How To Use Play Therapy for your Cat

Excerpt from Starting from Scratch by Pam Johnson-Bennett


There are so many reasons to make play therapy work for you to improve life for your cat. It starts, of course, with the physical benefits. That alone should be reason enough to retrain your cat and yourself to the idea of regularly scheduled playtime. The extra benefit, though, is that play therapy can be used as part of a behavior modification program. It can be a powerful way to change a cat’s mind about a negative experience or location. For a cat eliminating outside the litter box, play therapy can help him change his impression about the area where he’s inappropriately eliminating. Used correctly, play therapy can defuse a tense situation between companion cats or help a timid cat develop more confidence. If your cat is terrified of visitors in the home, play therapy will be one of the methods you can use to ease his fears and increase his comfort level. When destruction or disturbing nocturnal activities are the issues, play therapy may be what saves the cat from being banished to another room or, worse, rehomed.

One of my favorite reasons to teach cat owners about play therapy is that it can help strengthen the cat-human bond. If you’ve been dealing with a long-term behavior problem or you’ve used inappropriate methods of behavior modification, your relationship with your cat may be distant, one of mere tolerance, or even hostile. Your cat may have learned to fear you because he knows he’s going to be chased, yelled at, put in “time-out,” or physically hit. These are things that can damage the relationship, and sometimes can turn the cat and owners into enemies under one roof. So whether you’re dealing with a tiny behavior problem or a major one, play therapy should be a required activity. It won’t just be fun for the cat; it’ll be fun for you. I promise!

To learn more about cat’s play techniques and sessions, purchase Starting from Scratch from Catnip.


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