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Home > Cats > How Do Cats Play With Humans? 5 Typical Ways

How Do Cats Play With Humans? 5 Typical Ways

ragdoll kitten playing with owner

Cats are typically independent animals. They don’t mind spending time alone, and they never miss the opportunity to curl up in a quiet place for a nap. But many cats also tend to enjoy spending quality time with their human companions, including playtime. So, how can you know when your cat is trying to play with you? Here are five typical ways that cats play with humans.


The 5 Common Ways Cats Play With Humans

1. Stalking

Cats love to stalk their prey for sport because it is fun for them. So, if your cat tries to stalk your hands or feet when you are moving around, chances are that they are just trying to play with you. This type of play can include clawing and biting, though, so it can be painful when the kitty gets carried away. Don’t be afraid to discipline them (without yelling or hitting) when the play gets too rough.

2. Chasing

Another way that cats like to play is to chase things, including their human family members. If your kitty is feeling frisky, they might chase you around the house or simply charge at you from across the room a few times. This type of play usually isn’t destructive or painful.

maine coon cat running over a gray sofa
Image Credit: Nils Jacobi, Shutterstock

3. Batting

A cat that bats their paws at you is in the mood for serious gameplay. They are looking to get active and maybe even do a bit of play fighting. While it’s never a good idea to play fight with your cat, this would be a good time to pull out a toy for interactive play.

4. Pouncing

While it can be surprising when it happens, a pouncing cat is nothing more than a playful cat. If you’re sitting down to read a book or trying to get some sleep and your cat pounces on you, don’t be startled into thinking that they are scared or aggressive. They’re likely just trying to have fun.

tortoiseshell tabby cat prepares to pounce onto something
Image Credit: SJ Duran, Shutterstock

5. Investigating

Another way that a cat plays is by investigating their target play toy — which could be you sometimes! You may find that your cat is suddenly sniffing your hair or clothes. They might seem to be sizing you up. They could even start batting at you during the process. It’s all just part of a game for them.


Fun Ways to Engage With Your Playful Cat

There are many fun ways that you can safely engage with your kitty when they are feeling frisky and playful. If your feline family member is not getting enough playtime, they could become destructive in the home and start ruining things.

Here are a few playful suggestions to consider:
  • Pull Out a Laser PointerA laser pointer can help your cat expel energy when they are in the mood to chase and stalk.
  • Activate a Motorized Toy — Get on the ground, and start batting a motorized toy around with your cat. This will keep your cat from “attacking” you and still enable you to spend quality time together.
  • Play Hide and Seek – Hide a few treats around the house where your cat can easily find them, then let them go on a scavenger hunt. This should keep them busy and active for a few minutes!
Two cats playing with laser pointer
Image Credit: Wanda Lizm, Shutterstock

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How Not to Play With Your Playful Cat

While it’s perfectly fine to play with your cat as often as you’d like to, there are a few ways that you should not play with them for safety and behavioral reasons. For example, you shouldn’t chase your cat after they chase you, as this can scare them and make them not trust you. It can also lead to your kitty climbing up curtains or on shelves and causing destruction.

Here are other tips to keep in mind:
  • Don’t Force Gameplay — Cats are independent creatures and do not appreciate being forced to do anything, including play. The more that you try to force them to play, the less time they are likely to want to spend with you in the future.
  • Don’t Play Fight — If you engage in play fighting with your kitty, you could be encouraging them to get rough anytime they play with a human, which can be dangerous for children and people not expecting it.
  • Don’t Forget About Discipline — If you don’t discipline your cat when they get too rough or play in a way that you don’t appreciate, you will encourage poor behavior that will affect the quality of your playtime together as time goes on. A quick reminder not to bite or scratch may be necessary every time you play together.



Cats can be extremely playful, so it’s important to understand when they want to play and how to properly play with them. Quality playtime together helps create an unbreakable bond that you and your feline friend can enjoy for a lifetime. It’s just a matter of establishing appropriate play guidelines.

See also:

Featured Image Credit: Tatyana Vyc, Shutterstock

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