If your cat suddenly lost interest in playing see the vet. If your cat is healthy, include yourself in playtime. Cats prefer human interaction!
Friends, family members, clients, and you have all said to me, “my cat isn’t interested in playing”.
Then I get those cats to play, and they say…
“He never plays with me like that!”
All cats love to play. They are natural-born hunters!
We just need the right toys and attitude.
Here’s how to get your cat interested in playing:
- Vet check
- Stress check
- Use healthy treats
- Get engaging toys
- Make playtime a routine
- Be patient
- Be persistent
- Get creative and have fun
- Provide enrichment
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1. Vet check
If your cat wants to play but won’t or stopped playing suddenly, you should see the vet.
Cats need routine in their lives to feel safe and comfortable.
They like predictability and doing the same rituals every day.
Any changes in behavior could mean something is off. Cats will not tell us they are sick or in pain.
So we need to use these clues.
Clear up any potential medical issues with your vet first.
Overweight and obese cats may have a difficult time playing because they are in pain.
Over 50% of cats in the US are overweight or obese (2021 data).
Overweight cats are at a higher risk for:
- Breathing issues
- Fatty liver disease
- Feline lower urinary tract disease
- Shortened lives
So chances are your cat won’t play because he doesn’t feel good.
Harsh truth I know. But think about it like this…
Do you want to run around and play when you don’t feel well?
A healthy diet is necessary for overweight cats.
We are what we eat. Exercise and feeding less kibble will not make your cat lose weight properly.
Check out my cat weight loss program to help your cat lose weight safely.
Your cat should start to feel better and have more energy once he’s eating good-quality, high-moisture food.
2. Stress check
If your cat is healthy, but won’t play, evaluate your home routines.
Cats get stressed easily. Especially when it comes to change.
Think about it like this…
You live outside and have to fight for your survival.
You’d want your day to be predictable, right?
Our cats have natural instincts. Even if they have never been outside.
Keep your daily routines the same. Don’t move furniture or your cat’s litter box.
Cats prefer consistency in their lives.
3. Use healthy treats
Healthy treats can be a great way to get your cat to play.
You can use healthy treats as a reward for playtime.
This will help your cat associate playtime with a positive and yummy experience.
Only feed treats that have one ingredient: meat.
Cat “dental” treats are loaded with carbs and questionable ingredients.
They are bad for cat dental health, and they will make your cat gain unnecessary weight.
Which cat treats are healthy?
Healthy cat treats are made with muscle meats and organs. They are freeze-dried or dehydrated.
Where to buy healthy cat treats
Use the buttons below. I’ve created lists and shopping guides for each storefront.
Use code save10 for 10% off Dr. Becker’s Bites.
Check out healthy cat treat brands list for more options.
Healthy cat treats will engage your cat and keep unnecessary weight off.
Want to learn how to go from commercial food to homemade raw meaty bones from an inspurrational Faith-driven cat nutritionist?
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4. Get engaging toys
These toys engage your cat immediately and keep him wanting more playtime.
Cats are finicky so get cat toys that are interesting and engaging.
- Think about what your cat would hunt outside: birds, snakes, bugs, and small mammals
- Toys should mimic prey in appearance, sound, and movement
- Keep this in mind when buying toys and while playing
Buy cat toys that have feathers like birds, chirp like a mouse, or look like small bugs.
Check out shopping guides and Jericho’s favorite cat toys below!
Where to buy cat toys
Use the buttons below to visit my favorites lists on each storefront.
Jericho’s favorite cat toys
Ripple Rug available on:
Ripple Rug’s official website offers additional color options, and they can ship to most parts of the world.
Jericho’s favorites on Etsy:
Jericho’s favorites above are all made with natural materials.
Check out eco-friendly lazy cat toys if you need more details.
You could also DIY toilet paper roll toys in a pinch. But I don’t recommend this long-term because some TP companies use chemical glue on their rolls.
There are a few creative ways to play with your cat without toys. Not using your hands! Watch the video below.
These cat toys keep cats interested in play because they are made with natural materials. Natural materials attract your cat immediately.
5. Make playtime a routine
Cats prefer routine and predictability in their lives because it makes them feel safe.
Again, imagine that you lived outside. You’d want your day to be predictable, right?
If your cat sleeps all day then that’s what he wants to do because that is the current routine in place.
- Routines make cats feel safe and comfortable
- Cats like predictability in their lives
- Make playtime a routine and your cat will expect it
It will be tough to break this routine. But once you do your cat will expect playtime.
Stay consistent and keep your routines in place.
Need a centralized place to keep track of everything related to your cat? Grab my Cat Care Binder Bundle!
Cats need a consistent routine to feel safe. Make playtime a routine, and your cat will expect it.
6. Be patient
Your cat won’t be happy about breaking a routine so make sure you are patient in this process.
