Susan is a free spirit who abides by her own rules—much like the cats she adores.
Playing with your cat can benefit both of you. Games provide cats with mental stimulation and exercise which they need just as much as we do. Plaything together also helps strengthen your bond and builds trust and affection. Here are ten easy games that you and your feline companions can enjoy day after day, without having to spend big bucks.
Games Cats Love
1. You will need only one object for this game: a ping pong ball. It's an easy game. You bounce the ping pong ball on the floor or against a wall and watch your cat bounce along with it. I've done this many times and have ended up laughing at the many odd ways my cats can twist and contort their bodies just to get a swipe at the little ball.
2. Crumple a piece of paper, roll it across the floor, and watch what happens. My cats love this game. There's something about the sound crumpled paper makes that they just cannot resist. One of my cats even carries the crumpled ball of paper with her when she goes to bed. Be sure to collect the ball of paper when you're done playing, or you'll have confetti everywhere the next day! I learned that the hard way.
3. Cut about two feet of yarn or ribbon and drag it across the bed or floor. Your cats' eyes will literally bulge out of their heads when they see the alluring piece of string and they'll bolt right for it. Just make sure to put it away when you're done. You don't want your cats swallowing the string.
4. Hide a stuffed toy under a blanket and wiggle it around so that the blanket moves. Your cats will think there's a mouse under the covers and dive right for it. Move the toy around so they have room to pounce. A variation of this would be to put your cat under the covers and you lightly run the stuffed toy over the blanket. My cats can't resist trying to catch the shadows. (See photo above.)
5. Play hide and seek. Hide behind a couch, bed, desk, anything. Cats will stalk you as if you're e their prey. Be alert though, cats are crafty. They'll be right overhead or underfoot before you know it. Watch this funny video of a cat expertly "stalking" his prey which, in this case, is the camera.
6. Play newspaper dance. You know how to play this game, right? You put a sheet or two of newspaper on the floor, but instead of you stepping on it, put your cat on top of it and entice him by wagging something under the newspaper. He'll fall in love with the crinkly newspaper at first pounce. You can also blow a little air so the edges of the newspaper fly up a bit. Your cat won't know which corner to attack first.
7. Play "tag." I don't know if other people do this as well, but I play tag with my cats. I run and they chase after me. One of them eventually "tags" me and I run after them. It's very good exercise for my cats and for me, too.
8. This one doesn't involve exercise, but it's lots of fun. Sit in front of the computer with your cat on your lap, facing the screen. Find an interesting video, watch it together, and see how your cat likes it. Here's a video of my cat Jiggy being baffled by Mr. Bean:
9. Put a large paper bag on the floor and stand back. Your cats will gravitate to it like moths to a flame. Once they jump in it, gently poke the sides of the paper bag with your fingers. The cat inside will have a grand old time trying to catch your fingers.
10. If you don't mind your stuff getting messed up, leave your bag open on your bed and watch your curious cats try to find out what's inside it. Mine almost always get my lipstick for some reason. They really enjoy batting it across the floor.
Now Start Playing!
Aren't all these games easy and fun? I hope you enjoy playing with your cat and strengthening your bond in the process!
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.
Dana on December 01, 2019:
me and my family actually taut our cat to play fetch with bottle caps she brings them back too.
Savanna on May 31, 2018:
my cats likes to knock their little plastic screw shaped toys under the couch and they go absolutely crazy when I flick them across the room haha
gigi on April 16, 2018:
why does my cat like to play with ice cubes
Susan Ng Yu (author) on April 07, 2018:
Haha! And they probably look at you like you're crazy? :-p
jake on March 31, 2018:
my cats love sneaking into my friends bag they both keep on getting my friends diary. The tag thing doesn't work because I run and they both just sit there.
