The other day, I was sitting in my living room reading when I heard a commotion on the landing below. I got up to check, and found Allegra and Ruby intently following the movements of a small moth, and occasionally pouncing on it. They rarely play together, so even though I felt sorry for the moth, it was delightful to see the two of them in cahoots like this.
True to form, Allegra mostly watched and waited, while Ruby batted the moth around. Occasionally, Allegra would take a half-hearted swat at it, but she seemed to have more fun watching Ruby play. After a minute or two, I went to get the camera.
As I was filming the video below, I reflected on how this was a reminder of our housecats’ true nature: even while they enjoy a happy and safe life indoors, they’re still hunters at heart. It’s easy to forget this when they bat around cute stuffed mice or go after fake birds attached to wand toys.
Watching Ruby go after the moth also reinforced for me why it’s so important to nurture this hunting instinct with interactive play. The best kind of play is the kind that mimics hunting in the wild. Make it interesting for your cats. Don’t just toss a toy. Wiggle a wand toy across the room, up and down furniture, and around corners. Vary your speed. When your cat catches her “prey,” let her bat at it or grab it, but then try to get it away from her again, just like a prey animal would try to escape from a cat in the wild.
At the end of the play session, slow things down. Show your cat that her “prey” is getting tired. Always end a play session with your cat catching her toy, otherwise you’ll find yourself with a frustrated cat who will take her leftover excess energy out in ways you may not approve of, such as scratching your furniture, or biting your ankles.
Here’s the video of Allegra, Ruby and the moth. Viewer discretion is advised: the poor moth does not stand a chance against Ruby.
How do you nurture your cat’s hunting instinct?
muffin: ooh! I was playing with a moth! (by the way tea is not awake *snicker*) It was big and juicy! mommy said I should let it go.but I just grabbed it in my paw and ran!
Ha! Moth?! How about a mousie–a real one! I certainly don’t incourage the mice to enter, but they do and they get what mousies get when they bust into a house with six cats. The Fantastic Four act as a team, but back in the day Kelly was the main mouse hunter, staking out the basement from the steps and waiting for any sign of movement or noise.
Aside from the real wildlife, I toss toys for them. They all play together so I don’t stand a chance with one DaBird, I use two instead, a real one and one I’ve made, or re-made, and also cat dancers. Most fun, we play stairway ball where I toss an ever-increasing number of ping pong balls up the steps for them to chase as they bound back down to me.
I can’t imagine what the girls would do with a real mouse – and I’m kind of hoping I won’t ever find out! Like you, I’ve learned to do the two-handed Da Bird play. The stairway ball game sounds like great fun!
Oh, my cat is the Bug Hunter extraordinaire! While bug hunting in the back yard, he will do the most fantastic leaps and mid-air flips! I love catching him in the act of back yard bug hunting!
Ruby is definitely a girl after Cody’s heart. Cody is our “Chief moth-bug-fly killer” and Dakota stands behind him watching him (ala Allegra) and turns to look at us as if he is doing all of the work.
We had a WHITE moth the other day and I was amazed because I had never seen a white moth before!
Albino moth – now that’s a new one to me, too, Caren!
Wow that looked like fun. One day there was a bug inside mom’s house she told us to”get that bug!”. Of course, I went right after but my big sis Lucy just stood there. Mom went into the kitchen to get a towel but I had eaten it. Eeekkkk! Mom was like ” good girl you got that bug but next time don’t eat it” . The rest of the night mom praised us (even Lucy though she didn’t do anything). She said we were her official bug catchers. 🙂
It’s good to have feline bug catchers! 🙂