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Top 10 Things Cats Like

Activities Cats Enjoy the Most


Cats are intelligent creatures, sentient, and quite aware of the things they like and dislike. For the most part, we can tell which things cats like the most, by the amount of time they spend during those activities. However, time isn't always the case. We know, for example, that most cats spend 16 to 18 hours a day sleeping, however sleeping is not necessarily a cat's favorite activity.

It's difficult to arrange these pleasurable activities in a numerical pattern, as "one size fits all" does not apply to cats at all. Like us humans, what was fun yesterday may make any given cat yawn today. As you read, you'll see that this list is interwoven and interchangeable. Cats know you can't get too much of a good thing. Reader activity will play a role in the order of this list, so please keep your own cats in mind while reading.

1. Cats Love to Bond With their Humans

Photo of Asa With His Favorite Cat, Bubba
Photo Credit: © Franny Syufy

When we bring cats into our lives, regardless of their ages, we become surrogate parents to them, cat moms and dads, and most of us consider our cats an integral part of our families. We and our cats bond in many ways, as other items on this list, such as petting, interactive play, grooming a cat, will demonstrate. It's rare to find even a novice cat parent who doesn't feel this bond quickly. And experienced cat parents often feel the bond immediately. I can't tell you how many times I've read shelter cat adoption stories, which include something about "love at first sight" somewhere in the story.


Therapy Cats

Bonding with cats is a two-way street, as many of us have experienced. There is nothing quite so hypnotically relaxing than feeling a warm purring body next to us. It's little wonder that cats are coming into their own as therapy animals in hospitals and nursing homes.


Many Men Love Cats Too

Perhaps it's because all the men in my family have been cat guys, but there's a special place in my heart for men who love cats. One of my favorite cat dads is Avram, who originally wrote to me years ago. He was in a relationship and eventually wanted children, but wasn't sure if he could be a good father. He was fascinated with cats but was allergic to them. We worked together for almost a year, with a gradual program of acclimating himself to cats. He eventually adopted Arthur and Beowulf as kittens, and adored those cats from the very first. Now, several years later, Avram is the father of a bouncing baby boy, and couldn't be happier. In my opinion, his son will grow up to be a responsible, caring person, as is the case of most kids with cats.

2. Cats Live to Eat and Eat to Live

Photo of Cats Eating Young Again Zero Carbs Dry Cat Food
Photo Credit: © Franny Syufy

Like many humans, cats love to eat good food, and to snack between meals. Cat snacks are probably more healthful than most of our "junk food" snacks, though, as long as they don't over-do the snacking at the risk of snubbing their more healthful regular cat food.

Speaking of healthful, three basic forms of cat food are available commercially, with a fourth form which could be considered either a meal or "treat" food. In order of their recommendation by many cat nutrition experts, they are:

  1. Fresh Raw or Freeze-Dried
    Since Pottinger's Study in the middle of the 20th century, more experts are convinced that a raw diet is best for cats. Michelle T. Bernard, author of Raising Cats Naturally, recommends her own raw diet for cats, and has fed healthy cats for well over a decade on her diet. Learn more about Home Prepared Food for Cats
  2. Canned Cat Food
    The common ingredient in raw cat food and canned cat food is water, which makes canned cat food the next best choice for cats. My personal choices for canned cat foods:
    Top Picks: Canned Food for Cats
    Top Picks: Premium Canned Kitten Food
  3. Dry Cat Food
    In today's two-earner society, with the humans away at work for long periods during the day, raw or canned foods are not always practical, so the cats are fed the best dry diets available: Top Picks: Premium Dry Foods
    Top Guide Picks: Premium Dry Foods for Kittens
    Top Picks: Grain-Free Dry Cat Foods
  4. Packets of Food with Juice or Gravy
    I have an admitted prejudice against these foods, because of the Menu Pet Food Recalls of 2007, when they were the first foods recalled. Therefore, I don't cover them on my site at the moment. However, these foods are coming into new popularity as of this writing, so watch for more information in the future. In the meantime, learn how to understand the labels on cat foods, so you can form your own informed opinions.