Lynn Bedard on February 06, 2018:
My Foxy love me to blow bubbles and would bap at them anywhere they floated or landed. Lately, tho, she's a little weary of them so I'm putting them away for awhile, and will try some of these you've posted. Her fav is to dash in the bedroom when she hears me begin to put clean sheets on the bed. Nothing more fun than to jump up under one when it's in the air and coming down. I think I could leave her there all day and she'd be thrilled!
jim on January 06, 2018:
One other amazing trick - bankers box, with a lid. My cat knows how to flip open the lid and then jump in before it closes. Favourite hiding spot. Boxes have handles and openings at the side so he can look out or jump at ones fingers as they make noises over the box and get to the opening. Cats are amazing.
jim on January 06, 2018:
Great games. Cat loves to play hide and seek and tag. One variation of tag is his mouse on a string and chases me across the room as i drag it. He then grabs it and takes it back to the start position. I grab, run and repeat the episode. About 5 or 6 goes and he is ready for something else.
Boo McCourt from Washington MI on January 06, 2017:
Love these ideas. My cat Cleo loves the newspaper one. It gets her all riled up. She'll zip through the apt and stop at the newspaper, dance around and zip off again. Enjoyed reading your hub.
Safa on December 10, 2016:
Thanks for this ideas I love it
Sophie on April 23, 2016:
nice ideas but my cat didn't like any of them :(
lfrra on January 09, 2015:
The papper nevers good for my cat
Sierra on December 17, 2014:
A cat's nutritional reinuremeqts are much different than those of a dog. For example, cats require higher levels of protein than dogs. Cats must have the amino acid called taurine' in their diet; dogs can actually make their own taurine. A cat eating food deficient in taurine can develop severe heart disease and other health problems. Almost all cat foods now contain added taurine.Cats require a different form of Vitamin A than dogs do. Dogs can use beta-carotene as a source of Vitamin A; cats cannot. Cats can not manufacture the fatty acid called arachidonic acid' and must have it supplemented in their diet; it is not essential for dogs to have this fatty acid in their food.So, you see, if a cat is allowed to eat a significant amount of dog food, the cat would be eating a diet deficient in many of the cat's required nutrients. For your cat's health, be sure she is eating quality cat food.
Loyu on December 15, 2014:
I have 2 cats and three dogs. One night, I ran out of cat food (the dry type) and my cats were hungry. So since I had dog food only and the shops were clsoed, I gave them dog kibbles. They're more or less of the same shape and size and are made of the same ingredients chicken. My cats took a nibble and refused the rest of the bowl, preferring to go hungry than eat dog food. The next day, i got them a fresh pack of made-for-cats kibbles and they immediately dived in and ate up. How come my cats knew what I gave them wasn't cat food? I also know of dogs that won't eat cat food for the long run (not mine though, cos they're pigs and will eat anything). It would be good if a pet food manufacturer can answer this question. Is there some special ingredient you put in cat and dog food that makes cats and dogs know which kibbles is who's? Also, nowadays, dogs are eating fish too like salmon. You can't say it's the ingredient. How come they know the difference?
Mia 349 on May 27, 2014:
my cat loves sleeping especially on me and in suitcases she really loves being in this family with me my mum my twin sister and my brother and my dad!LOL!!!!kenzie please can you shut up?????
Susan Ng Yu (author) on April 01, 2014:
Thanks, Kenzie. So true... My cats prefer to hang out in a beat up cardboard box than their cat tree. :P
Kenzie Mangin on March 06, 2014:
I think that all of these ideas are super fun and work too! I don't understand why so many people buy really expensive, fancy cat toys, and then the cat doesn't even use them! A piece of string is much more effective! ;)
Newcatnow on January 27, 2014:
Thanks for this article!! I have just recently discovered playing tag/hide and seek with kitty. I run from room to room, he stalks me, then when he sees me I jump up and run away! He runs out too! I was hoping it wasn't actually terrifying for him. He seems to enjoy it, he never hisses or looks on edge. Just us running around! :)
Acb on October 12, 2013:
Wow, can't wait to try newspaper dancing with our girl, my son will be thrilled as she normally "borrows" his toys to play with. Her favorite for the last year has been a small purple foam block, she just goes nuts chasing that block all over the house and since it's square it goes in all directions which is so funny to watch!
