How to motivate Terra the Cat to be active in her play?

thefishyone

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I’m trying to play with Terra the Cat on the lower level of my house to build her confidence in going there by herself. However, my roommate is usually playing his PS5 in the living room with Riggs the Dog slouched down on the couch behind him, so I have to play with her in the kitchen.

My kitchen also doubles as a dining room with a dining table predded up against the wall. When I play with her in there, she will run under the table and watch Da Bird, but rarely pounce on it.

The whole point of playtime is to give Terra a much needed physical outlet, but she spends most of her playtime observing Da Bird from a stationary position. Her eyes are glued to it, so I know she wants to pounce. Any tips on what I can do to encourage her to be more engaged in her playtime?

To be clear, Terra is VERY good at catching Da Bird. I rarely have to “let” her win, because she will catch it despite my best efforts around 50% of the time, which is about how often a cat would have a successful hunt in the wild. Terra has always been a very intelligent, thoughtful kitty, so i think she’s just waiting for the opportune mount to pounce, but I can’t seem to figure out what that opportune moment looks like.
 

Neko-chan's mama

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Neko-chan usually will go in for the kill when her "prey" lands, half hidden behind an obstacle and quivering. After she catches it an flips it in the air a few times, I have it scurry away and hide behind something else. We can usually get 3-4 catches before she loses interest.
 

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If she is even a bit stressed by being on the same level as the dog, its normal that she won't actually play. There is this idea that play therapy helps, but the reality is that a stressed cat generally won't play so one can't even really start play therapy. Some cats don't play much to begin with, but it sounds like you can play upstairs just fine, so its stress interfering.

That she is in a nearby room will help. If she will accept affection there, thats great too. If not, just be present to help her stay calm. Time will hopefully do the rest.
 

rubysmama

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Is her play with da bird different when you're in another room? If so, it may have something to do with the dog being in the other room, and maybe even the sounds coming from the PS5.

If she responds the same way to it wherever it is, then maybe it's just not the right toy for her. My Ruby isn't a big fan of da bird, and actually also does more watching it, than actually pouncing on it.

If you think she might need a different type of toy, TCS has this article: How To Choose The Best Toy For Your Cat – TheCatSite Articles

Plus:
Playing With Your Cat: 10 Things You Need To Know – TheCatSite Articles
7 Proven Ways To Get Your Cat To Be More Active – TheCatSite Articles
 
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thefishyone

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When I was living on my own in an apartment with just Terra and myself, she would go nuts for Da Bird. Problem is, downstairs is the only place in the house with enough floor space to play. I suppose I could try playing with her on my bed, but I don’t think that would go over too well. Also, I might be using it wrong. Are there any guides on how to use Da Bird to play with your cat?

’ve also noticed that If I don’t use sprayable catnip, she will actually pounce on it to catch it. If I do, she will run over it. Anyone know why this might be?
 
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thefishyone

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I should also add that Terra is almost 11, and isn’t a young cat anymore. Should I adjust my methods to compensate for this fact?
 
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thefishyone

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So I just discovered a fun game I can play with Terra: When I ball my fist up and move it under my blanket, it looks just like a mouse. If I move my fist randomly under the blanket, she will pounce on it. The blanket protects my fist from claws and teeth, and after a fee minutes of play, I feed her some post playtime treats. She is then happy and content for the rest of the night.

my befroom is very small, and the bed takes up about 80% of the floor space. The downstairs is the only place in the house other than my roommate’s room with enough floor space to play with a wand toy. Terra loved Da Bird as a kitten, and well into adulthood. Do you think it would be good idea to play with Terra on top of my bed? What if I asked my roommate to lock Riggs is his room upstairs for a few minutes a day while I played with Terra downstairs?
 

rubysmama

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So I just discovered a fun game I can play with Terra: When I ball my fist up and move it under my blanket, it looks just like a mouse. If I move my fist randomly under the blanket, she will pounce on it. The blanket protects my fist from claws and teeth,
Ruby and I inadvertently play that game at night, however, instead of my hand, it's my foot. And it's not really me playing, but simply moving my foot in my sleep. Ruby doesn't know that though, and pounces. And if I just have a thin sheet over me, ouchies happen. :oops:

Do you think it would be good idea to play with Terra on top of my bed? What if I asked my roommate to lock Riggs is his room upstairs for a few minutes a day while I played with Terra downstairs?
I think either or would be fine. Just make sure she doesn't accidentally fall off the bed. And as for the downstairs, as long as the scent of Riggs doesn't distract her, that could work too.
 
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thefishyone

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Yeah, Riggs has a skin condition common to Old English Bulldogs that cause him to stink bad enough that even I can smell him. If The Person can smell The Dog, you know The Cat can.
 

rubysmama

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In that case, maybe try letting her play and see how it goes. Maybe the scent won't bother her.
 
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thefishyone

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I think the problem is more that she considers downstairs to be Riggs’s territory. Even after living here for 4 years, Terra still prefers to be wherever I am. Not sure if it’s because she loves me that much or is insecure about her ownership of my room. Any ideas on how to get her more comfortable with being and playing down there?
 

rubysmama

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I'm not sure, but cats tend to have their favourite places. And if where she spends most of her time isn't a problem, you might not want to stress her out trying change things up. Some cats don't react well to change, and get stressed, which can cause issues like spraying, liter box avoidance, etc.

Stress in Cats – The Ultimate Guide – TheCatSite Articles
 
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thefishyone

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Makes sense. The only problem is that the only spot upstairs with enough surface area to play on is the top of my bed. I’ve taken to playing with her there by pretending my fist is a mouse and moving it under the blanket. I’ll do this until she says stop and she will let me sleep in peace for the rest of the night.

Do you think playing with Da Bird on top of my bed might be a good idea if the only other alternative is downstairs?
 

rubysmama

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Oh, right, I forgot about their not being much space upstairs. I think playing on your bed would be fine, as long as a) she doesn't accidently fall off and b) she continues to remember that night time the bed stops being a playground.

You mention she likes to be where you are, so have you tried getting her to follow you downstairs? Can you put a tall cat tree down there, so she'll have someplace to hang out, that the dog can't easily reach her?
 
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thefishyone

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That’s actually a really good idea! I currently have some money to blow, so another cat tree would be a great way to keep it from burning a hole in my pocket.

Any tips on how to get Terra to use it once it’s there?
 

rubysmama

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That’s actually a really good idea! I currently have some money to blow, so another cat tree would be a great way to keep it from burning a hole in my pocket.
:lolup:: That's being a good cat parent. :thumbsup:

Any tips on how to get Terra to use it once it’s there?
Sprinkle catnip on it. Or maybe put some treats there. If you can put it near a window, then the view might be interesting enough to make it a favourite place.
 
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thefishyone

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Well, I just ran the idea past my categiver, and it’s a no go. I basically live in a two story apartment, and there really isn’t any room to put a cat tower down there. =(

Terra will also follow me wherever I go, and gets depressed if I have to leave the house for an extended period. She also spent the first 7 years of her life with me in a stuffy apartment, so I don’t think she will ever be willingly in a different room from me.
 
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