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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
This might fit in the Behavior forum, but it's really more a health issue...I think.

The question is, what sort of things can I do to stimulate a cat mentally, but not really physically?

Background
Okay, to be completely honest, I have been horrible about paying REAL attention to Paizly this year (actually, I don't do much with Nebbie, but she does good with entertaining herself). Since I got made a supervisor at the shelter this summer, I go there a good 3 or 4 times a week for several hours each time. With my health problems, by the time I'm done with that, I'm so tuckered out! I do minimum house chores, eat, and go to bed.
BUT! My resolution is to MAKE time (not just find time) for Paizly. Whenever I look up playing games with cats and stuff to keep them from getting bored, it's all physical activity. The problem is that Paizly is disabled, which makes it hard for her to run and jump... PLUS, even though she's only 10, she's getting arthritis already. Yes, I know that being more active can actually help slow arthritis, but she doesn't seem to like to move around much at all... she won't go after toys, though sometimes it seems as if she wants to (gets her tail twitching, hunches up...then decides it's not worth it and settles back down again - I always expect to hear a sigh!)

Anyhoo... suggestions for stuff I can engage her with that uses more mind than muscle?

EDIT = I do give her attention... pets and snuggles when I pass by her bed, ever so often. Treats once a day. She has been climbing up on the bed with me the last few nights. But I don't PLAY with her...and I need to start!
 

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I wonder, would something she can watch that's exciting help at all? Sometimes my cats like to watch the fish in the fishtank, or birds outside. Athena even likes just sitting in front of my computer screen when I'm playing a video game like WoW. She'll stare at the characters running around with great fascination.

If you live in an area with a lot of birds, you could try hanging a feeder outside a window that your cats can see through. Maybe Paizly will like watching the birds. :)
 

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I visited our local cat rescue organization Animalkind this week. They had a TV in the free-roaming cat room and were playing a DVD of chipmunks jumping, field mice scurrying and birds flying and flitting from bush to bush.
There were cats lined up to watch that video. The ones closest to the screen had their paws on it following the action.

I'm not sure of the title, but I'll bet a Google search would turn it up.

I like the idea of a feeder outside the window. Reality vs. virtual reality.
 

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I very much believe that keeping cats stimulated is key to having well behaved and happy cats, so I play a bunch of “quiet games” with my girls (along with a host of rowdy games, but we'll skip those for now). The quiet games involve a bit of pouncing, but they are not overly active. All except the first game are based on the principle that cats seem to be attracted by things that are hiding (in the same sense that they love to attack feet under bedcovers):

1) Dangle a string close to her…either just a piece of string on its own, or a piece of string with something tied to the end (toy mouse, etc.), and let her catch the string.

2) Same idea with a mouse tied to the end of a string, but put a small blanket or towel over the mouse and then wiggle the mouse under the towel letting her try to catch the “undercover” mouse.

3) Similar idea that stimulates a cats love to chase something hidden, but use a wand toy and cover the toy with a few large unfolded sheets of newspaper. Wiggle the toy under the paper and see if she pounces at it.

4) Cut some holes in the side of a cardboard box and hold a mouse on the end of a string (or other fishing pole type toy) inside the box, letting the mouse peek in and out of the holes, with the cat hunting from the outside.

5) Save empty toilet paper rolls and put things in them (rolled up aluminum foil, a few treats) and let her fish them out. I also put a toy mouse or a treat in an empty Kleenex box and let my girls go fishing.

I also keep about a dozen tunnels, cardboard boxes, plastic bins and bags (environmentally-friendly cloth or similar type grocery bags). I bring out a new one every few days, put it in the family room where I am, and toss in a few toys (mice, balls). They love to play in them. After a few days, they get bored with the same box, tunnel or bag, so I put it away and bring out a new one, which gets their attention again.

My girls also love catnip cigars or catnip bananas, and they too enjoy watching cat videos as suggested by Greenport…although I don’t let them do that too often, since I’m not fond of spending my evenings listening to mice squeak and birds chirp!

They have a bunch of toys that they're happy to play with themselves, such as track-type toys, ball toys, etc., all of which are quiet toys. I used to leave them all out, and they soon lost interest. So, I now keep the toys in a closet, and bring one or two new toys out every day or so. Then I put the "old" toys away and give them a new one a day or so later. It takes a few weeks to rotate through all of their toys. I find they have taken much more interest in their toys since I started doing this.

Finally, they have various cat trees, most of which are next to windows. Weather permitting, I open one of the windows just a crack (the windows have screens). As soon as they hear the window opening (or smell the outdoors), they come running. They love to sit beside the window, look outside and sniff the air.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Saitenyo - Yup, she sits by the patio door and watches the birds and squirrels...but in the summer. I keep us all locked in the bedroom in the winter (have all the heat shunted into one room, to save on energy!).
Right now, during being "locked up", I'm trying to find something I can do with her... not just sitting around, because that's what I'm trying to resolve!

Greenport ferals - Nifty! I wish our shelter could do that, but it's not a "open during business hours" type thing. The cats only get human interaction about 3 hours a day, when volunteers come to clean...and I'm not sure it'd be a good idea to leave a TV on without supervision.

Susan - Thanks for all the ideas. I'll have to try the "little" games. I do have ONE cat tree, and ONE 'cat cube', and Nebbie monopolizes them (not that Paizly could climb the tree anyway). She does like paper bags, but she just goes in there to hide...like when the UPSTAIRS doorbell rings! She's so silly.
I'll have to see if I can get more toys from either dollar stores, thrift stores, or even FreeCycle. I only have $40 a month to spend, and most of it goes to groceries (including cat food!).


I thought maybe I could start training her, like that "Touch" thing. Not that I need her to do any tricks, but at least it would be spending time with her DOING something!
 

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Another suggestion is a variation on mimitabby's. First thing is put Nebbie away in another room. Drop a treat on the floor near Paizly and then drop another a short distance away and then further. Or you can use kibble and spread it throughout a few rooms. This way she has to move to get the food.

I do this as a variation of just giving my two cats treats. I tend to reserve giving treats to after clipping claws. They really look forward to their "treasure hunts".
 
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