Cat play and toys

Domestic cats, especially young kittens, are known for their love of play. This behavior mimics hunting and is important in helping kittens learn to stalk, capture, and kill prey.[142] Cats will also engage in play fighting, with each other and with humans. This behavior may be a way for cats to practice the skills needed for real combat, and might also reduce any fear they associate with launching attacks on other animals.[143] Owing to the close similarity between play and hunting, cats prefer to play with objects that resemble prey, such as small furry toys that move rapidly, but rapidly lose interest (they become habituated) in a toy they have played with before.[144] Cats also tend to play with toys more when they are hungry.[145] String is often used as a toy, but if it is eaten it can become caught at the base of the cat's tongue and then move into the intestines, a medical emergency which can cause serious illness, even death.[146] Owing to the risks posed by cats eating string, it is sometimes replaced with a laser pointer's dot, which cats may chase.[147] While concerns have been raised about the safety of these lasers, John Marshall, an ophthalmologist at St Thomas' Hospital, has stated that it would be "virtually impossible" to blind a cat with a laser pointer. Cat play and toys incorporates predatory games of "play aggression". Cats' behaviors when playing are those similar to hunting behavior. These activities allow kittens and younger cats to grow and acquire cognitive and motor skills, and to socialize with other cats. Cat play behavior can be either solitary (with toys or other objects) or social (with animals and people). They can play with a multitude of toys ranging from strings, to small furry toys resembling what would be prey (e.g. m ce) to plastic bags. Predation Predation Since cats are meat-eating predators, nearly all cat games are predatory games.[2] Prey is fearful of predators. Predators often encounter prey that attempt to escape predation. Prey that moves towards the cat with confidence may be exhibiting an aggressive defensive posture. Cats often play with toys that behave more like fearful prey trying to escape than toys that mimic a more confrontational prey. [edit]Success rate Success rate is important in play. A cat that catches its prey every time soon gets bored, and a cat that never gets it just loses interest. The ideal hunting success rate is around 1 in 3 to 1 in 6. Capturing prey at this rate generally maximises a cat's interest in the game.[3] [edit]Precautions Play is about predation, and a highly excited cat can cause minor injuries in the excitement of the moment. With most cats, it is wise to keep playthings at least 20 cm (8") away from fingers or eyes, and avoid encouraging a cat to eat inedible toys. If playing with the bare hands, a cat will generally resist using its claws or biting too hard, but a cat that becomes extremely excited may accidentally inflict injuries to its human playmate in the form of light scratches or small puncture wounds from biting too hard. Cats' claws and mouths can contain bacteria that can lead to infection, so it is wise to clean and treat any wounds with an antiseptic solution and seek professional medical services if there is belief that the wound has become infected. [edit]Food Catching and eating are two closely related but separate activities. Domestic cats often store caught food for eating later. Eating happens when the game is over, so incorporating food into hunting games tends to end the interest in play.