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Which mistakes to avoid when playing with a cat?

Jennifer from Pittsburg asks:

Hello CatPet team! Guys, you are awesome! If it’s possible, I would like this one to be addressed to Meredith.

Two weeks ago we adopted a 10 weeks old GeeGee the Maine Coon. He is a very active kitten and really loves to play. However, my husband and I want to be conscious pet parents and prevent behavioral problems in the future. This is why I wanted to ask you about the most common mistakes one can make when playing with his pet (preferably a cat).


I forwarded this one to Meredith. You can read her answers below:

Mistake #1: Punishing a pet during playtime.

Your pet can bite, scratch, or jump on you while playing. It’s not the sign of aggression but the way your pet shows its excitement and engagement. When punishing a dog or a cat during the playtime for such behavior, you’ll either trigger real aggression or discourage your pet from playing with you.

Mistake #2: Choosing toys your pet might be allergic to.

Make sure your pet isn’t allergic to the toy you offer. It may develop a latex allergy when playing with rubber toys or get a bird feather allergy if the toy contains feathers.

In my practice, there were cases when cat owners shifted their pets to a hypoallergenic diet, but they still had an allergy because of their favorite rubber balls. Therefore, the best option will be to give hypoallergenic toys for your pets to chew.

Mistake #3: Playing with pets when they don’t want it.

Some owners prefer playing with pets when they have free time, not when their pets want it. Please don’t force your dog or cat to play if you see they aren’t in a mood for that or when they’ve just finished eating their meals. First, they can mistakenly perceive it as aggression; and second, this may hurt their digestion and lead to stomach disorders (such as pancreatitis or gastritis) in the long term.

The best option is to set up a daily schedule that would be comfortable for you and your pet and make it a tradition to play on a given time. But please pay attention to how your four-legged friend feels both physically and mentally before playing with them.

Mistake #4: Treating a pet during playtime.

Do not give treats during the playtime. The thing is that pets shift to another emotional state when playing and they can’t switch to a regular “owner-pet” model to accept treats correctly. It may result in unwanted food aggression.

So it’s easier not to treat your dog than treat its future food aggression.

Mistake #5: Not having a safe environment for playing.

Pet owners often forget that it’s their responsibility to provide a safe environment for playing with their four-legged friends. Keep out of fire or glass when playing with a pet, trim a cat’s claws if playing with her on a sofa, etc. Otherwise, the result may be in failure: damaged property or injuries and traumas at pets or owners’ end.

Mistake #6: Playing with young cats only.

Don’t ignore playing with your adult dogs and cats, as most of them remain playful even when getting old. It’s a great way to help them stay active and healthy and contribute to your strong pet-human bond.

Thank you for reading this! We wish your pets to be healthy and happy! Click here to ask your own question.

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