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If I don't play with him, he'll play only for a minute and go to lie down and sleep. He soon gets either bored or scared of the toys when playing by himself. I don't know how long he was a stray (he seems to be a house cat) but strays indeed often don't play and are scared of toys.

How to motivate him to play by himself?

(I'd love to bring in another cat, and I already know which, but I'm not allowed even one cat by the landlord)
 

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Maybe you could start with food enrichment ? It's a kind of occupational therapy and your cat will be rewarded with food/treats, which is a motivation in itself.

If you feed dry food you could hide small quantities of his daily ration in different places throughout the house so that he has to search/hunt for it, or you can use something to dispense food/treats.
You can buy food enrichment toys like a treat ball/pipolino, brain train or activity board from the pet store but it is also easy to make your own from things like egg cartons and empty kitchen towel rolls. Or you could put some treats in toys that were not specifically designed for food enrichment but will keep a cat occupied with fishing the treats out anyway.
As long as your cat is not afraid of it, but maybe the food is a good enough enticement ?

I feed my cats a raw diet but they sometimes get some kibble as a treat in their activity board, they love it and it almost makes me wish I fed dry kibble as a mainstay of the diet so I could give them more food this way in stead of from a plate.

 

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My Zoe was the same, but was not a stray at all. I realized when she was about a year old that she felt kitty toys were beneath her. lol She demanded proper toys like action figures - yes she had a couple he-man and GI Joe lol as well as an extensive Beanie Baby collection and was starting on WebKinz. Yip she even enjoyed watching the WebKinz on the computer screen! hehe! She was in love with the "under 3" toys from McDonald's and Burger King. She also had a couple dog stuffies - a squeaky alien and a cheeseburger - that she enjoyed batting around like balls.

She was nervous and sometimes afraid of toys that rattled or jingled which meant most kitty toys were out. If I put any of the others in front of her she would look at me with the, "Um Mom what do you think I am? A cat?" and be quite insulted!

My Gabriel enjoyed regular kitty toys, but I only had him for 2 yrs before he passed and that was almost 9 yrs ago. Having 2 kitties now who LOVE kitty toys has been a very strange experience for me.

My point in all of that rambling? Perhaps he wants a different kind of toy!


ETA: Mimosa, what is that activity board called and where did you get it?
 

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Mimosa: I have the same question as SpellQ: What is that board called and where did you buy it? My girls would love that!
 

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I just noticed the "UK delivery only" part. I shall ask my daughter to order it and then pick it up when I go to visit her this summer. :)

You guys are out of luck! :patback
 

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Ok, Susan, have your daughter pick up one for all of us, then you bring them back to Canada, and the next time you tour the US you can drop them off. Sinatra appreciates it!!! Nutmeg doesn't care.
 

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Well Krissy and Marie never showed up!! They were supposed to come pick them up right away and the wind chill is -20 right now, I can't let them freeze to death!! That is the only reason I am keeping them, I swear.
 

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the feral rehabs that I have often play with the toys, when I'm out of sight or not around, put the toys in a pile somewhere in the room, next day they will be scattered, If I'm in bed watching tv and tammi cat is in the room, often seen are toys flipping in the area at the foot of the bed, if I look over the edge there is a little face looking like "it wasn't me" as for the activity board does it come with something to bolt it to the floor,, ie the first activity for some of my cats would be to flip the thing over and get all the treats!!!
 

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If I don't play with him, he'll play only for a minute and go to lie down and sleep. He soon gets either bored or scared of the toys when playing by himself. I don't know how long he was a stray (he seems to be a house cat) but strays indeed often don't play and are scared of toys.

How to motivate him to play by himself?

You're right, ferals sometimes don't play with toys because they don't seem to understand the concept. After growing out of the kitten wrestling stage with their litter mates, many of them were too busy surviving to play.

I'm not sure another cat is the answer. In mid-December I brought two semi-feral barn cats from my colony into the house for the winter. Little black Junior, 8 months, is all about playing but Stripes, about 1 -1/2 years old, didn't get it at all at first. Like you said, he was afraid of toys and ran away when Junior wanted to wrestle.

Now, though, I see Stripes coming around. He will play with certain toys by himself, like ping pong balls, and more and more I see him getting in the spirit when Junior wants to wrestle and chase.
I think it just takes time. The more they relax in their environment, the more likely they are to play.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Greenport, I believe you're right, with time and nice toys he'll learn to just enjoy himself...
 

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You're right, ferals sometimes don't play with toys because they don't seem to understand the concept. After growing out of the kitten wrestling stage with their litter mates, many of them were too busy surviving to play.
Huh. I guess that kind of backs up what I'd suspected with my cat, even though we've had her ~8 years she still isn't much of one for playing. Blanket games, string games, any kind of game... she'll get into for a few minutes but then she kind of freaks out and leaves the room, so I stopped trying to play with her. She gets enough entertainment/stimulation outside so I don't worry about not playing with her, she's still a great lap cat and loves to be drapped over my shoulder - she's totally happy the way she is - and that's the most important thing to me.
 
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