Most cats display a preference for a particular type of prey, says the Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine. For instance, some cats may very much enjoy chasing mice, while others might be into catching birds — or bugs. Finding out just where your cat’s predatory instincts lie will help you buy or make her toys that are more to her liking.
Testing, testing, chirp, two, three…
To see if your cat has a penchant for hunting birds, pull together a number of toys or objects that are avian in nature. Think feathers and chirping noises. That narrows down the options to feathers themselves, stuffed toys covered in feathers, and objects suspended in air (perhaps hanging from the ceiling or flying around after being wound up or activated with batteries). Once you get the objects moving, does your cat follow them with her eyes, or try to catch them? If she does, you’re on to something. If she walks away or is clearly disinterested, it’s safe to assume that birds are not her thing.
Might mice be nice?
Put the bird-like toys out of sight and bring out the “mousy” objects: small, furry stuffed animals and balls that “scamper” across the floor and out of sight. Is your cat into chasing them, perhaps when you pull them along on a string? Or does she become disinterested?
Now try switching the bird toys and the mouse toys every 20 seconds or so. What’s grabbing her attention? In some cases her actions will reveal a decided preference. In others, you may see that she likes both (easier for you to entertain her!), and in some instances you may ascertain that neither is exciting her. That’s okay. You still have one other type of animal up your sleeve.
Put away the “birds” and “mice” and pull out the “bugs” — laser beams that scuttle across the wall, a string with a knot at the end that you pull along enticingly, and perhaps even tiny nibbles of food that you strew along the floor. Do these things strike your cat’s fancy? If so, you’ve got a winner! You can confirm your cat’s preference by quickly switching out the bug-like objects for some of the other “animals.”
Of course, it’s not always going to be cut and dry. Your cat may like to “hunt” all three types of toys to different degrees. But engaging in this exercise may provide clues about the kinds of games your cat prefers to play. And the testing itself will be a nice way for the two of you to interact.