When I was a kid, there was nothing more fun and exciting than playing a game of chase with your friends.
As a cat owner, I noticed that many of my cats enjoy being chased by me or another pet at home.
It might just seem like a silly fun game to you, but what does it mean from your cat’s perspective?
Do cats genuinely enjoy the thrill of the chase, or is there more to this game than meets the eye?
Many cats enjoy being chased due to their high energy levels and child like playfulness. However, some cats might not like it as it can make them feel hunted by bigger prey. It’s crucial to observe your cat’s reactions to ensure they feel safe and not threatened during such interactions.
But not all chases are created equal.
Discover the fine line between a cat’s playful sprint and a fearful dash in this article.
Do Cats Like Being Chased?
It strongly depends on the personality of your cat. A laid back, playful and high energy cat can enjoy a game of chase with its owner.
It gives the cat a sense of excitement and thrill. Whereas a cat that is more high strung and anxious might not appreciate engaging in playing chase at all.
It is important to look out for behavioral signals in your cat.
Your cat won’t verbally spell it out for you but you can tell how your cat is feeling most of the time via its body language.
Body Language Of A Willing Cat
If your cat likes playing chase, your cat’s body language will show through in this regard.
Your cat will be on high alert, its tail might be tall and puffy, its eyes wide open and dilated and its body turned sideways.
Your cat will also be hopping, jumping and sprinting back and forth trying to play cat tag with you.
You can sense that your cat is being playful and full of energy.
Body Language Of An Unwilling Cat
If you have a cat that isn’t so keen on playing chase with you or a ‘scaredy cat’, rest assured that it will make it known.
This can usually be seen in cats that have some anxiety disorder and don’t like being made to feel that they are in danger or threatened.
Your cat will have its ears pulled back, hissing, showing its fangs and claws, tail puffed up and between its legs.
Once you see your cat behaving in this manner, it would be in your best interest to stop playing chase with your cat and let it calm down.
Something has obviously spooked your cat and it is in a defensive mood.
Why Do Cats Like Being Chased?
To comprehend this need for play-chasing, we must dive deep into your cat’s evolutionary roots, playful nature and personality.
1. It’s In the Genes
Cats are one of the top predators in the animal kingdom with a high success rate.
While your feline friend does not have to hunt for its dinner anymore, its wild instincts are still present.
Kittens will often engage in play-fights and chase each other. This helps to refine their hunting prowess and master the art of pursuit.
2. Cats Are Playful
Some cats just can’t resist a good game of chase.
My cat loves hiding around the corner waiting for me to walk by before pouncing at my ankles.
He will then attempt to make me chase him around the house by running towards and away from me repeatedly.
Every cat owner has also witnessed times when their cats explode with so much energy when having zoomies.
Try chasing your cat during these times and that can make them super excited.
3. Bonding And Social Interaction
Even though cats aren’t considered to be pack animals like dogs, you are still considered part of the cat family or butler to be exact.
By involving you in chase games, your cat is extending an invitation into its world.
It’s also common to witness your cat playing chase with your other pets such as a cat or dog for fun.
Joining your cat in these antics can be an excellent way to strengthen your bond together.
While your cat might seem aloof and independent, it genuinely seeks attention and affection from their owners.
4. Personal Preferences
Of course, not every cat has the same affinity for chase.
Every cat is different and some might prefer ogling at birds through the window than being chased for fun.
Always be mindful of your cat’s reactions.
If it seems disinterested or distressed, it’s wise to switch to a different activity that it can actually enjoy.
Do Cats Know When You’re Playing?
Most cats are intuitive enough to know that you are just being ‘cat-like’ and playful with them.
However, there are some occasions when you should not try and engage in play chase.
You Have Yet To Socialize Your Cat
If you have just adopted a new cat, you don’t really want to engage in behavior that might scare off your cat before it is properly socialized and settled in its new surroundings.
Cats are very sensitive animals and can take some time to adjust and settle in.
Scaring the cat by playing before it sees you as friendly can jeopardize the socialization process.
This is even more true for cats who have been hoarded or come from an abusive past.
It is always better to give it more time than take it too fast.
Your Cat Plays Too Aggressively
There was a time when my cat was getting too aggressive during our playtime and I had to put a stop to it.
Cats can get carried away during play chase and can scratch or bite you without realizing it.
When cats play with other cats, they can let each other know when they are playing too hard.
But it can be harder for a human parent and only cat relationship.
Kittens that get taken away from their mother and littermates too early usually develop some form of aggressive behavior as adult cats.
When this happens, it is best to teach your cat that such behavior cannot be tolerated.
You can tell your cat in a firm voice or gently spray a fine mist of water at it.