    Understanding Cat Food Labels
    Cat Food Ingredients to Avoid

Snacks for Cats

3. Cats Love and Need Fresh Water

Tabby Cat drinking from Drinkwell fountain
Photo Credit: © Franny Syufy

Ahhh...water, the stuff of life. Cats love cool running water, judging by the number of cats who drink out of the kitchen sink, given a chance. How much water does a cat need? Although difficult to quantify, it is likely no coincidence that about 67% of a cat's body tissue is water. Dry cat food contains minimal water, around 10%, and cats on a dry-only diet definitely need plenty of supplemental water to maintain that balance. Closely observe your cat's water intake, though, because excessive thirst cat be symptomatic of Feline Diabetes, Feline Hyperthyroidism, or Chronic Renal Failure.

Some cats even enjoy playing in water, especially breeds like Turkish Van. There is nothing inherently wrong with this activity, and if you have a water-play cat, try putting a few inches of water in a bathtub along with a handful of ice cubes to bat around on a hot day.

Water Dishes and Automated Water Fountains

Use caution when purchasing water bowls. The plastic ones can scratch easily, allowing bacteria to grow in the tiny fissures, which sometimes result in "Kitty Acne." I have never observed this with the Automated Water Fountains.

My personal preference for automated fountains is the Drinkwell Platinum. However, just like many other products, the Drinkwell and other automated fountains need regular routine care, such as cleaning and replacing filters, for many years of service.

4. Cats Must Like to Sleep

Photo of Cat Boo, Sleeping With Sun in His Eyes
Photo Credit: © snuffy107

Judging by the sheer amount of time most cats sleep every day, they really must like to sleep. It is well-known that cats sleep from fourteen to eighteen hours a day. That might seem excessive to us humans, but then most "owned" cats don't have to wake to go to work every day. Remember also that cats are nocturnal animals, and can see better at night, so sleeping during the day comes naturally, and cats may even give you wake-up calls when you are trying to sleep at night. These habits are not natural to us, which causes cat-related sleep deprivation for some humans.

5. Cats Really Enjoy Playing

Picture of Cats Playing With Peek-a-Prize Cat Toy Box
Photo Credit: © Franny Syufy

Cat play is serious fun for cats. From kittenhood on, cats will play chase, capture, and kill games with bits of lint on the floor, other kittens, shadows on the wall, moths and other insects, toys (of course) and their humans hands (which is a no-no) Cat play is a fallback to cats in the wild, where they must stalk and kill their prey in order to eat and survive. Cat toy companies keep this in mind when producing their products such as toy mice, birds, butterflies and other "prey" on pole toys, and "chase" toys, such as laser toys to chase a beam of light. Cats either have great imaginations, or they just get ingrossed in the fun of the chase.

We humans share the penchant for surrounding our own kids with toys, by buying our cats every kind of toy we see and admire. Just as I used to enjoy coloring a crayon picture alongside my daughter, I enjoy playing a game of hide-and-seek or catch with my cats. While cats enjoy playing with us, they are quite comfortable playing alone, and it is fun to sometimes catch them in the act.

Favorite Toys and Games for Cats

These are some of mine and my cats' favorite purchased toys and games:

6. Cats Love to Watch Birds

Photo of Finches Enjoying Nyje Seeds in Bird Feeder Sock
Photo Credit: © Franny Syufy

Here's a rhetorical question: Why do cats love to watch birds? Probably the main reason is that birds are prey and cats are predators. And the sight of a chirpy feathered creature hopping around on a windowsill or even a T.V. screen with alert the immediate attention of even the most bored, sleepy cat. This same propensity to chase and capture can even fascinate a cat watching birds through a window.

One of the first things my son and I did when we moved to our home in a forested area was to buy bird feeders. Our trees were full of birds we hadn't seen in our previous home: tiny yellow American Goldfinches, Chickadees, Nuthatches, Jays, and a number of other birds I haven't yet identified. We first bought the least expensive type, such as the pictured "sock" feeder filled with nyger (thistle) seed, which birds (especially Finches) love. Later, we bought three or four suet cartridges and wire mesh holders, and attractive metal hanging bird-seed holders, all of which we hung from the roof over our front porch, which is adjacent to two windows in my son's (and the male cats') bedroom. All was well, and the birds and their harmless "hunters" were happy - until this Spring, when the black bears came out of their winter sleep with their newborn cubs, and discovered the feeders filled with tasty seeds, berries, and fruit which they also love. You can read more about that encounter on this website. I've since learned a lot more, and we've taken down all but the Finch socks from our front porch, but will put them back up in late fall when the bears have gone down for their winter nap.


