Judging from my earliest memories of wanting to play with cats, I think most people make the same mistakes I made. I dangled the feathers a few inches away from her face and caused the feathers to flutter and dance. This only served to scare my little fluff-ball, and to be nervous about this thing right in front of them. The next thing I did was to swing the feathers around trying to mimic the flight of a bird. Again, I did not get the response I was seeking. There was no joyful chasing and trying to catch it.
Over the years of cat ownership, I have learned that there are different ways to stimulate a cat to play with these things. That some cats need other stimulating actions, and I needed to change how those feathers moved.
Our gentle little house-cats are big-cat hunters in disguise. They are motivated by movement more on the ground level than in the air. Much like greyhounds who chase a mechanical rabbit around a race-track. Wave that feather too high, and the cat will probably ignore it, knowing it’s clearly out of reach. Move it too fast, and the cat will think “nope.” But let it rest on the ground, twitch it a little bit, move it an inch or two, and suddenly your cat will change her attitude.
IF you pay close attention to your kitty, you’ll discover the cutest thing is when they do that “butt wiggle” prior to leaping and running to catch the feather. They do this to be sure of their ground and balance before launching themselves full-tilt. Like a sprinter at the blocks who gets ready for the foot-race.
Your goal is to move the feather before the cat can reach it. Now you’ll discover just how fast a cat can be. How fast is your reaction speed? Now move that feather as if it was hopping away, short hops of about 2 or 3 feet and watch your kitty just keep on trying. Or sometimes, just keep dragging it on the ground in large sweeps and kitty will use a lot of energy just chasing it. Don’t let it fly too high off the ground that kitty can’t jump and reach it, because he’ll just give up and stop playing.
There are other choices besides feathers to put on the end of the string. But here’s a word of warning: Be aware that some of those choices will catch claws. And a claw that gets caught in the fabric could be troublesome and cause a lot of pain to the cat. That kind of pain will quite possibly ruin any more playing you’ll ever have with your cat. Also, pay close attention to what type of string is being used. Same thing applies.
Try this link for some suggestions of wand-style cat toys: https://amzn.to/38okdIY
OR THESE WHICH ARE MY PERSONAL FAVORITES: