Toy Guidelines for Senior Cats

Cat Playing With Toy Mouse

Although your senior cat spends far less time playing and far more time lounging than he did in his youth, he still enjoys activities that stimulate his mind and body. Not only does he enjoy them — he needs them to keep mentally and physically fit. It's often too easy to assume an older cat is satisfied with a day of leisure, but that's not fair to your cat, who may just be waiting for you to entice him to play.

Choose the Right Toy

If your cat recognizes images of animals on the television screen, he may enjoy a video made for cats of birds and other wildlife. Otherwise, make sure he has access to a window with a bird feeder in front of it.

Chances are that the toys that have been his favorites as an adult will still be his favorites now. They might include remote-controlled battery mice, laser light toys, fishing pole toys, lightweight balls, feather toys, fur toys or catnip toys. But take care when playing with any toys that require a lot of jumping or twisting. Although they may lure your cat into doing so, we all know how we feel when we play weekend athlete once we get older. Many senior cats have arthritis and take longer to recover from injuries. If your senior cat isn't used to such activity, you need to keep the gymnastics to a minimum.

Consider these lower-activity toys:

  • Paper bags: Just open one or more up and you have an instant cave and hiding place. Be sure the bag isn't where somebody could step on it, though.
  • Cardboard boxes: Cut various openings into the sides and set some upside down and others right side up.
  • Fleece pulls: Thick, soft pulls, such as the belt from a bathrobe, give cats something to chase and hold onto once they've caught it — and they're too big to be easily swallowed.
  • Climbing toys: Cat trees should have a variety of shelves to enable your older cat to get down without having to leap any great distance. Make sure it can't topple over.
  • Food dispensing toys: Fill a plastic "food puzzle" with treats or kibble, and let the cat roll it around to get the treats out.

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