Why Won't My Cat Play Anymore?



Has your cat stopped playing as much as they used to? Do they just sit there and watch as you wiggle a toy in a vain attempts to capture their attention? We're here to help figure out why that might be and how you can help get your cat playing again.

Consider Their Age

If you've raised your cat from a kitten, you might be used to the high-energy levels of "kittenhood". As cats enter into adulthood, they tend to calm down in terms of activity level. So if your adult cat is playing less than they did as a kitten, this is pretty normal behavior. Some adult cats are way more playful than others, and each cat is unique.

For even older cats, certain age-related issues such as arthritis can reduce a cat's interest in play and reduce their activity. Consider low-impact methods of play, such as hiding their favorite treats and encouraging your cats to forage for them! 


Consider Their Weight

Just like humans, an overweight or obese cat might find exercising difficult - they're small creatures, after all, and adding all that extra weight can make it hard to easily move around, never mind run and jump to chase a toy. If your cat is overweight, talk to your vet about getting them on an appropriate diet to help them shed some extra pounds in a healthy way. It's not good for overweight cats to lose weight too quickly, as it can lead to hepatic lipidosis. Getting your cat to lose weight will go a long way for their health and wellbeing in general, but you may find they have much more energy than before and start playing again - which can help them lose weight, too! 


Finding the Right Toys

Each cat is unique and has their individual preferences, especially when it comes to toys. My cat has never shown interest in wand-type toys, but her absolute favorite game is pushing jingle balls off the table and making me bring the ball back to her so she can knock it down all over again. 

It's a matter of finding what types of play, and what types of toys, appeal to your cat. 

Cats are natural-born hunters that are hardwired to hunt and stalk prey. Consider toys that imitate the movements of real prey. These types of toys can range from feather wands and flyers that resemble a bird in flight to battery-operated toys that offer interactive, prey-like movement and sound. It may take some experimenting to see which types of toys appeal most to your favorite feline.

If your cat is a keen birdwatcher, they might like a feathered flyer toy. If your cat likes to grab at your arm and bite and kick, encourage them instead with a kicker toy, designed for just this instinct.


Consider the Scent! 

Cats rely heavily on scent. If your cats are bored of their more traditional toys, freshen them up by changing their scent! Catnip is a great way to add a bit of stimulation and excitement to your cat's day that can make an old toy feel like new! Did you know that only about 70% of cats respond to catnip? If you've tried catnip and your cat doesn't react, consider silver vine, a catnip alternative with two cat attractants (whereas catnip has one). Some cats prefer silver vine to catnip, and it has the same effects

Let Them Catch The Toy!

Imagine if someone kept dangling your favorite snack in front of you, just out of reach, and never let you actually get to eat it! I'd be pretty frustrated. That's exactly how cats feel when their owners don't ever let them actually catch the toy. It can be easy to get caught up in the fun of playing and not realizing that you're not actually letting your kitty win. An important part of the "hunt" is, well, the catch! It'll let your cat think they're a very efficient predator and ensure your kitty has a more satisfying playtime session. 


Rotate their toys. 

Just like us humans, cats can get tired of the same ol' toys. A cat's brain is programmed to absorb everything they see, hear, touch, and taste. So of your cat's toys are left out every day for your cat to play with and it's always the same smells, textures, tastes, etc), things can get boring pretty fast. It's called "toy fatigue."

To help avoid toy fatigue, try rotating out your cat's toys! Instead of leaving toys out all the time, give your cat a select few toys to play with at a time and put others out of sight. Old toys can be rotated back in as something "new", or even freshened up with a bit of catnip or silver vine to make the toys seem even more enticing. 

It may take a bit of trial and error and observation, but you'll get your kitty back on their paws and playing again in no time!  


  • Laurie Zinkel

    My cat is 15 years old. He is a Ragdoll and not overweight. Last year in September we lost our other older cat Sammy to a straight out heart attack. He died in my arms reaching for a treat like he had done so many times before. Then in December 2022 my husband died of Lymphoma a horrible illness that some Leukemics can add to the leukemia, it’s usually fatal, but my husband fought his hardest and he lost to this horrific complication. He was really sick from March of 2022 until he passed December2nd. My Ragdoll was very close to him, so he was moping around a lot. He sleeps so much more than before. I try to interest him every night with some playing, but he is only interested for about 5 at the most minutes. I know he is depressed. I was thinking of buying another older cat to be a companion to him, but my vet thinks that will stress him out even more. I am at a loss as to what I can do to stimulate his brain for just a little bit each day. I also have 2 chihuahuas that love him and he allows them to lick him, clean his ears. I would just like any suggestions as to what may help him get out of this funk, unless he is suppose to be acting like this at his ripe age of 15. He is very attentive and follows commands like a dog. I love him to pieces and would love to try a toy with that silver stuff that was mentioned on your website. What would be the best toy to try because he really does not respond to cat nip, I even tried cat nip bubbles. His attention span is so short. He looks at a few then just slowly walks away once again. I bought him the cat bed with the fruit in it, it did not impress him one bit. I am at a loss as to how to keep him happy in his golden years. Would an older male cat help or is that an awful idea? I just do not know where to go with this question. My vet told me that he is older and is just totally slowly shutting down. Please help with any suggestions if you think of some. Thank you ahead of time so very much to anyone that can offer any ideas.
    Laurie Z.

  • Sue E Kilcrease

    how old are cats before they slow down?? my hand raised siblings are 3 years old and still run around like they are 3 month old kittens

  • Meowingtons

    Hi Zeegee! That is a great suggestion. We’ve updated the article to include this!

  • zeegee

    Surprised “Consider their weight” wasn’t listed. We had a chonky girl who got back into play mode once she shed a coulple of pounds

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