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ANSWERED on Wed 14 Mar 2007 - 6:56 pm UTC by pinkfreud

Question: Amusing a cat

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 14 Mar 2007 17:38 UTCWed 14 Mar 2007 - 5:38 pm UTC 

Help! I need ideas for amusing a cat. This feline is driving me mad. I live alone with a large black cat for company. He's an indoor cat, has all his claws, and is generally a great pet, mellow as cats go, quite affectionate, and mostly well-behaved. But lately I've been spending a lot more time working at my desk and he's starting to become a real nuisance, letting me know he does not appreciate my long work hours, always wanting up on my lap or bothering me to play with him.

I know he needs stimulation, he's a very smart kittie, and I do try to spend some time playing with him every day, with the interactive bird, fetch the mousie and hide-and-seek with the hairball treats, but I don't want him on my lap 24/7 (hey, he weighs 15 lbs. and gets really heavy vafter awhile) nor do I have time to be constantly playing with him.

What I would like are some suggestions for simple things I can do to keep this cat amused and occupied without my constant participation, short of getting another cat to keep him company which is out of the question. I've tried putting him outside on a line but he doesn't like that. Letting him run free is also out of the question as this semi-rural area has packs of roaming dogs that have killed cats in the past and I don't want him to be next. I'm ok with spending a bit of money if necessary but nothing too expensive, like multi-hundreds of dollars for a climbing tree or such.

Help? Anybody?  




 14 Mar 2007 18:56 UTCWed 14 Mar 2007 - 6:56 pm UTC 

Howdy, byrd!

As the grateful underling of a passel o' pussycats, I have often had the experience of having to fend off cats who are in need of entertainment when I have other things to do. Some of the fuzzy little guys don't seem to be able to find ways to keep their minds alive, and the only thought on their mind is "I'll go pester Mama."

A few months ago, we took in two abandoned kittens and bottle-fed them. The kitties are adolescent now, and they want to be with us constantly. This isn't do-able, since both my husband and I are involved in at-home business endeavors. Here are some things that have worked as feline distractions in my household.


Get an Aquarium or Rodentarium

Cats are endlessly obsessed with the motions of potential prey, even if that prey cannot be obtained. We used to have, in addition to our feline gang, a large collection of domesticated rodents (rats, mice, and gerbils). An appropriately equipped aquarium with a screen-mesh lid makes a nice rodent home, and cats can view the little critters to their heart's content.

You might think this would make the rodents very neurotic, but, in our experience, that was not the case. Apparently, on their multigenerational way to the pet shop, small rodents have had the fear of predators bred out of them. We had one rat who was actually attracted to the cats, and would poke her little paws through the mesh trying to play with them! The cats, of course, tried to bite off her toes. Fortunately, they failed, and we got a lid with finer mesh.

The best rodent entertainment, in my view, is mice. They are typically friskier and faster-moving than other rodents, and a cage with even a single mouse will be watched with delight by a cat for hours on end. We used to call the mouse cage MTV - Mouse Television. And there are no commercials!

I have heard that an aquarium works well as a cat entertainment device, too, but I have no personal experience with this. I don't recommend keeping caged birds for this purpose, since birds are unnerved and alarmed by cats, and it wouldn't be fair to the birds to expose them to that kind of stress.


Video Entertainment for Cats!

This may sound like a joke, but there really are videos that are designed for entertaining housebound cats. One of our veterinarians uses such a video, "KittyShow: The Birds," in her boarding kennel, and we've had great success with a couple of cat-oriented videos, "Mewvie: Backyard Buffet" and "Video Catnip." These are not the only such videos on the market, but I can give a personal testimonial to their entertainment value. The kitties just love 'em. Over and over and over. You'd think that the sight of the same birds doing the same things would lose appeal after a dozen replays, but apparently cats are like little kids: repetition just deepens the fascination.

KittyShow: The Birds

Mewvie: Backyard Buffet

Video Catnip

Another video suggestion: if you are able to get the Animal Planet channel, just leave a TV tuned to it (with the volume turned down, if desired). One of our cats, Miss PittyPat, will sit all day watching animal programs. PittyPat says that she wants a polar bear for Christmas. I haven't had the heart to break the news that real polar bears are a lot bigger than the hamster-sized images she has seen on the telly.


