Whether it’s the dull, cold weather of winter, or your urge to prevent your house looking like it was hit by a mudslide, that’s keeping your pooch or kitty out of the garden, knowing how to entertain and stimulate your pet when they’re kept confined is a must. Here’s Ou Kaapse Vet’s top tips for playing with your animal.
5 ways to keep your cat entertained
Cat owners, rejoice! The cat is perhaps the easiest of animals to keep entertained when they are cooped up at home. Although cats are generally pretty easy animals to care for, they do need a little extra stimulation and can’t be left to ‘fend for themselves’ as so many think they can. Be prepared to invest at least in a scratching post, so they can be mindfully redirected away from your couches and favourite furniture. Here’s our favourite ways to keep your kitty stimulated and engaged:
- Mimic prey: Any toy that mimics prey will catch your cat’s attention- and keep it. Look for dangling feather toys, felt mice and other toys that will stimulate their prey drive healthily
- Get high: Catnip provides a euphoric feeling to many cats, and adding a dab of catnip to a toy can make it 10 times more appealing. You also get catnip sprays you can use at play time to get even the oldest cat feeling young again.
- Go vertical: Cats love to climb, and you can fit some vertical climbing spots into even the most cramped space. This gets them out of your hair, gives them private space and keeps them comfortable.
- Think inside the box: Cats love boxes, so don’t think every toy has to be a pricey masterpiece- sometimes your latest shopping carton will do the trick too! The more they can explore and tunnel, the harder their mind will work.
- Pick a window: Sometimes all a kitty needs is some sun and ‘HD TV’… your garden. If you have an indoor kitty, make sure they have a comfortable spot near a window to call their own.
5 Easy tips for playing with your dog
Remember the first rule of dog care- a tired dog is a well-behaved dog! Even the smallest of breeds needs some exercise and playtime to keep them stimulated and fit as well as keep their waistline trim. Even if they can’t go outside to run it off, you can keep them happy and engaged inside.
- Take the stairs: Again and again and again. If you have a big active dog who’s missing the garden, getting them to run up and down stairs or a long hall can be a great way to burn off those calories. Be careful of young, developing dogs, dogs with long backs or known spine/joint issues, however.
- Hop on the treadmill: Yes, your dog can learn the treadmill too! While not all breeds take to this, some will love it.
- Play together: From a little training touch up making woof work for their treats, to sending the kids and dog to warm each other up throwing a ball or playing tug, engaging and having fun with your dog is the perfect way to keep them [and you] active even if it’s miserable outside.
- Get social: Set up a playdate, head to a dog-friendly restaurant- just load up the four-legged family and get out. The new sites and smells will keep Fido engaged, and you can have fun too.
- Hide and seek: Using toys like the Kong, hide treats around the house for your dog to find, or give them a toy that needs them to work out how to snag their treats from it. Hours of silent, well behaved fun await.
4 games to play with your bird
Birds need love and attention too. While smaller songbirds typically don’t need too much interaction, larger birds like cockatoos and parrots need easily as much loving as a dog or a cat. Here’s 4 fun ways you can keep your bird entertained safely indoors.
- Birdie basketball: Yes, you can teach your bird to dunk!
- Peek-a-boo: Birds love to play games of peek-a-boo, so indulge your inner child
- Sisal rope climb: A knotted sisal rope can bring hours of fun for your parrot. Teach them to climb on command for bonus points.
- Fetch: Birds can play fetch as well as dogs! Even if your bird shows no inclination to bring the toy back, rolling a ball for them is a great way to have fun together.
A good, healthy relationship with your pet starts with lots of socialisation and play. Not only will it keep them out of trouble in bad weather, but it will strengthen your bond with each other and keep you all happier too. Feel free to contact the Ou Kaapse Vet team if you have any questions about interacting safely with your pet.