cacat on September 27, 2013:
I do all of these already (more or less same way) and I thought this was something cat's hate :D Like the tag thing. I always prey on my cat or other way around and I always "fight" with my cat = put gloves on and touch my cat's stomach. then she gets angry and gently bites the glove and scratches (gently)
Rachyl on March 31, 2013:
Thanks for the idea about the crippled up paper because I made a new game out of it were you get a lot of crumpled up paper and you through 2 or 3 of them at a time and your cat will not know what to do but they will attack them and try to attack them all at the same time so all you need is about 22 small pieces of paper and they will go nuts
David on February 12, 2013:
I play tag with my cat, its one of our favorite games, to get her started I swat her thigh a few times and roll her around, she plays that and the mouse under the covers game she likes.
Sarah on September 09, 2012:
We tried out the newspaper dance and she loves it! Best results with sending her wind-up rolling mouse under the newspapers.
Susan Ng Yu (author) on September 08, 2012:
That's a good idea, Sarah. Thanks. :)
Sarah on September 08, 2012:
My cat loves it when I blow bubbles for her to pounce on. The first time I blew bubbles at her she ran away in fear, but the next time she made it into a game.
Lynn on May 17, 2012:
I play where is the cat kibble. I use two small cups and hide a kibble under one cup. Then I shuffle the cups around and around and place them side by side on the floor/table. The cat has to point or knock over one cup to look for the kibble. If he misses then he has to realize it is under the other cup and touch that one to earn a kibble. It was a step by step process for him to learn but he did learn to play the game.
Omg on May 09, 2012:
I am getting a new kitty And r u sure it will work????
Sean on May 08, 2012:
Be careful with string - if they swallow it can easily kill by entangling in the intestines. It's one of the major reasons why cats have to be put down early.
Susan Ng Yu (author) on April 15, 2012:
You're welcome, Samantha. I don't have a laser pointer, but I have tried those toys that light up and flash angry bird images when you turn it on. One of my cats actually jumped on the angry bird when I flashed it on the floor. It was hilarious! :D
Samantha on April 14, 2012:
Niw I can do many things to do with my cats thanks. You can also try to play laser with them
Susan Ng Yu (author) on April 10, 2012:
That's nice to hear, Goonz. Hope you have more and more good times with your cat. :)
Goonz on April 10, 2012:
Nice comments. My cat loves the hide and seek and will chase me and I chase it too. It will hide under the curtain and poke its head watching me and then will scare me with her sudden run and little 'tag' and then she will peg it.
She also loves her fishing rod and her long cuddly snake which she loves 'killing' and booting to bits with her back legs.
Her new favourite has been the cheapest, free in fact. A long piece of sellotape srunched together into a ball shape which makes a crackling noise. She just loves playing footpaw with it and loves chasing it when I flick it across the hall. I will be getting a few ping pong balls which she will love I am sure.
Its really refreshing and fun and great way to build a bond with your cat.
Skylar on March 07, 2012:
My cat LOVE'S these!
Catluva82 on February 19, 2012:
i use all of these except for the bouncing ball (our apt. has carpet). my youngest cat LOVES playing with paper balls; we play fetch because she will actually bring me a piece of paper that she's found. if i act like i don't what to play with her, she'll gently tap me on my leg or arm and meow, until i play with her! she reminds me of the dog on the movie up with the ball!
snickersanna on February 14, 2012:
thanx for the ideas!! i have tried a game that i hold up a string, and see how high my cat can jump!! LOL she LOVES chasing mice:) lots of cats like catnip, a type of mint, so i make the mice, and then i stuff catmint into them, and Atumn goes crazy. also, when she is scared, or hyper, her tail gets really fluffy, so gun to watch her!!! but she doesn't get along good with other cats:(
Cholena on January 01, 2012:
I love playing with my cat! She gets overly excited with toys, especially those little pom poms lol
kayla on December 30, 2011:
when i take a sower my cat will sit on the toliot and get the stem the ideas are great my cat loves them thank u
grace on December 26, 2011:
thnx fr new ideas...i wil surly try thm...