The Animal Sounds Babble Ball is an eerie little toy that makes various animal noises when approached. It's not loud enough to be annoying to humans, but it intrigues cats immensely (dogs, too):

"The Babble Balls are interactive toys that talk or make exciting animal sounds when touched. The improved technology is so sensitive it can be triggered by a pet breathing on it, or just by the vibration of a pet walking past it. When play is finished, the Babble Ball turns off automatically and waits to be touched again. Pets think it's actually alive!...

Animal Sounds Babble Balls®
More than 20 different realistic animal sounds; lion, frogs, coyote howl, lots of birds, dog barking, pigs, rooster, lamb, elephant, cow, goat, a cat, and more."

Animal Sounds Babble Ball


Here are two other noise-enhanced balls that both cats and dogs can enjoy:

Petco: Multipet Wiggly Giggly Balls

Amazon: Boingo Ball


Some good articles about boredom in cats:

PetSmart: Relieving Boredom for Dogs & Cats

PetSmart: How to Prevent Feline Boredom

VeterinaryPartner: Ease the Boredom for Indoor Cats

Petfinder: Beating Boredom

Drs Foster and Smith: Cat Boredom Busters


I hope this helps you to find some ways to keep kitty happily occupied while you are busy. A contented, well-entertained cat means less shredded furniture, fewer litterpan boycotts, and a reduction in the volume level of "howling in the hallway" concerts. ;-)





 14 Mar 2007 19:08 UTCWed 14 Mar 2007 - 7:08 pm UTC 

I was sent a video recently which showed a cat who occupied itself for hours by flushing the toilet and watching the water flow down into the bowl.

Unfortunately, the owner was on a metered supply and was horrified by the cost.

Maybe a water fountain of some sort would keep your feline amused?

Of course, cats are notoriously fascinated by Byrds and possibly changing your name to Great Eagle or to some other predator might also have a salutary effect?





 14 Mar 2007 19:23 UTCWed 14 Mar 2007 - 7:23 pm UTC 

Wow, thank you so much, Pinkfreud! It's obvious you've been in my shoes and know what you're talking about. Who but a highly experienced cat mama would know about those hallway concerts :-) or have so many good suggestions?! I am definitely going to try out as many as I can. What a great variety - much more than I expected. Thanks!

Probo, I saw that same video. I could definitely see my cat doing such a thing, but so far he hasn't taught himself how, probably a good thing for my water bill too. The water fountain's a good idea though, thanks. He does like water - I have to tape his water dish to the floor to prevent him tipping it over and dumping it out as soon as I refill it ....   :-)




 14 Mar 2007 19:31 UTCWed 14 Mar 2007 - 7:31 pm UTC 

Forgot to mention I'm cogitating on that name change. I see your point and will take the idea under advisement, but then again I don't want poor Mr. Kitty Cat to run every time he sees me either. ;-)




 14 Mar 2007 19:36 UTCWed 14 Mar 2007 - 7:36 pm UTC 

Thank you very much for the tip!



Emily Moore 


 14 Mar 2007 21:04 UTCWed 14 Mar 2007 - 9:04 pm UTC 


Da Bird! http://www.go-cat.com/order.htm

"Da Bird™ consists of a 36" fiberglass rod, [36"] 50 lb. test braided nylon string and aerodynamically configured feathers that mimic the action of a REAL bird in flight."

It REALLY does sound like a bird in flight.  It is the most awesome idea - the feathery part is connected to a fishing lure sinner-mechanism so it spins as it's pulled through the air. And the 36" string with the 36" pole makes it able to fly far away from the holder when pulling it through the air.

When I'm not using it, I stick the pole in the couch cushions so that the bird hangs down the back or side of the couch, almost to the floor. My cat has a ball playing with it that way.  It is my cat's favorite toy.  But be sure to buy a good supply of replacements. lol

When it gets worn, I take it off and let her use just the tattered feather part to bat around. Also, I have used these flutter balls http://www.amazon.com/Worldwise-Smarty-Flutter-Balls-Toys/dp/B000634CX2 as replacements and as floor toys. 

The feather parts are attached to the balls with velcro so I just remove the feather part from the ball and squeeze it around the Da Bird spinner.(pack of 3 flutter balls are $3.97 at Wal-Mart compared with $3.99 per Da Bird single replacement).

Hope this helps.

