Cat Games, 5 Ways

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On some cold winter days, it’s not just the human kids who get cabin-fever, but our four-legged kids, too! To wit, we came up with five ways the cat and kids could play together today, meaning everyone was entertained (for a little while at least!)

Fishing for Feathers

For this first game, I rigged up a homemade version of a classic cat “fishing rod” using materials from our craft bin. Tie a few craft feathers together with string, then loop the other end of the string around a dowel and secure with tape.

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I showed the kids how to dangle these “birds” for the cat.

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At first he seemed surprised to be the center of attention, but soon he was batting at the feathers with excitement. Clearly the kids thought it was a riot!

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Laser Tag

This second game is strictly for kids who are old enough to understand that a laser pointer never gets pointed into anyone’s eyes, whether human or feline. Travis absolutely loved wiggling the dot of our laser pointer for the cat (it makes him go wild!).

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Veronika, meanwhile, got to watch and laugh at the show!

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Sock It to Me

Forget the cat ball toys you can buy at the store; rolled up socks make instant balls for zero cost! Veronika in particular loved rolling a few homemade sock balls to the cat and back again. “Here’s a sock!” she would say each time.

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If you have fresh catnip, you could even sprinkle some in the socks, first. Then we tried a variation where I tied a long string around each sock. The cat loved pouncing after these if we dragged them on the floor, or batting at them if they were dangled in the air.

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Kitty Soccer

Our cat loves to play “soccer” with crinkly Mylar balls, so today we tested out a few other “soccer” toys. Great options for batting around include spring toys (try the Thin Colorful Springs from Ethical Pet) or even just a ball of crumpled paper. Gooooaaaaal!

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Two-Toy Tango

Finally, we got extra silly. I gave the kids one toy cat mouse and had them pretend to be cats, pouncing on it or batting it around with their “paws”.

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The cat received a second mouse so he could play right alongside my little humans. It’s highly debatable who had more fun with all these games, the two-legged kids or the four-legged one. Needless to say, the cat took a nice long cat nap after.

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Halloween Countdown Day 21: Pets on Parade

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All those traditional pet costume parades are cancelled this Halloween, but you’re sure to delight your kids if you take a day in your Halloween countdown to check out virtual versions.

The kids giggled as we checked out online images of dogs dressed up as Ewoks and delivery men. This gave them the idea to put our kitty in a costume!

I knew our cat wouldn’t tolerate a full costume, but he surprisingly didn’t mind a pair of red devil horns for a moment while noshing on dinner.

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So, as long as your pet is willing, play doggie and kitty dress-up today. As always, make sure your pet is comfortable and happy in a costume, and never force the issue.

Meanwhile, there’s still a chance to tune into one of the biggest and best pet parades when Tompkins Square Park goes virtual.

Special Snack for Pets

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Summer always brings so many celebrations for people: graduations, birthdays… or just an excuse to get together with good friends in warm weather. Here’s a really cute way to include your animal pals in the fun! After a weekend of human celebrations, Travis proudly helped put together this cat cake for our cat.

In a bowl , we stirred together 2 tablespoons canned tuna, 1 tablespoon shredded cheese, and 1 teaspoon dry oats.

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Press the mixture into a ramekin or muffin tin. Ideally, this will hold its shape when you invert it over a cat bowl. Ours didn’t, but the cat didn’t mind! Decorate with a few cat treats.

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Travis proudly carried it over to where the cat could “celebrate.” He wanted to make sure the cat enjoyed his cake!

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He then needed to eat some shredded cheese of his own (Daiya mozzarella) and pretended to be a cat the rest of the evening.

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Showing affection and caring for animals is always a valuable lesson for kids, teaching them that all species deserve love and care.

Have a dog instead? Highlights magazine suggests mixing together dry dog food with 1 tablespoon peanut butter and 1 tablespoon mashed banana, then decorating with dog treats and banana slices.

Have an animal like a guinea pig or rabbit who eats veggies? Stack a few sliced fruits and veggies into a “cake”, and top with a treat.

Animal Magic

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We have a cat who hates everyone on earth… except my two kids, thank goodness. I had read about this phenomenon before my eldest was born, that cats will guard a home against “outsiders”, but will immediately protect those who live within the home, so I never worried about introducing the cat to the babies. From the moment they came back from the hospital, he was their protector and nursemaid. He parked himself by the bassinet at nap time, sat by their feet during tummy time, and curled up by their side whenever they nursed.

The affection between family pets and babies runs both ways. It turns out babies love watching cats almost as much as cats love watching baby. Pets can fill kids with wonder, and are often their first exposure to the animal world. Today, Veronika and I took some time to truly appreciate and marvel at the cat.

As you can see, he loves to join playtime.

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At six months old, Veronika is truly aware of him now, and loves petting his fur (this is a great time to introduce words like “gentle” to your little one).

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If you’re worried that your baby will grab on to the fur too tightly, try rubbing feet into the fur instead.

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As she sat on my lap, I let Veronika stroke the cat, and we also listened for his noises, his meows and his purrs.

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Because we don’t have a dog, I also sought out a few chances for her to see canines in action. We headed to the local dog park and heard barks and yips.

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We also saw some dogs getting groomed while at the pet store!

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If you don’t have a pet at home, consider a similar outing, or go to a friend’s house for some animal magic. Here Veronika got to check out some birds!

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I recommend sitting your baby on your lap if you’re unfamiliar with the animal. Needless to say, you should always supervise animals and babies closely, even at home.


Teach Your Cat to High-Five

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Here is an adorable challenge from Travis’s Highlights magazine: Can you teach your cat a trick? Travis was gamely up for trying, and although we didn’t exactly succeed, our cat was an eager participant! It was a great way to engage my son with our companion animal in a new way – cat and boy both enjoyed it!

The goal was to teach our cat, Krishna, to high-five with his paw touching our hand.

Hold a cat treat in your right hand.

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Hold your left hand up just slightly above the cat’s head, as if you’re waiting for a high-five. Now hover the hand with the treat in front of that. The cat will (hopefully) paw for the treat.

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We gave praise, and then tried again, over the course of a few days!

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Okay, so we never got a paw to palm, since Krishna wanted to go in each time with his nose. But it was fun to have his nose nuzzle up to the palm.

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In sum, what great inter-species play! Has your child ever taught the family dog or cat a trick? Please share in the comments.

Glowing Fishbowl

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Although I don’t advocate keeping real fish as pets (it’s a sad existence to travel around and around a bowl for years on end), fake fish can make adorable companions! On a recent trip to a local fish hatchery, Travis picked up a plastic fish and turtle. We thought it would be cute to make them a little habitat to stay in. What’s better than a fishbowl home? A glowing fishbowl home!

First we squirted glue into the insides of the a clear glass bowl with a wide mouth, intending to make lines that looked like seaweed. Our glue was very runny, so didn’t work as well as we hoped, but we still then managed to dump in a whole can of glow-in-the-dark glitter and swirl the bowl until it coated the “seaweed.”

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Definitely do this step over a trash can!

I then piped on a few fish with additional glow-in-the-dark paint and we set it aside to dry.

The glitter, disappointingly, didn’t show up as glowy as we hoped, but the fish were cute glowing in the dark.

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Once we filled the bowl with water, it was the perfect home for our fish and turtle.

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