Susan Ng Yu (author) on December 07, 2011:
Toes and hair scrunchies. Sounds fun, Grace and Mary. :)
Mary on December 06, 2011:
Our cats absolutely love the hair scrunchies. The ones that look like a rubber band but covered in fabric..They love to bat it around the room and pounce on it...It's funny to watch because they're all over the room batting at it and following it to wherever it goes.
Grace on December 04, 2011:
My cat Bazooka (Zookie) likes to bite my toes when they stick out from under the blanket while i sleep!
Susan Ng Yu (author) on November 28, 2011:
Hi, Graciiacey. :) How long has Percy been with you? Has she already gotten comfortable in her new surroundings? Cats won't play when they are cautious and unsure. But they're also naturally curious and playful so she should warm up to playtime in the future. :)
Graciiacey on November 27, 2011:
I just got my first cat and I've been trying to find toys for it to keep entertained with. Trouble is, no matter what I try, my cat, (Percy is 1 and a female by the way)doesn't attempt to engage anything I put in front of her. I try to "teach" her how to play with the things, but for some reason she won't play. It almost seems like she doesn't know how. I love my kitty and she is a very affectionate girl and is always willing to cuddle with me though. Do you know why this may be?
meilssa on November 16, 2011:
Susan Ng Yu (author) on October 31, 2011:
I am honored to have your approval, Luci. Your human is very lucky to have you. Hehe. :) Thanks for dropping by, Zimmster. Oh yeah, one of my cats loves the scrunchy sound of that plastic seal from bottles. She bats it around and even carries it to bed with her. :)
Luci the Cat on October 30, 2011:
I told my human to look at this website, and we had a good 2 hours of play, and half an hour of me trying to get out of the bath... my human seemed to think it was funny when I kept slipping down! Anyway, thank you soooo much, I was getting so tired of playing with pipe cleaners! Anyway, must go and find my human, we're playing hide and seek!!
Zimmster on October 25, 2011:
My cats all 14 of them come running from wherever they may be in the house when they hear the opening of a new milk carton or sports drink. I pry the little plastic ring left on the container, throw it on the floor, stand back and watch the games begin. Keeps them entertained for hours and hours. How simple can it be?
Susan Ng Yu (author) on October 14, 2011:
That sounds like a lot of fun, ladyloulou. And it's free entertainment for the guests! ^_^
ladyloulou on October 14, 2011:
My cat used to love the paper bag game! One thing I always had to warn guests though - when he can see your hand he knows it's a game - when he's in the bag he can't and the claws come out! You have to be quick otherwise you will get scratched! We had wooden floors and it was quite funny to see how far the bag would slide once my cat jumped in it!
Susan Ng Yu (author) on October 11, 2011:
Hi, stylezink. :) I totally know what you mean about the crazy sounds and puffiness from excitement during playtime. One of my cats does the same. He even gets this crazed look on his face that just makes me burst out laughing all the time! Ah, the good times we have with our cats. ^_^
stylezink from Atlanta, GA. on October 11, 2011:
I really like your hub! Many people don't realize that cats can play around just like dogs. I have done everything you listed except the ping pong ball. You have my wheels turning, ha ha ha. I have the perfect long hall way that I can use to have the ball bounce like crazy! I can't wait to try it! [SERIOUSLY, aha ha!] My favorite game to play with them is hide and go seek and tag. My cats likes to chase me too! One of them makes these crazy sounds and his hair gets all puffy in from the excitement.