Best regards,

Best regards,




 15 Mar 2007 14:24 UTCThu 15 Mar 2007 - 2:24 pm UTC 

Thank you for the comment, journalist! Actually we already have "Da Bird" (can't remember where I first heard about it). It is a great toy and Mr. Kitty Cat absolutely loves it too - though we really prefer the Wal Mart version with the quick-release snap on the elastic string - makes him feel more like he's really caught something when he finally gets it. But he'd like nothing better than to play "bird" half the day which is part of the problem, since I don't have the time ... But I never thought of anchoring it somewhere, or using those flutter balls, so thank you very much for the additional ideas. Going to try those out today! 

Cheers, Byrd


Emily Moore 


 15 Mar 2007 21:15 UTCThu 15 Mar 2007 - 9:15 pm UTC 

Glad you have Da Bird!

If you see one of those door frame mouse toys at Wal-Mart, try one of those also. Wal-Mart has them for $1.99, and they consist of a wire form that hooks around the top of a door frame, leaving a furry mouse at the end of an elastic cord that hangs about three inches from the floor.  It has that snap-back surprise for my cat, and she really loves them, too.

However, slide them to the top side of the door before going to bed or you'll get one heck of a surprise if you get tangled in one on a midnight water run. lol

Best regards,




 15 Mar 2007 21:35 UTCThu 15 Mar 2007 - 9:35 pm UTC 

If all else fails, you might try drugs...

Kitty Weed Cat Toy




 16 Mar 2007 15:29 UTCFri 16 Mar 2007 - 3:29 pm UTC 

Hi Byrd...

I have a big 15 pound cat, Albert, who can be a real pest too.

I also have an acquarium. When I first got it a couple of years ago, Albert was thoroughly intriqued. He would swipe at the glass, make gurgling sounds and jump up and down. Lately, however, he seems bored of the whole thing.

He doesn't play with any of the thousands of toys I've bought him either, although the Babble Ball looks fascinating.

Albert seems to prefer annoying me to any of the other countless activities he has at his disposal :( His favourite seems to be to pounce from under furniture causing me to almost trip over him......

Hope your kitty plays with his new stuff.





 16 Mar 2007 19:40 UTCFri 16 Mar 2007 - 7:40 pm UTC 

My cat enjoys The Byrds, especially "Eight Miles High" (despite the obvious drug references) as well as The Yardbirds (mostly the Beck/Page, post-Clapton stuff like "Train Kept A-Rollin'"). Yours might like such entertainment as well but excessive catnip use may become too much to put up with. My little fuzzball grows his own now-- it's much cheaper.




 17 Mar 2007 16:29 UTCSat 17 Mar 2007 - 4:29 pm UTC 

Wow, I didn't know all these additional comments were here. I'm glad I checked back!  What great comments everybody, thank you so much. Still waiting for my babble ball/dvd shipment, and have been reading the other various links here and there as I get a few moments, trying out some of the suggestions. Hiding the daily rations in various places has been kind of fun ...

One good one I found on my own while looking at Wal Mart the other day for a toy to clamp on the doorway (thanks, journalist, found it, he likes it!). Came across a four-dollar scratching thingie in a box. Looks like just layers of corrugated cardboard glued together and comes liberally sprinkled with catnip which you're supposed to rub into it in view of the cat before putting it down. Oh my! He loves the thing!

I'm also going to try to cycle his toys. How could I have forgotten? I used to do that with my human kids when they were small. Something that's been put away for a few weeks looks brand-new when brought out again! Carmen, maybe you could try that with some of your cat's toys?  Boy I hear you about that tripping over the cat .... I'm scared to death one of these days I'm going to break his back when he gets under/between my feet the way he does!

Drugs? LOL! I haven't crocheted anything in years, but I may have to give that a try if I can find my crochet hooks. But even if my cat doesn't like the toy, the picture on that page made me laugh out loud!  Thanks, Pink! And speaking of years, I think I might actually have an old cassette tape or two of the Byrds put away in a box somewhere. I'll have to go digging around and see if I can find that. Anything's worth a try - ya just never know so thanks for that idea, Mark.

Maybe people will keep adding to this question. Who knows, it might turn into an encyclopedia of cat entertainment .... at any rate, this cat mama is getting properly trained now thanks to all the great ideas!  :-)





 18 Mar 2007 21:16 UTCSun 18 Mar 2007 - 9:16 pm UTC 

Since you asked, I once knew a cat that found it very amusing to tease the small dog that belong to the roommate of the cat owner.
But I don't suppose you want to increase your managerie  - and the dog wasn't amused at all.




