New research shows playing with your cat isn’t just fun, it has numerous benefits for both owner and animal, as it promotes healthy communication, physical and social development and overall animal welfare.
Researchers at the University of Adelaide surveyed over 1500 cat owners from 55 countries to assess the importance of playtime in the owner-cat bond. The study centred around the total daily duration, types of games played and factors impacting playtime.
The results confirm that many cat lovers already know – the more time owners spend playing with their cats increases the closeness of the relationship.
In order to characterise the relationship between human and animal, guardians were asked 107 questions about their cat’s health, activity levels, daily play time and facts that affect the length and frequency of play between owner and animal.
On average, guardians reported playing with their cat for 45 minutes each day, with that time tending to be longer for younger cats and cats that were exclusively indoor animals.
There was a range of factors participants reported affected the length of playtime. These factors included the guardian being too tired or distracted with other tasks, fear of play overexciting the cat, and fears about the cat or guardians sustaining injury as a result of play.
The researchers say this study only lays the foundation for understanding how play affects the human-cat dynamic. More research is needed to establish how play affects inter-species relationships.