Whether you’ve got a cat who loves playing fetch or one who prefers cardboard box hide and seek, this International Cat Day (8th August), Pets at Home shares their expert advice on how to make sure playtime really is the cats’ whiskers. With research from Pets at Home revealing 46% of pet owners are most proud of their cat’s personalityi, coupled with a growing trend for indoor cats in the UKii, here’s how to match your furry friend’s playtime to their interests and keep boredom at bay.  

Identify HOW your cat likes to play 

According to the cat charity International Cat Care, there are different types of play – working out what your cat prefers means you can tailor your games accordingly. 


  • ONE IS FUN: Self-play alone: This is usually your cat running around the house by themselves.  
  • CAT’CH ME IF YOU CAN: Self-play with a toy and interactive play with other cats: They may enjoy being chased or pretend play fighting with another cat. 
  • COME PLAY WITH ME: Interactive play with humans: This could involve fetch-based games or wand toys. 
  • ADVENTURE TIME: Explore, search and forage play: Anything from cardboard boxes, cat activity centres, cupboards and bags, to bring out their inquisitive side. 

Know the difference between playtime vs. prey time 

It may come as a surprise, but cats perceive playing with toys as ‘object play’ not ‘social play’. Humans are purely the ‘batteries’ to move that toy. But when you consider cats are solitary hunters, they can find it hard to differentiate between playtime and hunting, so pet owners can end up getting bitten or scratched.  

Karlien Heyrman, Head of Pets at Pets at Home, and owner of 12-year-old Maine Coon cat Wolfie says: “Use a wand toy as the long handle makes this kind of pet play safe. A lot of people bounce it up and down or swing it towards the cat’s face, which is very different to how a mouse or a bird would react in real life. Instead, use the wand toy to mimic prey such as scuttling it across the ground or sweeping it through the air.” 

Read the signs your cat is ready to play 

Below are the key signals your cat may give that show they want and are happy to play: 

  • They play spontaneously with random objects. 
  • They make sudden movements. 
  • Their pupils dilate and ears go flat. 
  • They freeze or go into a crouching position. 
  • They make louder noises than usual. 

Karlien Heyrman, Head of Pets at Pets at Home, continues: “Playtime is essential for your kitten’s healthy development and helps keep older cats mentally alert and physically fit. How you play with your cat, and the toys you choose to play with, can have a real impact on your pet’s enjoyment of playtime. A lot of people fear getting hurt or worry their cat is too old to play, but playing with your cat is safe and beneficial at any age, if you approach it in the right way. In addition, if you have an indoor cat you need to make sure your home is set up so they get the same level of stimulation as they would if they were outside.” 

Keep your cat entertained all day with the fantastic selection of cat toys at Pets at Home, ranging from catnip balls to dangling tassels and feathers. Jump, run, fetch, and pounce with your cat as you treat them to a new addition to their toy box providing hours of fun for both of you! 

Go Cat Feather Toys Da Bird Teaser Cat Toy, £8.00 


Pets at Home Catnip Squeak  Bird Cat Toy, £3.50 


Pets at Home Rattling Ball with Bell Cat Toy Assorted, £1.00  



You can find the full conversation with Karlien in the latest version of Pets at Home Pets magazine, available in store.