After a few behavioral training sessions, your cat will start to realize that it should not be using its claws and teeth too aggressively when playing.
You can then resume your normal play chase sessions once your cat is gentler.
When To Stop Chasing Your Cat?
I would think that for most cat owners, most cats won’t last more than 30 minutes playing the chasing games.
I’m lucky to even get 5 minutes out of my cat before he gets distracted by something more interesting like my slipper.
However, if you have a young cat or a kitten, they can play for a lot longer than an adult cat.
In fact, a kitten has four times more energy than an adult cat.
So if your adult cat can last for 20 minutes, you can expect a kitten to last for almost an hour. That can be rather tiring for most humans.
There can be times when playing too long and hard with your cat can cause overstimulation.
Just like when petting or rubbing your cat’s belly for too long can start to feel uncomfortable for your cat.
This is because a cat has more nerve endings in its body which makes them sensitive to external stimulation.
If you notice that your cat is starting to gravitate from being playful to aggressive, stop playing with it immediately and take a short break.
Let your cat reset itself before continuing.
What If I Can’t Chase My Cat?
It is understandable if you can’t chase or keep up with your cat during play time.
You might have a high energy cat that can go on for hours without feeling tired.
In this case, it would be advisable to get your cat some interactive games or toys to keep it stimulated.
Many cats go crazy when playing with a laser pointer. What drives them up the wall is that they can’t catch the red dot even though their paw is over it.
This results in many long periods of chasing the red dot till it expands its pent up energy.
Sometimes cats can even start running away from the red dot when they can’t catch it, resulting in some funny moments.
Another good interactive toy to have is something that you can control remotely. A toy that resembles a small prey would be a good choice.
This will fire up your cat’s natural instinct to chase and be chased by something that has even more energy than it.
When Is Chasing My Cat Harmful?
There are some cat owners who think that scaring their cats while playing chase is a good idea.
You can surprise your cat at times which adds to the fun of play chase.
But going all out to shock, frighten or scare your poor kitty can result in negative consequences.
Cats are already rather jumpy creatures and trying to scare a cat that already has anxiety issues can cause them to be less sociable and develop behavioral issues.
The last thing that you want happening is giving your cat new phobias.
Factors That Influence Your Cat’s Playfulness
When it comes to playfulness, not all cats are made equal. There are a number of factors that can determine how into play chasing a cat is.
This would be the strongest determining factor for any cat breed. Kittens in general are already more playful than adult cats.
They are also honing and perfecting their hunting skills which makes playing chase with their siblings even more important.
All that a kitten wants to do is run, chase, climb, tumble and play.
However, having an adult cat doesn’t mean that you should let it be inactive.
It is good to play with your adult cat to bring out the kitten in it.
Furthermore, some playtime as they get older can help keep their joints and muscles in good condition.
The next most important factor is the breed of your cat.
There are some cat breeds that are naturally curious and have high energy levels. There are also cat breeds that rather spend the day chilling next to you on the sofa.
Here are the top most playful and high energy breeds:
- Abyssinian cat
- American Bobtail
- Balinese cat
- Bengal cat
- Burmese cat
- Siamese cat
- Cornish and Devon Rex
- Egyptian Mau
- Savannah cat
And here are the top cat breeds that are known to be less energetic:
- Persian cat
- Maine Coon
- Britsh Shorthair
- Selkirk Rex
Now that you more or less know what breeds are more playful, it would be good to choose a cat breed that suits your personality as well.
Don’t get a high energy breed when you are someone that likes being a couch potato and vice versa.
Will Cats Chase You If You Run?
Cats are innately driven by their predatory instincts and sudden movements. Your cat seeing you run can trigger its urge to chase you.
This reaction is often rooted in curiosity, playfulness or their hunting nature.
Some cats might view a running human as an invitation for a playful game and can give chase.
Do Cats Enjoy Playing Hide And Seek?
Yes, cats enjoy playing hide and seek if they like being chased and vice versa.
You can’t really play the traditional version of hide and seek whereby your cat will hide while you count to 20.
I doubt even dogs can do that.
What you can do is provide your cat with many places for it to hide while you pretend to find it.
Get a few empty cardboard boxes and cut holes in them large enough for your cat to pass through.
Join them together to form a little fortress for your cat to hide inside.
Playing chase with your cat can be a great way to bond with your cat and let it expand its energy.
Cats that get more playtime with their owners tend to be more well socialized and healthy.
One thing that cat owners should be aware of is their cat’s social cues during playtime. Any form of aggressive behavior should be corrected.
Keep an eye out for your cat’s exhaustion level as well.
If you see your cat breathing heavily or panting hard with its mouth open, take a break and let your cat recover.
Remember to have fun with your cat and let the kitten in you out every now and then.