Satisfies cat’s predatory drive, increases physical fitness, and encourages cats to play appropriately.
What You Need
An imagination for creation, several toilet or paper towel cardboard rolls, an old fabric glove, string, catnip, tissue paper, and straw or raffia.
Take several paper towel/toilet paper cardboard rolls and cut them in varying lengths. Lengths should be long enough to encourage your cat to be successful at fishing items out or push them through to the other side.
Glue them securely together in the shape of a pyramid or box.
Place some enticing items such as treats or a ball inside the rolls. Try taking some tissue paper sprinkled with catnip and stuff it lightly in one roll, or just sprinkle some catnip inside a roll or two. Your imagination is the limit.
Be careful not to use too small of items/toys that your cat could choke on or swallow.
Providing new things to explore and find inside the holes is going to ensure your cat never gets bored with this game. Make a few different varieties and rotate them every few days.
Love in a Glove
Cautionary note: Catnip can make some cat’s inner tiger surface, if your cat becomes over stimulated and aggressive with catnip do not use it.
Marinate the glove, tissue paper, and straw in a plastic bowl with catnip.
Stuff the tissue paper and straw into alternating fingers, and use a mixture of straw and tissue paper in the body of the glove. Make a few different stuffed gloves so you can alternate every few days.
Tie the glove closed with string or yarn. Leave plenty of string for you to move/drag the glove from a distance. You also can hang this from a door knob or a steady chair so your cat can play solo.
If your cat loses interest after a few days, the catnip may need to be refreshed. Simply untie the string and replace the contents.
Also try different stuffing options such as cellophane, bubble wrap, crumpled up paper, or even regular grass and leaves. Again your imagination is the limit.
For more creative ideas: 50 Games to Play with Your Cat by Jackie Strachan
Teaching your cat to walk on a harness and leash is a great way to let your cat safely enjoy the outdoors. It can also come in handy during trips to the vet, other necessary travel, or even when safely introducing two cats to each other. Before you get started, be sure your cat is up to date on all recommended vaccinations and has a microchip in case he gets lost.
Most cats can be easily trained to walk on a harness and leash. Kittens are naturally more accepting of this new experience, but older cats can be trained with patience. Proceed in small steps, rewarding each bit of progress. Start harness training indoors so that your cat is comfortable with it before you venture outside.
How to Train
Purchase a harness designed for cats, for example “Come with Me Kitty.” The leash attachment should be located on the back of the harness, not at the neck.
Leave the harness and leash near your cat’s food or favorite sleeping spot for several days. This way your cat will get used to the sight and smell of it and associate it with feelings of contentment and comfort.
Hold the harness, let your cat sniff it, and offer him treats. Then lay the harness against your cat’s body and neck. As he’s sniffing the treat, remove the harness and let him eat the treat.
Next, drape the harness over your cat’s shoulders and down his chest between his front legs. Introduce the new feel of the straps while your cat is sniffing or eating his treat, and remove the harness immediately. Work until you can snap the harness on him over his neck and shoulder area and between his front legs.
Put the harness on your cat, but don’t attach the leash. Adjust the fit of the harness. You should be able to slip two fingers between the harness and your cat’s body. Leave the harness on for just a couple minutes, removing it before your cat’s interest in his rewards starts to decrease. Repeat this training daily for several days. If your cat stays relaxed, gradually increase the time the harness is on. If he ever gets upset, distract him with treats, and then remove the harness.
Now it’s time to attach the leash. Place your cat in an open room with a few things that might snag a leash. Put the harness on your cat and attach the leash, letting it drag on the ground behind him. Distract him with treats or play. Repeat this step for several days.
When your cat seems relaxed and comfortable while dragging the leash, hold it gently (not pulling against him) while he walks around the house. Let him go wherever he wants to, and keep the leash loose as you follow him around. As he roams, praise him often and periodically reward him with tasty treats.
Now you are ready to practice slightly directing where your cat walks on leash, start indoors before you go outside, this is important since most likely you’ll need to direct him once you’re outside:
Using a sweet, soft voice, encourage your cat to follow you.
Drop him a treat, and while he eats it, walk away to the end of the leash. When he catches up to you, praise and reward him with another treat. Repeat this over and over.
Apply gentle, persistent pressure on the leash if your cat tries to go in another direction. NEVER jerk or pop the leash. Just wait patiently. When your cat finally takes a couple of steps toward you, IMMEDIATELY put slack in the leash and he’ll be rewarded by relief from the tension on the leash.
