One of my favorite games involves stalking and (eventually) attacking. It is played using my tunnel, with me at one end and my human wiggling her fingers at the other end. But she always ends the game before I even have a chance to attack! She is full of excuses, like she doesn’t have all day, her knees hurt, and a variety of other lame complaints. I know the truth, though — she is merely lazy and uncooperative. She is always like this, with every game, not just the tunnel game — if I don’t hop to it and attack immediately she loses interest. Is there anything I can do to correct her bad behavior?
Dear Patient Pouncer,
This is such a common kitty complaint that I wonder if it isn’t hardwired into the human makeup. I think this laziness has something to do with humans shopping for food at the store instead of hunting it properly. They are so used to just grabbing things in bags that they no longer understand the timing, or even the concept, of capturing prey. This is really unfortunate, because when a human walks away in the middle of a kitty stalking game, it leaves the cat frustrated and more likely to act out or become ill tempered. Honestly, can you blame us?
All is not lost, however. There are ways to add some elements to your play that will keep your human more engaged… and maybe even make the game more fun for you! One thing your human needs to do is ditch the fingers. Hand play is almost always unsatisfactory for kitties and humans. If you do manage to attack the hand successfully, it will probably get scratched up, bleed and make your human speak in her loud voice. Human hands are really too fragile to be playthings, and I am not surprised your human ends the game before you have a chance to catch hers. Instead, she should dangle some fun, enticing thing at the end of the tunnel, like feathers or a mousie on a string. Now, that is what I call proper prey! It’s way more exciting to stalk, plus your human has to use some of her imagination to make the thing move like it is alive. Chances are you will be quicker to attack something that imitates real, live prey. I have taught my human to use Da Bird like that sometimes, when I am not in the mood to actually leap after it. Instead, she makes it crawl into hiding places, and I have to stalk it. A smaller toy, like a mousie on a string, is also fun because your human can make it fly into the tunnel, closer to you, but just out of your reach.
If these things don’t work and your human is still losing interest too soon, have her use the treat method of play. She should take something fun and tasty — I prefer freeze-dried chicken and turkey, but any small treat will do — and toss a couple of pieces into the tunnel where you have to go in and grab them. Talk about instant gratification! In any case, when a stalking session ends unsatisfactorily, i.e., where you don’t actually wind up catching anything — whether it is your human being lazy or too clumsy with the play — you should always get a treat thrown your way at the end. Catching the treat and consuming it helps ease any frustration you may feel. Getting dinner immediately afterwards helps too.
Mark's Mews (Ayla, Iza, and Marley) says
Inneresting new format Sparkle!
Somebody is actually working on it right now – it is probably not done yet!
Excellent advice! I expect Scooter will come up with a new rule book for me by morning.
Very good advice, hope lots of humans read it.
Layla Morgan Wilde says
Sparkle you have a smart mom who understands rules of playing.
Fraidy Cats! says
Sparkle, this post is very helpful for us. Our mom is not very patient and we tend to take our time in pouncing…must figure all the possibilites of course…mustn’t rush things…
Pip, Smidgen, Minnie, Hollie
Great Advice Sparkle!
Spitty the Kitty says
My Human suffered from Lazy Human Syndrome but then she read a similar piece of advice from you maybe six months ago (?) and she has improved considerably. She has learned to read the signs–if I wiggle my but she knows pouncing is imminent and she is very still! Plus she has learned the occasional tiny twitch can be verreh effective. Thanks Sparkle for edumacating the Humans about these impawtant topics.
The Island Cats says
Hey, we like the idea of treat play! Great advice!
Glogirly & Katie says
Pawsome advice, Sparkle!
Glogirly is OFTEN lazy.
; ) Katie
Hmm. Sounds like my mom!
you always give such good advise.
Fuzzy Tales says
Gees, we don’t get treats at the end of a play session! Our human doesn’t have a lot of patience and also tends to lose interest before we do, a lot of the time. Not always, though, we’ll give her that. 🙂
Thanks for the comment re: Toby. The human wrung her hands, figuratively speaking, over her decision, but things seem to be working out for the best, knock on wood. She’ll check in with the clinic later this week, to see if he’s gone to the barn or if he’s still there.
Sweet Purrfections says
Great advice. Our mom always ends the play sessions before we’re ready.
Cats of wildcat woods says
Always good ideas especially not using hands for play!
Cathy Keisha says
Good advice, Sparkle; however, the human has done this and I won’t even wriggle my hind quarters. I won’t stalk the wand toys cos she’s tried that. TW says I play different from every other cat she’s had or read about. I don’t actually catch my prey, i.e. the hand, I just run right past it. The only thing she hasn’t tried is the treats. I’m glad you addressed this because judging from the comments, many other cats share this problem and this may help them. I’m truly one of a kind.
Thanks Sparkle. Now I know where I am going wrong! I need to work the treat angle a bit more subtly! >^..^<
Famous SpokesGoat Pricilla says
You are a most excellent advice giver
That was terrific Sparkle and we do get a finger nibble every once in a while!
Emma and Buster says
Nobody can give advice the way you do Sparkle. Keep up the good work. Hoomans can learn from you.
caren gittleman says
oh this was great!! I have a human that suffers from “lazy human syndrome” too! Will be sure she sees this! Love, Cody
Great advice Sparkle. We have our Person trained not to get her fingers in the mix. She has had many a bloody finger and some bad words were said. We love our Neko toy the best. But a mouse on a string sounds good too.
Hannah and Lucy says
We are going to sit on Mum and make sure she reads every word of your blog Sparkle – she is always complaining about her ouchie fingers when we’ve been so quick shooting our paws out she didn’t see them moving. She has thought about wearing gloves but we know she’ll only moan about holes in the fingers of them.
Luv Hannah and Lucy xx xx
The Kitties of Purring Pines says
Excellent advice! Since we get to go outside some, we can chase live prey! Yay!
Mr Puddy says
Great advice Miss Sparkle, My mom learns a lots from YOU !