Most cats prefer to hunt specific creatures. For example, some cats prefer to chase mice, while others may prefer to catch birds or bugs. Identifying your cat's "prey preference" allows you to buy or make toys that your cat will be more likely to play with rather than ignore.
You can identify your cat's prey preference by paying close attention to the way he/she reacts to toys with specific qualities:
Find a number of toys or objects that resemble birds. Examples include feathers, stuffed toys covered in feathers, objects suspended in air, and toys making chirping noises. Entice your cat to play by making each object move and fly through the air. Does your cat follow the object? Does he/she follow all of the objects or ignore most of them? Take note.
Next, put those objects out of kitty's sight, and try objects resembling mice, such as fur, stuffed animals, furry mice, and balls. How does your cat react when you make each of these objects move? Does kitty want to chase it? Or is he/she waiting for you to bring the feathers back out?
Try both "bird toys" and "mouse toys" at the same time by alternating them about every 20 seconds. Which does kitty prefer? Does he/she prefer some of each kind? Maybe she prefers both birds and mice!
Finally, put all of these toys away, and try toys resembling bugs. You can try a laser toy, a string with a knot on the end, and some dry food or treats tossed across the floor. How does your cat react? Try to alternate with "bird toys" and "mouse toys" to see which prey is best.
If your cat seems to enjoy f eathers and/or objects in the air, choose toys resembling birds. If your cat prefers furry toys and/or toys moving on the ground, choose objects resembling mice. If your cat likes tiny objects with lots of movement, choose toys resembling bugs.
Be creative! Once you know what types of creatures your cat would like to hunt, think of the qualities those creatures possess and find toys with the same qualities. Think like a cat! When you look for potential toys for your cat, imagine what kind of animal it might resemble. After all, a ball of paper is not just a ball of paper… it's lunch!
This exercise should take only a few minutes for most cats, but as you learn to think like a cat, you may change what you think about your cat's prey preference.
If you are successful, you will be able to find the toys that make kitty want to play! If your cat loses interest, try a new toy with the same prey characteristics.
If your cat is still not interested, try offering a different kind of prey. Your cat may enjoy a variety!