This post is written by guest author, Allison Hunter-Frederick, from Allison Helps Cats LLC.
All Pet Voices may receive commissions from affiliate links included in this article.
Looking for ways to have fun with your cat this summer? Check out the following ideas, which begin with the more accessible and familiar activities and move on to the more unique.
Just like us, our cats enjoy special treats. While ice cream isn’t an option for them, we can provide them instead with a cool meaty treat by draining the water off your cat’s wet food and then freezing it in an ice cube tray. Other options include the juice from canned tuna or chicken, along with little pieces of meat.
You might also sprinkle in a dash of catnip.
In addition to the ice cubes helping to keep your cat hydrated and cool, they’re also delicious and fun to bat around. You might want to put the cubes in bowls, so you don’t end up with a carpet or floor soaked in meat juices.
2. PUZZLE FEEDERS
Cats appreciate a mental challenge as much as they do tasty treats, so why not combine the two? Food puzzles provide both physical exercise and mental stimulation, which in turn helps to keep cats happy and engaged.
You can purchase specialty food puzzles for cats or you can repurpose items in your home for DIY puzzles, such as an empty toilet paper roll and dry cat food or an empty muffin tin for wet food.
Indulge your cat’s inner predator by playing hide-and-seek with toys. Hide a toy behind a piece of furniture or under a rug. Then make the toy “peek” around the furniture or “slither” under the rug.
Experiment to see what toy works best, whether it’s a plush toy, kick toy, wand toy, or a ball. Your cat should love stalking, chasing, and grabbing her prey.
Make sure to use a toy rather than your hands or feet, so you don’t teach your cat to attack you.
4. LIGHT TAG
Cats love to chase lights and there are several ways to engage your cat with lights.
You could use a mirror to reflect sunlight onto the floor. You could turn down the lights, and then turn on a flashlight. Or you could buy a laser pointer.
Whichever you pick, make sure you never shine the light in your cat’s eyes. Also, it’s a good idea to reward your cat with a treat when the light game is over, since they can become frustrated that they can never catch their “prey”.
5. WATER FUN
Whether or not your cat enjoys getting wet, there are options for water fun. For example, blowing bubbles can be a fun way for you and your cat to play with water, as many cats love to chase and pop the bubbles. There are even flavored, pet-safe bubbles.
Another option, one that will entertain and keep your cat cool, is Go Fish. Fill a container with cool water and place a few floating toys in it for your cat to bat.
Lastly, a practical purchase for any cat is a cat drink fountain. These allow cats to play with water and also might encourage them to drink more water as an added bonus.
6. FORAGE BOXES
Satisfy your cat’s need to dig and root around by providing your cat with a forage box. You can build your own by using a litter tray, storage container, or cardboard box. Then fill with treats and toys.
You might also mix in outdoor objects like leaves, pinecones, rocks, and twigs. Just avoid adding anything potentially toxic. To up the ante, you might add child-friendly sand or shredded paper.
7. SCAVENGER HUNT
Cats appreciate having fun tasks to do. Try engaging your cat with a scavenger hunt.
You might want to start out small by having your cat look for just a couple toys or treats that you put in easy sight. As your cat catches on to how to play, you can add more toys and treats, as well as make them harder to find.
This game will provide work for your cat’s brain by requiring him or her to problem solve.
8. HIDE AND SEEK
To play hide-and-seek with your cat, you’ll want someone to distract your cat while you hide. Once you’re hidden, call your cat by name. When your cat finds you, shower your cat with lots of praise and treats or toys.
If your cat has trouble finding you, leave a trail of treats that will lead your cat to your location. This game should be fun for the whole family, from the youngest to the oldest.
9. CAT CASTLE
Collect cardboard boxes to build a cat castle. Other supplies needed include scissors, tape, and markers or decorative paper.
Be as elaborate as you want! You might just cut holes in the boxes for doors and windows, tape the boxes together, color with markers, and call it good.
Alternatively, you might use a tape measure to measure everything, a utility knife to cut the holes, and decorative paper to add the finishing touch.
And if crafting isn’t your thing, you can also purchase pre-made cat castles.
10. OBSTACLE COURSE
Cats are curious creatures and so many of them enjoy investigating safe changes to their environment. Satisfy this trait by creating a maze or an obstacle course with common household items.
Construct a maze-like structure by placing cushions and pillows around the room. You can include boxes and chairs that offer your cat a high perch for jumping. For more variety, you can add tunnels, hula hoops, and pool noodles.
If you want to get fancier, you could even create an agility course using chairs for jumps, paper bags (with the bottom and the handles removed) for tunnels, and water bottles for weaves. All of the courses can be mastered as a team by you and your cat together.
One of my favorite ways to have fun with cats is to teach them tricks. One particularly fitting for summer is fetch. You can start teaching your cats to play fetch by sitting on the floor, tossing a favorite toy, and seeing what happens. Repetition might help your cat understand the game.
Cats might learn that as they bring the toy back, the toy “comes to life” every time it’s thrown. If your cat catches onto the concept, you could eventually switch out their favorite toy for a ball or frisbee. In addition to fetch being a fast-paced and fun activity, it can provide you and your cat with exercise, and an opportunity to work on basic manners such as “Sit” and “Wait” and “Drop It”.
Remember the childhood game Red Light, Green Light? Everyone started at the starting line, stepped forward for “Green Light” and stopped for “Red Light.” Go for the creative twist of playing this game with your cats and practice “Sit”, “Stay”, and “Come. At the end of game play, reinforce with treats.
Not all cats enjoy venturing outside, but for those that do spoil them with summer outings. Take your cat on an evening stroll when the temperatures are cooling off and the breeze is light. Use a reflective leash to make you and your cat easy to spot.
If your cat loves going for walks, lengthen the stroll into a hike by a lake or in the woods. Make sure the two of you are well hydrated through the whole trek.
Other ideas for outings include a:
- Picnic in your backyard or in the park
- Movie at a pet-friendly drive-in
- Meal at a pet-friendly restaurant
- Shopping trip at the Farmer’s Market
For the first three, you might need to bring your cat’s water dish and a bag of treats. For the last, you might find new treats to buy! At all of four places, your cat will have a chance to encounter new people and scents.
13. CANDID PHOTOS
Be sure to take photos of your cat engaging in some of these summer activities. Photos are a great way to capture memories. In addition, social media is blowing up with summer cat photos and people will surely enjoy seeing your photos too.
How do you enjoy special moments and fun with your cat during summer months? Tell us in the comments!
About the Author: Allison Hunter-Frederick is a cat behavior consultant, cat therapy handler, and pet education blogger. Her articles have been published in local and national publications, as well as on her blog, Lincoln Pet Culture. Through her business, Allison Helps Cats LLC, she uses a research-based, positive reinforcement teaching approach to help cat owners improve their relationships with their cats all from the comfort of their home.