a 3.4 oz bottle.

Golden Grills
When his cat Sebastian needed his smile fixed, David Steele of Alexandria, Ind., ventured where few if any other dentists have gone before. He gave his long-haired black Persian cat solid gold crowns. "We used the best kind of gold you can get -- just like what you'd use on humans," says Steele proudly. The result not only strengthened Sebastian's teeth, but also helped make him the center of attention. "He's quite the showpiece," admits Steele, who says the cat's photo has been featured in publications around the globe. Since then, Steele says he's received several calls from pet owners around the country requesting his services, which unfortunately, he can't accommodate. "My office really isn't really equipped for pets," he says.

The bling, which would cost about $900 per tooth for humans, costs less for cats because their teeth are obviously smaller. Although there was a legitimate dental reason for the work, Steele, who admits to being a practical joker at heart, says, "It's also for aesthetics. He looks really cute with the grill. It's too bad his teeth are too tiny for diamonds."

Costly Carriers
When it comes to cat carriers, designer flair is everywhere. Big names now designing cat carriers include Juicy Couture, Coach, UGG and Gucci, not to mention Louis Vuitton, whose fanciest well-ventilated bag retails for just under $1,500. Having the "it" bag could cost you a pretty penny.

Big-Ticket Beds
Why settle for a nap by the window when a world of luxurious bedding awaits? Gucci now makes goat hair pet beds that retail for around $2,000. And for movie buffs, try the CinePetLounger by First Impressions. Designed for those lucky enough to have in-home theaters, the $895 personalized pet bed comes complete with a bedside bowl for snacking. For those with post-modern tastes, Muttropolis Dog and Cat Boutique offers the futuristic Designer Cat Couchette for $359, and the Designer Kittypod for $369. "In the past, cats had to be content with maybe some catnip or a feather to play with," says Muttropolis' Dana Humphrey. "Now everything a cat could ever need or want is available."

Flicks for Felines

Flicks for Felines

Watching a cat watch TV is funny, right? And lately, you can go to YouTube and see dozens and dozens of clips showing feisty cats pawing televisions, eager to get their mitts on the squirrel, the bird or some other natural feline prey skittering about on the screen.

"Some cats even run around the back of the television trying to find the bird that flew 'off' the screen," says Steve Malarkey, creator of Video Catnip, a DVD that features two hours of feline-friendly footage. "Cats really do watch movies, and it's especially good for indoor cats. It's a lot of fun to see how the cats react to the TV."

Malarkey has sold more than 350,000 copies of Video Catnip, with a 98 percent success rate -- pet owners regularly write him with their stories of how the DVD calmed and entertained their cat. "A cat DVD is great when the owner leaves the house," says Malarkey. "Cats get bored, and some cats get stressed or worried that their mommy or daddy isn't coming back. Some cats just stare at the screen, but they are definitely watching. The DVD reduces their stress and helps with separation anxieties."

Popping in a DVD for your cat might seem odd, especially since veterinarians rarely go on record regarding the exact details of feline vision. What we do know is that cats see quick movements (just ask anyone whose cat plays with a laser light), and that critters such as butterflies, dragonflies, lizards, squirrels, chipmunks and birds are natural feline prey. Movies such as Malarkey's occupy the cat, distracting those often anxious home-alone feelings. 

Below is a list of feline-friendly flicks that are sure to get rave reviews and two paws up from your cat:

  1. Video Catnip: This bestselling DVD features two hours of footage of birds, squirrels and chipmunks.
  2. Cat-TV II: This 60-minute DVD showcases fish, mice and other rodents to entertain adventurous cats everywhere.
  3. Kitty Safari I and Kitty Safari II: These 30-minute DVDs feature all-music soundtracks, which could be a draw for the kitty that likes music played when its owner leaves the house.
  4. Lullabies and Butterflies: This 60-minute DVD is made for infants and toddlers, but cats love its quiet, peaceful nature scenes set to lullabies.
  5. Cedar Lake Nature Series: Nature's Bird Talk: This DVD features a full hour of footage of beautiful birds in their natural environment, accompanied by their melodic birdcalls.
  6. Animal Rescue: Volume 2: Best Cat Rescues: Okay, this one is about the big cats, but what domestic cat wouldn't like seeing its brave cousins make it out of sticky situations?

For the Cat that Has Everything

Cats are entitled to be treated like royalty -- at least they seem to think so. We just exist merely to serve their every wish and whim. So give your cats the royal treatment they deserve (and you're all too happy to give) with these regal products, designed to pamper your furry little prince or princess.

Cat Condo
What cat could possibly resist the posh comfort of the stately Cat Condo from Hollywood Kitty Co? Touted as the "cat's meow," this kitty condo provides a place for your royal highness to play, lounge, climb, hide, and scratch. (The front post is covered in sisal, a durable plant fiber that, when woven, resembles a heavy coiled rope.) Great for cats of all ages and abilities.

Chateaneuf du Chat -- Herb du Catnip
Literally translated, its name means "Wine of the Cat," and perhaps rightly so. Let your cat roll in some catnip from this wine-shaped bottle, and it'll behave just like a drunken princess at the ball. Ooh-la-la!

KittyWalk Stroller
For those pampered pusses that have never put their paws to the pavement, we suggest riding in style in the KittyWalk Stroller. This upscale "kitty SUV" allows your cat to experience the great outdoors from the safety of an enclosed space. Made for housecats that love the fresh air, but don't enjoy being led around on a commoner's leash.

Lulu's Garden Retreat Pet Bed
This bed is purrfect for kitties that love to catnap in complete comfort. Lulu's Garden Retreat pet bed is fashioned out of wrought iron and is decorated with carved flowers, braided posts, and a lovely crystal finial fit for a queen. Four feline-friendly pillows are available for surrounding comfort.

A Jeweled Cat Collar
No royal ensemble would be complete without a sparkling accessory. A jeweled cat collar are made of imported leather and adorned with genuine Rhinestones and crystals, each individually set for added beauty and security. They vary in sizes and several eye-catching colors.

Hagen Living World Pet Spa
All princesses relish a day at the spa, and their feline counterparts are no different. The Hagen Living World Pet Spa boasts a multitude of textures and activities that will keep even the fussiest cat interested for hours. The flat surfaces feature accupressure pads that feel wonderful underneath a cat's paws; the center surface is a Ripple Massager topped by a Gum Stimulator for healthy chewing. There are also three Body Stroke Groomers for self-grooming and massage.

Outdoor Bungalow Cat House
Her royal highness can't be expected to stay cramped in one royal residence all year-round! The Outdoor Bungalow Cat House (or, as we like to call it, "The Country House") lets your cat venture outdoors, yet provides a cozy shelter when the wind is howling. Each house comes with three windows, allowing the sun to shine in and your kitty to peer out. And here's a bonus: It's easy on the eyes and unobtrusively blends in with all environments. Add-ons such as a breezeway, a sun deck, a back door, and a second story are up to you and your kitty.

Mink Cape
Sure, your cat already has a fur coat, but even kitties need to make a fashion statement on special occasions. So, why not treat kitty to a luxurious mink cape (faux, of course) that will warm its coat, along with its heart. This is Kitty Couture at its finest!