In my latest book, The Complete Guide to Holistic Cat Care, An Illustrated Guide, which I co-wrote with my dear friend and fellow MOXXOR Advisory Board member, holistic veterinarian, Jean Hofve, DVM, I share from my personal experience the importance of playing with your cat to deepen your bond with your human animal bond. I call it Play Therapy.
What is Play Therapy?
Play therapy is a specific type of structured play done with an interactive fishing pole-type toy (or something you and cat can enjoy interactively) on a schedule. Through play therapy, we can harness the catís natural hunting instinct and use it in a beneficial way. For instance, in multi-cat homes, bullies can be praised for chasing the toy, which is acceptable prey. Shy cats get their confidence boosted by “successful” hunts. Cats that wake their people at all hours can be retrained to sleep when we do by having a play therapy session before bedtime that gets them all “pooped out.”
Play therapy also creates an immense increase in the guardian-cat bond over time. Your cat will appreciate the difference between nightly sessions of playing with a wand toy and getting praised by you over the furry mice that he or she bats at for two minutes and then loses under the fridge.
If you sense, during your play sessions, that you have a very special kitty athlete, and if you have the inclination, you may wish to explore the wonderful world of cat agility.
What is Cat Agility?
When we think of agility competitions, we usually think of dogs. Dog agility was loosely modeled on equestrian jumping competitions; it debuted as spectator entertainment at the 1979 Crufts Dog Show in London. Since then, it has become the most rapidly growing dog sport in Western Europe and North America. The International Cat Agility Tournaments (ICAT) has created a similar cat competition where cats display their coordination, speed, and grace of movement in negotiating an agility course.
Abyssinians, Tonkinese, Siamese, and Cornish Rexes are especially suited for cat agility, but any cat can take part. You can most often find cat agility at cat shows, but it can take place anywhere. The course is completely enclosed by high portable fencing. Cat agility is a wonderful way to deepen the bond with our cats. Both pedigreed show cats and household pets can perform, so it is very democratic and certainly not a beauty contest! As the handler trains and guides the cat throughout the course, you see a great relationship between handler and cat. Everyone involved with cat agility hopes to see it become as popular for cats as it is with dogs. Itís great to see everyone watching the cats and sharing the handlersí enthusiasm as they race around the course. The cats seem to love it, too.