Why doesn't my cat want to play?

Author picture Katy

Playing is just as important for a cat as eating and sleeping: it keeps them healthy and happy. Playing fights boredom, stimulates natural hunting instinct and maintains healthy muscles and joints. it's also great against stress and depression and reduces behavioural problems, such as scratching furniture or biting. And last but not least: playing strengthens the bond between you and your cat!

So enough reasons to play with your cat - 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 simply refuse to play with you. How is that possible? Here are 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 playfully with your kitty. Therefore, your cat might not understand what you want when you initiate a game. Also, as a cat sitter, it may be that a new guest cat needs to get used to you and therefore doesn't want to play with you just yet.

Haven't played with your cat in a while? Don't give up and try to make the game more interesting and exciting. Is your cat really not in the mood? Let the game rest for a while and just try again later. Try to consistently insert two moments of play every day and 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 interesting and entertaining. Cats love toys that look like prey: toys with feathers and fluff always do well. Shimmering and rattling toys are also popular, as are toys with catnip. A rod and string with the toy tied at the end always works perfectly. Many cats also like to chase a laser pointer, which are easy to purchase online.

Toys don't have to be expensive: a simple crumpled ball of paper, a ping pong ball or toilet roll also work wonders. And do you order products online? Hang onto the box for a while (perfect for playing hide and seek!). Read more about creating your own cat toys. 

Please note: cats often easily bored when it comes to toys. Therefore, rotate their toy regularly. Just put the toy away after a few days and bring out something else, then swap them around again later.

3. The game itself is not fun

Playing with your cat is primarily meant to simulate hunting and playing with prey. The game must be a challenge for your cat! Don't just dangle the toy right in front of their face, but always move the toy away, like real prey! Alternate with speed: fast, then slow, then fast again. And of course, let your cat succeed every now and then so that their efforts are rewarded!

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, they won't be interested. Therefore observe the routine of your cat. They usually have their 'active moment' at fixed times, which is 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, often known as the 'zoomies'. Use that energy for play time!

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

If your cat does not yet understand what your intention is and you stop before they get the hang of it, the game is probably too short. But the reverse is also possible: cats prefer to play more often (max 5 minutes) than for a single, extended period because your cat will get bored. So arrange a few short game moments throughout the day, during your cat's most 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 friendly cat sitter who really takes the time to entertain your cat.