Most cats who haven’t been outdoors are nervous and easily startled outside. So start in a quiet, sheltered spot and just sit with your cat on the leash. He’ll start exploring as he adjusts. Just as you did indoors, start by following behind your cat as he checks things out and travel farther with your new walking buddy when he’s relaxed and ready to move on.
Try setting a regular walking schedule, so your cat won’t constantly pester you to go outside.
Always put the harness on away from the door and carry your cat outside. Never let him walk out on his own, or he might try to dash out between walks without his harness.
Never harness your cat when he’s crying or pestering you. Ignore him until he’s quiet. Then you can reward his good behavior with a walk.
Do not tie your cat’s leash to something outside and leave him, even if you plan to be gone for only a minute or two. Your cat might get tangled in the leash and hurt himself, and he won’t be able to escape if a dog or other animal approaches. In fact, it’s best to avoid leaving your cat outdoors unattended altogether, whether he’s on a leash or not.
If your cat is stalling or crouching on a walk or tries to escape he might be scared, and going for walks is not a good way of enriching a fearful cat’s life. There are many options for indoor enrichment that can make your cat happy and engaged in an indoor environment – see our handout on enrichment indoors.
Teaching your cat to make eye contact with you on command is not hard to do and it can be very useful. An eye contact command can be used to attain and keep your cat’s attention in situations that may cause fear or anxiety.
What You Need
Soft treats, wet food or tuna, whichever your cat prefers
A clicker, if you use one. Otherwise, say “yes!” to mark the behavior
A quiet area without distractions for practicing
How to Train It
Step 1. The easiest way to teach your cat to look at you is by holding a treat at eye level and making an interesting sound (e.g. kissy noises, squeak from a squeaky toy). As soon as your cat makes eye contact, give her the treat by moving it in a straight line from your eyes to her mouth.
Repeat this exercise until your cat is looking at your eyes once the treat is presented nine out of ten times.
Step 2. After several repetitions, when your cat begins to look up toward your eyes for a treat, begin to give the behavior (looking at you) a name or command, like “Look” or “Watch Me.” Say the command at the moment you “bait” the cat (i.e. attract her attention), right before she looks and gets the treat.
Step 3. Now add the verbal cue. First, clearly say “Look,” and move your hand toward your face. When she looks at your hand, click, and give her a treat. Repeat until your cat eagerly responds to the command.
Step 4. After several repetitions of “bait-command à reward” begin to phase out the baiting. Give the command without holding the treat at eye level. Have a treat ready, and the instant your cat makes eye contact, reward her.
Finally, practice this exercise in gradually more distracting environments. Try a busy room rather than a quiet one. Eventually work up to having guests, and other cats or dogs present when giving the command.
If your cat is looking at your hand rather than your face, try stretching your hand all the way out. As soon as she makes eye contact with your hand, reward her and gradually move your hand toward your face. As your hand comes closer, reward your cat for following your direction.
If you’re using wet food, use a spoon so your hands stay clean.
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Ready To Adopt?
To expedite the adoption process, please complete the cat or dog adoption form and bring a printed copy with you to the SF SPCA Adoption Center (Hours & Location). This helps us better understand what sort of pet you’re looking for so we can guide you every step of the way! Please bring a valid photo ID and verification that you are allowed to have a pet where you currently live.
Find the perfect match.
First, we’ll meet with you to find out more about you and your pet preferences and answer your questions. Our goal is to help you find the pet that best fits your lifestyle and living situation so we want to make sure you have a realistic understanding of the time and resources necessary to provide training, medical treatment, and proper care for your new pet. This can take time so please allow at least one hour for the adoption process.
Meet and greet.
Once we have a good understanding of your living situation and the type of pet you’re interested in, we’ll make introductions and let you spend some quality time getting to know each other to see if there’s a love connection. It’s important that all household members take part in this important decision so please make sure everyone is present (including any resident dogs if you’re considering adding a new pooch to your pack).
Make it official.
Once love happens, we’ll complete the paperwork, review all the SF SPCA adoption benefits, provide information on any known medical or behavioral issues, and share tips to make the transition a success for both you and your new pet.
Stay in touch.
We consider you and your new furry friend a part of the SF SPCA family so please reach out with questions ― and be sure to share your adoption stories and pet photos at sfspca.org/stories
Don’t forget to schedule your first free health exam at the SF SPCA Veterinary Hospital within three days of adopting.