Suggestions for toys etc. to get lazy picky 8yo cat to play?
February 17, 2022 11:43 AM   Subscribe

Fat lazy kitty owners, what has worked for your lil lump to get moving again?

Phryne is our 8yo tabby, and she's a lazy lump.

She went to the vet yesterday and we were told she should lose weight. She doesn't eat very much (~130 kcal a day tops, vet says that's ideal for her) but she also doesn't do very much. We try to get her to play with toys but it's hard to get her to engage. It feels like she knows we're trying to make her do something and she's like "nice try idiots." She's quite smart. If she realizes we're behind the laser she'll basically do the cat version of rolling her eyes and walk away.

Some specifics:

She used to love running and chasing a ball when she was younger but not so much anymore.

She usually won't play with something if her little bro, who is very active, is also playing with it.

She likes catnip! She has a catnip banana she lays around with sometimes. It doesn't really encourage her to do anything though.

The only activity she really loves is messing with the sheets when we're trying to make the bed. I wonder if there's a toy that mimics that?

Any ideas? Thanks!
posted by moons in june to Pets & Animals (18 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: If she likes messing around with sheets, could you just...take a sheet or blanket and play around with it in the living room, "pretending" to make the couch up?

Given your description of sheets, maybe she would enjoy a Ripple Rug? My cat loves the purrpeller, something about the fluttery motion and noise it makes she can't resist. She likes to have the noises happen out of her field of vision, and she likes to hunch in the ripple rug waiting for the right moment to pounce.
posted by foxfirefey at 11:56 AM on February 17, 2022 [3 favorites]

I would try a wide variety of toys--sometimes cats really need the novelty. Also, I don't know why, but some of the brand name toys seem to have a special something that cats love. In particular, I recommend Go Cat Da Bird and the Cat Dancer. If your cat doesn't care about feathers, get one of Go Cat's other lures, some of which look disturbingly real. They have lots of interesting textures and real leather and cats love to chew on them. What kind of hunter is she? Does she like fast slithering? Hiding and pouncing? Stalking?

re: the sheets, maybe a toy like this would be fun. It's not as active as some others but might whet her appetite, so to speak.

If she likes flying stuff, this might entertain for a while.
posted by purple_bird at 11:58 AM on February 17, 2022 [1 favorite]

I lived with a cat that didn't give a crap about lasers or strings or catnip. Valerian and to a lesser extent burdock did excite them. And videos of birds with loud bird sounds. I turned an old laptop into a random bird video player. I'm not sure it provided exercise, but it was fascinating. Very, very light toys also sometimes worked. Tiny styrofoam balls and tinsel and such. Best of luck.
posted by eotvos at 12:42 PM on February 17, 2022 [1 favorite]

Paper bags? I've had a couple kitties over the years where you casually drop a bag on the floor and they'll attack it, hide in it, wrestle it, chew on it, stalk it, and so on.

My current cat has never had a use for proper cat toys but loves batting around balls of tinfoil. Lightweight, shiny, crinkly, all in one.
posted by anderjen at 12:52 PM on February 17, 2022 [1 favorite]

Where's the cat tax?

My 4 1/2 year old mostly lazy lump will ask me to turn on his battery-operated chase-the-tail toy. Sometimes he will even play with it.

He loves bird videos even more than looking out the window at actual birds. That could be parlayed into an active toy by moving the laptop around the room...

He will also occasionally play with his ball track, give it a paw swipe or two.
posted by Flock of Cynthiabirds at 1:18 PM on February 17, 2022 [1 favorite]

I discovered accidently that the cats love the folding drying rack (something about the wobbliness is fun to them), and especially love it when I have a sheet draped over it they can lurk inside it as a cave and pounce upon unsuspecting passersby. You might try that for Phyrne. (Also, cat pics please!)

I also rumple up the area rug (hallway runner size) to create small tunnels and toss toys into the tunnel and the cats will totally rummage around underneath the rug with gusto for toys they are otherwise not that interested in chasing. A flat strawberry box, the kind with holes, is also a huge hit. I just turn it upside down and then play whackamole with the cats. It's less obvious that I'm responsible for the straw or whatever poking out, disappearing and then reappearing at a different hole. The ripple mats suggested in earlier comments are too shallow for extended play, but I will hide pieces of kibble in there.

Flying toys might be more interesting for your cat as they aren't fully directed by the human. That said, my cat knows that I am the one who is launching it and finds that delightful-- they bring back the toy to me a la playing fetch. I broke the propeller shotgun within a few months, it's not the sturdiest of toys, but it was super exciting while it worked. Nowadays I just launch hair ties as the flying object but closely supervise play because one of the cats likes to chew and ingest such things.
posted by spamandkimchi at 1:33 PM on February 17, 2022 [2 favorites]

Search term: cat toy under blanket

Lots of blanket based ideas.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 1:55 PM on February 17, 2022 [1 favorite]

My 13 year old obese kitty will only play with two things: tennis balls and the iPad. Neither one gives her any exercise - I've given up on that since she announced her retirement at age 9 or so and became completely sedentary - but she enjoys them. She likes to lie on her back and try to eviscerate the tennis ball and she LOVES video games. Mouse for Cats is her favorite but she also really likes videos of birds and squirrels and so on.