It’s important to be patient. You should both be excited about playtime as a routine.
- Start with 1 minute of playtime
- Increase by a few minutes each day or every few days
- Work toward 30 minutes of playtime daily
- Break it up into 3-4 sessions per day
Do what works best for you and your cat.
Take a break when your cat gets tired.
Being patient pays off. You should both be excited about playtime.
7. Be persistent
Some people tell me they try and try to play, but the cat doesn’t want to play.
Well… you need to keep trying.
Wild cats don’t jump at the first sight of prey.
- Cats study prey behavior
- They pounce at the right moment
- Cats conserve energy for hunting
- Every moment counts
Cats conserve their energy for hunting. The indoor version of hunting is playing. We need to keep that in mind during playtime.
Watch a video of wild cats hunting. Seriously! They take their time.
Sometimes I’ll wave the wand around for 10 minutes before Jericho shows interest.
Cats save energy for hunting. Be persistent. Cats only pounce at the right moment.
8. Get creative and have fun
If your cat still isn’t interested in playing then get creative!
Mimicking prey movements is a sure way to get your cat interested in playing.
Jericho gets bored easily because he used to live outside. I have to get creative every day to get my cat to play.
- Rotate toys and pay attention to what your cat likes
- Watch your cat’s pupils – he’s interested when they dilate
- Tease toys around and under furniture, doors, Ripple Rugs, or blankets to mimic prey movement
- Think of different ways to use the toys
- Slide the toy across the room to make your cat chase it
- Slide the toy under a piece of furniture so your cat has to figure out how to get it out
- Bounce the toy so your cat can catch it
- Throw it across the room so your cat can chase it
- DIY whack-a-mole toy
Note: Always keep a safe playtime. Cats get tangled and swallow things easily.
Put these toys away when you cannot supervise playtime.
Have fun playing with your cat!
Don’t think of playtime as a chore.
Playing with your cat should be fun for both of you.
Jericho makes me laugh every day. Cats are hilarious when they play!
Getting creative with cat toys will help your cat get interested in playing. This is a fun challenge for both of you.
9. Provide enrichment
Cats need enrichment to feel comfortable at home and in their territory.
Your cat will not play with you if he doesn’t feel comfortable in his territory.
Yes, your cat sees your home as his territory.
Cat enrichment needs:
- Hunting (aka playing)
Playing is the indoor version of hunting. And enrichment is the indoor version of wild stimulation.
All cats scratch to shed dead layers of their claws, relieve stress, and mark their territory.
Buy high-quality scratching posts built to last:
Those are more expensive. But just remember you get what you pay for.
A cheap scratching post is better than no scratching post!
Or you can upcycle your frayed scratching post with carpet instead.
Don’t forget to teach your cat how to use it!
Jericho’s favorite enrichment
The Cat Ladder is his favorite cat tree. Your cat can climb, perch, rest, and scratch.
It’s great for apartments. And you can stick it to the window for added entertainment.
Jericho also loves his window perch. Cats love to window watch, and it doesn’t take up any floor space!
Is it normal for my cat to not want to play?
No, it is not normal for your cat to not want to play. All cats are natural-born hunters that love to play. Playing is great for exercise and mental stimulation. Check with your vet, upgrade his food, and create playtime routines to get your cat to want to play.
How do I get my cat interested in playing?
Get your cat interested in playing by including yourself! Start with interactive wand toys or the cat dancer. Make a routine out of it, and your cat will expect it. And remember, have fun!
How do you get a lazy cat to play?
Your cat may be lazy because he’s overweight. Obese cats have trouble getting active because they’re uncomfortable. Transition to better quality cat food and change your routines so your lazy cat feels better about playing.
How long should you play with your cat?
You should play with your cat for at least 30 minutes daily. And you should break this up into multiple play sessions based on what your cat wants. For example, you could play for 10 minutes before your cat eats breakfast, play for 10 minutes when you get home from work, and play for 10 minutes before you go to bed.
When do cats stop playing?
Cats typically stop playing when they are uncomfortable. It’s difficult to play when you’re overweight, obese, or sick. If your cat is healthy, he should continue to play for the rest of his life. My 17-year-old cat loved to play with bug wand toys.
Final thoughts on “my cat isn’t interested in playing”
This is one of my favorite phrases.
I’ve heard this phrase many times from friends, family, clients, and comments from you!
But then I start to play with the cats, and my friends and clients say, “He doesn’t play with me like that”.
All cats love to play. We just need the right tools and some patience.
Buy high-quality, natural toys that look and feel like prey.
Mimic prey movements, be persistent, and get creative.
Make playtime a routine, practice a safe playtime, and have fun.
Ready to upgrade your cat’s food? My Switch to Raw Blueprint video course provides everything you need to go from low-quality dry/wet food to a healthy, fresh, raw diet!