(Think Like a Cat#5) Interactive Playtime in Multicat Households
Excerpt from Think Like a Cat by Pam-Johnson Bennett
A cat has to focus completely on her prey and plan her attack. Two or more cats stalking the same toy will be distracted by each other. Also, the more assertive cat will take charge, leaving the other cat to sit on the sidelines. That certainly isn't much fun for her.
Interactive playtime should provide pleasure and confidence, so make sure each cat has her own toy. Your goal isn't achieved if they simulataneously pounce on a toy and one cat crashes into the other. That will result in hisses, swats, and somebody running away in fear. But you can avoid the problem. Either take one cat at a a time into another area of the house and conduct an individual play session, or hold a fishing pole toy in each hand. It's tricky at first but you'll get used to it. The secret to working two toys at once is to keep the cats obviously not going to be as adept at imitating precise preylike movements, but it's better than nothing. You could also enlist another family member to help. Unlike when it's time to medicate the cat, you can usually find a willing assitant for play sessions.
If you have more than two cats, you'll have to arrange individual play sessions to be sure that everyone gets his or her turn. You can still do group sessions using two toys (obviously the cats will have to take turns), but you have to be very aware of who might be backing away from the game. Make sure everyone gets a shot and don't allow two cats who maybe aren't on the best of terms to find themselves eye to eye. If you are going to do individual sessions, leave the radio or TV on to create background noise for your other cats. The sound will hopefully cover the familiar sound of the interactive toy off in the distance.
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