Susan Ng Yu (author) on October 11, 2011:
You're welcome. :) My cats are really good at hide and seek. Hehe. ^_^
someone on October 10, 2011:
thanks for the ideas my cat and i always play hide and seek around the stairs thought my cat hates watching the computer
Susan Ng Yu (author) on October 01, 2011:
That's great, Jon-Jon. :)
Jon-Jon on September 28, 2011:
I took one of the ideas here and expanded on it for my two knuckle-heads. I started with the hand under the blanket idea. Then I took some toy balls; one the has a jingle, another made of wrinkled paper, and their fave, the scrunchy ball. I put all three under the blanket. Sit back and enjoy.
Susan Ng Yu (author) on July 22, 2011:
Cool! Happy Birthday to your cats. :)
Someone Who Likes Cats on July 21, 2011:
Ilove cats. I'm having a b-day party for my two cats and I was thinking about games and stuff. Thanks!
Susan Ng Yu (author) on July 16, 2011:
Sookita sounds like a cute one, Tash. Yes, playing with your cat strengthens your bond, so she will tend to get more affectionate towards you. :)
Tash on July 15, 2011:
My cat, Sookita, often sits on top of our recliner chair, which is positioned right where everyone walks past the most, earning herself a good scratch under the chin and behind the ear every so often. Sometimes she will move her tail from side to side, and recently I invented a game for when she does this. I try to place my hand on her tail, generally missing on purpose. When I do catch it, she pulls it out of my grip, then gently hits and swats my hand with her tail, enticing me to do it again. Sometimes I feel like a kitten annoying it's mother when I play with her. Thanks for all these great games to play, she seems to also be a lot more affectionate.
Susan Ng Yu (author) on March 28, 2011:
You're right, Magicfive. My cats love playing with string, shoelace, ribbons, and even my hair sometimes when it hangs from the bed while I'm sleeping. :P But I can't leave them alone with the string as they tend to try to swallow it. :O
Thanks, Maaria. You know, I think my cats were the ones who taught me to play hide and seek with them and not the other way around. Hehe. But how about trying to lure your cat to where you're hiding with a piece of string? :)
Maaria on March 27, 2011:
Thanks for the game ideas. My cat loves it when I hide my hands under a blanket.
I just wanted to ask how you teach your cat to play hide and seek? I tried playing with my cat but she just sits there and watches me.
Shes very shy and only plays with me.
are there any ideas on how I can teach my cat to play this game?
I loved the video of your cat playing...I watched it about 5 times!!
MAGICFIVE from New York on February 17, 2011:
Sometimes I think a piece of string is the only cat toy you ever really need. My cat is OBSESSED with string...I think she's even learned the WORD string! But it's true; just taking the time to interact with your cat is so important. Not only does it provide exercise for them (and you!),but it's also a great bonding experience!
Susan Ng Yu (author) on January 28, 2011:
That's great, keira. Have fun! :)
keira on January 27, 2011:
these are great games for my kitties! Bisou and Budika will be so happy and excited to play! The newpaper dance works, we have a carpet that was knitted,so it has holes all
over it, so i'll stick my pingers in the holes and they go coo coo.
Susan Ng Yu (author) on January 11, 2011:
Boxes are indeed a treat for cats, ellie. They just can't leave them alone. Hehe.
ellie1029 on January 10, 2011:
Thanks for these i'm gonna try them all :-D my cats love to sit in boxes, the small ones sits on the top while my fatter cat sits inside and they try to get each other ^___^
Susan Ng Yu (author) on November 19, 2010:
You're lucky, my cats never bring their toys to me. I have to crawl under furniture to retrieve them at the end of play time. :) My cat Jiggy loves playing tag as well, but I have to watch him closely because he tends to bite instead of tag when over-excited. :P
Ivanna on November 18, 2010:
My cat actually brings his toys for me to throw. He fetches them right back, tries to drop it somewhere where it will take a moment for me to get it, and by that time he's in place to try to pounce at a flying toy in mid-air. Also, he loves playing tag!