 19 Mar 2007 16:12 UTCMon 19 Mar 2007 - 4:12 pm UTC 

No no, I'm sure the dog didn' find it amusing at all. My sister (who is an over-the-road truck driver) occasionally finds her way here to stop for a few hours or sometimes overnight. She travels with a Pug dog who thinks anything on four legs is a potential playmate. Unfortunately the cat does NOT share that opinion, and stalks and chases the poor Pug, with claws a-slash at every opportunity. We bought a pair of doggles for the dog to protect her poor bulging eyes but she won't keep them on. My sister's next idea has something to do with cutting up a basketball for the dog's head .... so no, I don't suppose I'd better be getting any small dogs. But thanks just the same.   :-) 




 20 Jun 2007 15:08 UTCWed 20 Jun 2007 - 3:08 pm UTC 

Update: I'm still using many of these great suggestions, but I happened to come across another one I just have to share. Actually it wasn't really my idea. My youngest son, who is the owner of two cats, had mentioned it some time ago but I never really did anything about it 'til this past weekend. I was at a local flea market type of event and happened to see these cheap little flashlight/laser pointers for sale, 1 for $3 or 2/$5. Since my granddaughter wanted one, my frugal self decided to get the bargain deal and so I brought one home to experiment with.

Well, let me tell you, my cat is nutty over the thing! At first he was afraid of it, which was pretty funny all by iself. But now he begs for that little red dot to chase. I'm sure he doesn't quite understand the physics of it, but he definitely knows it has something to do with this little 2-inch long silver tube and that I have to participate lol! When I pick it up he starts positively twitching all over in anticipation. Amazing. I can sit in my chair in perfect comfort and watch my fat feline run about like a mad cat, chasing that dot all over the house and even up the walls. What fun! What a great toy!!   :-)




 20 Jun 2007 17:33 UTCWed 20 Jun 2007 - 5:33 pm UTC 

Quick, quick, quick!  Make up a good name for it and design repackaging for just this purpose  - and get design protection -  and make or sell it!

I have one of those that came with two or three lenses (don't tell me that laser beams can't be "lensed"), maybe a heart and something(s) else, so maybe you can discover something else that will work for dogs:  the virtual bone or stick ....

Probo is continually looking for an opportunity to be the British representative for things to sell (and  - I expect -  that he is just the person to flog them to women  - sorry, ladies -  with cats.
Ask Carmen.





 21 Jun 2007 05:43 UTCThu 21 Jun 2007 - 5:43 am UTC 

Not a lot of money in them, it seems-- http://cgi.ebay.com/CAT-TOY-Laser-Pointer-w-42-dif-heads-NEAT-FUN_W0QQitemZ7771496488QQihZ018QQcategoryZ20741QQtcZphotoQQcmdZViewItem?refid=store

I am sorry I didn't mention a laser pointer. I have one of those LED flashlighs with a laser pointer built in; you click once for light, twice for the pointer, third time turns it off. One of my cats is ballistic about it and knows the "click" noise the button makes and comes barreling in from wherever she is-- even outside!

Remember, cats are not aerobic exercisers. Just a couple of minutes is enough for them, not more than four or five. You can do this several times a day, but limit the time-- though a tuckered-out kitty will usually just stop.




 25 Oct 2007 12:16 UTCThu 25 Oct 2007 - 12:16 pm UTC 

As the willing servant of Bruce, my 5.5kg bloke cat, I too have the issue of trying to do proofreading and writing at times when Bruce would have me do otherwise. He walks all over the keyboard and knocks things off my desk, then smooches up and head butts me. All very lovely and funny but not conducive to work. One thing that works incredibly well is not so much giving him something to do, but rather, setting him up for a snooze. I fold one of his blankets on my desk and switch on the desk lamp nearby and Bruce is like a moth to the flame. He jumps up and quickly settles down under the cozy warmth of the lamp and he sleeps soundly, occasionally snoring. It's a very peaceful environment to work in. Of course, I'm very careful to turn off the light so that I don't singe Bruce, and because he's a big boy, I do try and make sure that he also gets exercise too.




 10 Dec 2007 18:41 UTCMon 10 Dec 2007 - 6:41 pm UTC 

1. Get a second cat. Has always (well only two pair in 20 years) worked for us.
2. Japanese Kotatsu. Similar to the light/blanket thing, but designed for the specific purpose of warming your legs when dining (Most beneficial in cold damp climes. I'd recommend them to anyone.) Ebay has tons.
3. Put the laser pointer on a string, hang it nearby, and just whack it every so often until the cat poops out.
4. Be thankful you have a loving cat.


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