Why doesn't my cat want to play?

Author picture Marte

Playing is just as important for a cat as eating and sleeping: it keeps him healthy. Playing is fighting boredom, it stimulates his natural hunting instinct, it makes your cats muscles and joints healthy, it's great against stress and depression and playing reduces behavioral problems. And last but not least: by playing you strengthen the bond between you and your cat!

So enough reasons to play with your cat, but not every cat seems to be up for it. Sometimes they even seem totally uninterested! And if you're a cat sitter, you have probably noticed that some of your guest cats refuse to play with you. How is that possible? 5 reasons why your cat doesn't want to play + the solution!

1. You haven't played in a while

First of all: kudos that you want to play more with your cat. But maybe it's been a while since you really interacted with your kitty. Therefore, your cat might not understand what you want from him. Also as a cat sitter it may be that a new host cat needs to get used to you and therefore doesn't want to play with you yet.

Haven't you played with your cat for a long time? Don't give up too quickly and try to make the game attractive. Is your cat really not in the mood? Let the game rest for a while and just try again later. Try to consistently insert 2 play moments every day, then your cat will get the hang of it soon enough.

2. The toy isn't fun enough

Try to find out which toys your cat finds attractive. Cats love toys that look like a prey: things with feathers and hair always do well. Shimmering and rattling toys are also popular, just like toys with catnip. A fishing rod always works perfectly. Furthermore, many cats also like to chase a laser pointer.

Toys don't have to be expensive: a simple wad of paper, a ping pong ball or toilet roll also works wonders. And did you order something on the internet? Just leave the box in the house for a while. Perfect for playing hide and seek! Read more about creating your own cat toys. 

Please note: cats are easily bored when it comes to toys. Therefore, change the toy regularly. Just put it away after a few days and bring it out again later, then it will remain interesting.

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3. The game itself is not fun

Playing with your cat is primarily meant to simulate hunting and playing with a prey. The game must be a challenge for your cat! Don't just dangle the toy right in front of his face, but always move the toy or the fishing rod away from him, like a real prey! Also alternate with speed: then slowly again, then quickly again. And of course, let your cat succeed every now and then so that he is rewarded for his effort!

4. It is the wrong time

A cat sleeps an average of 18 hours a day and a large part of that time is during the day. If you try to play during those dormant moments, he won't be interested. Therefore observe the routine of your cat. Usually they have their 'active moment' at fixed times: a remnant of their natural hunting instinct. Early in the morning and early in the evening many cats suddenly wake up and have their 'crazy 15 minutes'. Use that energy for play time!

5. The game takes too much time... or too little

If your cat does not yet understand what the intention is and you stop before he realizes it, the game probably takes too short. But the reverse is also possible: cats prefer to play more often one day shorter (max 5 minutes) than one time long, because that will get bored. So build a few short game moments throughout the day, during its active times.

A cat sitter to play with your cat

Do you have to leave the house a lot? Sometimes you just might be worried that your cat doesn't cat enough play time. Book a sweet cat sitter who really takes the time to challenge your cat.