Susan Ng Yu (author) on October 08, 2010:
Have fun, fizzy. :)
fizzy on October 08, 2010:
some great ideas thanx 4 that.ill be trying each and every one of them!
Susan Ng Yu (author) on August 26, 2010:
My cats love chasing string as well, Bubbles11. :) But I have to be careful to keep it after we're done playing. One of my cats ate the string one time while I wasn't looking! :O And I'll have to try that laser pointer game someday... sounds like fun. :)
Bubbles11 on August 26, 2010:
Thanks for this! My cat really likes the string idea... We played it for hours! :)It was exhausting. My kitty really likes chasing things! I also got her a laser pointer and all of my family are addicted to flashing it on and off and watching her trying to catch it lol!
lahoriamplifier from Lahore on July 31, 2010:
I love cats
Susan Ng Yu (author) on July 09, 2010:
Thanks, Cindy. Two of my cats like to do that too. Jiggy even follows the pointer arrow with his eyes and head. I've been wanting to get Da Bird for a long time now, Jared. I have a feeling my cats are going to go gaga over that. Hehe. :)
Jared on July 08, 2010:
I have a Da Bird toy and it is my cats favorite! He plays with it by himself sometimes, and will chase it all through our apartment.
Cindy Letchworth from Midwest, U.S.A. on April 05, 2010:
Good ideas. Today my kitten/cat decided he would help me type on the computer. He was determined to sit with me as I struggled to press the keyboard correctly. I made a lot of mistakes, but I did wonder at one point, if I let him use the keyboard would be make any words...it was a silly, interesting thought.
Elena on March 24, 2010:
a hair elastic gets my cat going, i usually wiggle it between my fingers to get her attention or tie it up to a string
magsbus on December 27, 2009:
thanks for the tip my cat mickey loves it !!!!!!! :-D
Susan Ng Yu (author) on December 23, 2009:
That is so cute, brightforyou! :) My cat Jiggy loves "any monster" that's under the sheets. Haha! :D
Helen Lewis from Florida on December 21, 2009:
Lovely hub. When I get home with my grocery shopping, "Elliot" jumps into the bags as I empty them and has great fun rushing from one bag to the other and 'hiding' - he's 4 months old and likes to 'help' with everything I do... which includes showering (he chases the drips down the shower door) dusting (this is a source of delight for his crazy paw dance) and his favorite is the 'finger' monster who lives under the sheets... endless hours of fun!
Susan Ng Yu (author) on September 20, 2009:
Inexpensive ones too, LRobbins. :) Hehe. Thanks. :)
Laurel from Germany on September 20, 2009:
Great ideas, thanks Susan!
Susan Ng Yu (author) on September 18, 2009:
Haha! You are so right, creditscore. :) Cats require so little to keep them happy. Wouldn't we all be happier like that? :D
creditscore on August 17, 2009:
Isn't it great that a cat's mental capacity only requires a string, a ball and a piece of yarn to keep them entertained for hours... lol... just joking.... thanks for the tips...
Laura on June 13, 2009:
crumple a thin strip of tin foil into a ball and roll it on the floor. My cat has become a very good soccer player with this game
Susan Ng Yu (author) on May 14, 2009:
Thanks, june. :) Sounds like you're talking about Da Bird, a cat toy with feathers resembling a bird at the end of a fishing rod-like pole. I hear that's quite a hit with the felines, too. :)
juneaumtbkr42 on May 14, 2009:
Thanks for the new ideas to keep me and my cat engaged; I love to play with my kitty. One fairly common instrument I use to elicite my cat's excitement is a a small cat toy (mouse or something else) tied to the end of a casting fishing rod and reel combination.
I like to gently cast the toy and watch my kitty quicly chase after the streaming projectile. My cat chatters loudly when excited by this fun.