This is super unhelpful, I know and I'm sorry. You could try rolling the tennis ball to her, that might work, but I just gave up. Okra was about that age when she lost all interest in going outside, running around, playing games (except for taunting the dogs, she still enjoys that) and happily settled into lazy lump life. She's completely healthy and always has been; I just say that she's retired and basically, she is. Phryne may also have decided that it's time to take it easy.
posted by mygothlaundry at 2:09 PM on February 17, 2022

My girls love this thing. If she used to like chasing balls, she might enjoy playing with balls that are confined to a track so she doesn't have to chase after them so much. It's less exercise that way but it is more activity than lumping, and it's fun. You might want to spritz it down with catnip spray to spark her interest.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 3:04 PM on February 17, 2022 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Different cats I've had like different speeds of play. Our current roommate wants the string to move super slow and will think about pouncing a long while, then pounce, then want to sit on the thing and bite it and torment it for a time. If I drag too fast or it escapes him too soon too many times, he takes his ball and goes home.
posted by jocelmeow at 3:46 PM on February 17, 2022 [2 favorites]

Would she be interested in a puzzle toy that slowly dispenses kibble as it moves? The local animal shelter had a "spotlight foster" who was trying to lose weight and ate all her food from such a device. If your baby eats her regular food, maybe her regular food could get more difficult to access.
posted by theweasel at 4:16 PM on February 17, 2022

Response by poster: Oops, cat tax! (Big orange cat is her bro, don't worry even though he looks massive he is officially his Ideal Weight. He's just very very large)
posted by moons in june at 5:15 PM on February 17, 2022 [5 favorites]

I discovered that my senior kitty will play with other people but not me, a friend has had the same experience. Another friend and her young kids cat sit and they get really into playing with her, so new playmates, if your cat is okay with other people.

Other sometime favorites: Paper bag with a toy in it. Box with a toy in it. Funny shaped box. Cat tunnel wedged under furniture and poked from the outside with a wand toy (like a reverse of attacking things under a blanket). Running to check on the auto-feeder. Kicking the feeder to get it to maybe drop another kibble. Anything new to sniff.
posted by momus_window at 5:29 PM on February 17, 2022

Best answer: Seconding the valerian. I’ve seen cats who got pleasantly mellow-stoned on catnip go on to TRIP ABSOLUTE BALLS on valerian.

That said, it smells like Satan himself farted into a sweatsock, so make sure you’re well-ventilated.
posted by armeowda at 5:33 PM on February 17, 2022 [2 favorites]

I've heard that some cats like variety and you have to periodically rotate the cat toys, so think about getting them from the dollar store or such. for the novelty factor. By the time they break, it's time for a new one.
posted by kschang at 1:27 AM on February 18, 2022 [1 favorite]

Get a little vat of catnip and some cheap plush catnip toys or even other toys and dip them into the catnip and rub it all over on them real good, then brush off the excess. See if that excites your cat. Once the cat is into those toys, you can throw them and they're more likely to chase. Also, my place is full of crumpled up balls of paper from takeout bags because my cats like them. The vague food scent seems to pique their interest; they also like to curl up on stacks of ripped-open takeout bags. They go into hunting mode if I use the wand part of a rainbow wand to poke around under the stack of paper bags, as if a bug or mouse were under there, which I think is kind of a similar thing to what they get excited about when sheets are getting moved around. Do you have a rainbow wand? That one has a lot of uses; sometimes cats even just like to drag it around the house. Also, one cat really likes running through a plush tunnel. Also, have you tried silvervine sticks? Sometimes those get the cats excited for a bit.
posted by limeonaire at 8:37 AM on February 18, 2022 [1 favorite]

Seconding the recommendation for Da Bird. If you develop your technique with it, you can make it seem like something fluttering through the air, or something jumping across the ground, or other movement profiles that are attractive to cats.
posted by Lexica at 11:42 AM on February 18, 2022

I recently discovered that my cat goes mad over tissue paper. I just lay it out in a sheet on the floor and he loves attacking it/hiding under it/etc. Since you said your cat likes playing around when you make the bed (mine does too), maybe something like this would appeal to her? I often use it in a combination with a chaiser toy.

Along those same lines, my cat loves playing with a (clean, unused) disposable pee pad. I discovered this when they were out for our dog. The cat loves rolling around in them and turning himself into a kitty burrito.
posted by litera scripta manet at 4:41 PM on February 20, 2022

« Older Would you hire a retired (non-registered) RN, BscN...   |   Honey, the dry cleaner shrank my clothes! Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.