Ways to Attract Wild Birds to Yard

Of course, if you live in a high-rise with nary a bird to be seen, you and your cats can watch them on television.


7. Cats Revel in Clawing and Scratching

Photo of Cat Using Scratching Post
Photo Credit: © Franny Syufy

One of cats' basic needs, which they thoroughly enjoy, is scratching various surfaces to "sharpen" their claws. Actually, what happens when the time is right is that the sheath which covers cats' claws gradually loosens, and scratching dislodges it, so that it remains in the scratching post substrate, falls to the floor, or otherwise hides somewhere.

Think about how good it feels to take a long stretch when your muscles feel tight and knotted. That is another reason cats scratch - to do those stretching exercises which both relax and energize them. It always make me chuckle to see a cat come racing into the room, stand up and scratch the devil out of that post, then race ecstatically around the house.


Other Motivation for Cats' Scratching

Do you know any humans who bite their nails when worried or stressed? Cats sometimes employ scratching for the same reasons. Amy Shojai, CABC, and former Contributing Writer on Cat Behavior, explains, "Cats also claw to comfort themselves during times of fear or stress. Single cats may never or rarely scratch, and then become scratch-maniacs when more cats enter the home."


8. Cats Feel Pleasure in Grooming and Being Groomed

Photo of a Cat Grooming His Foot
Photo Credit: © iStockPhoto/knape

Nothing feels better than a hot shower to relax muscles and emerge to dry off with a fluffy Egyptian towel. Cats feel exactly the same after 15 minutes of self-grooming, or being brushed by their favorite human. The contented rumble of their purrs is evidence enough, and guess what they do when they finish? Bingo! They go to sleep'

We Can Groom Cats Too.

Most cats loved to be brushed or combed by their favorite humans. It must feel as relaxing as it feels to us to go to a spa for a shampoo and scalp massage, then visit the sauna, and enjoy a massage. One of the things to watch for with cats, though is not to overstimulate them, particularly on the lower part of the back. Some cats, particularly those inclined toward feline hyperesthesia, may run off, or turn aggressive with too much stimulation. So select your grooming tools carefully, and observe your cat's reaction, so you'll know when to stop. And just like in a human spa, offer a treat once you're finished.

9. Cats Love The One Who Pets Them

Picture of Senior Woman Petting Cat
Photo Credit: © iStockPhoto

Do you have a cat who seems to be stand-offish when you try to pet her? It's kind of sad and worrisome, isn't it? But consider this: how many times has she approached you for some lovin's and you've ignored her or removed her from the room because you were too busy? I write this with deep shame, because that happens too often with my Jenny. It's difficult trying to meet a deadline, or research, with a cat kneading tender skin on your legs, or trying to walk on the keyboard. Turnabout is fair play, so please keep that in mind the next time you are snubbed when trying to pet your cat. Also, as in grooming, when you are enjoying a petting session, keep an eye open for signs of overstimulation, or you may find yourself the victim of a little petting aggression.

10. Cats are Happier After Recovery From Illness

Veterinarian Performing Scan on Joey
Photo Credit: © DBVeterinary Clinic

If this seems like a stretch for a list of things cats like, look at it this way: sick cats are usually depressed and unhappy, but after recovery, they are happy again, full of love of life. I saw this with my Joey when he was first diagnosed with Hyperthyroidism in the Spring of 2011. Joey eventually had Radioactive Iodine Treatment, like his Uncle Bubba before him, and now, at the age of 10, Joey acts almost kittenish at times, with his zest for life.

And oh, what a wonderful feeling to know that I was quick enough to spot the signs of Joey's depression, and knew to call my veterinarian without delay.

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