On the prowl

Whether chasing dinner or diving for dust bunnies, cats love the game of pursuit. Big cats, like lions and cheetahs, learn to prowl for their prey in the same way that little cats do: they practice. They master the basics of stalking, chasing, pouncing and shredding through daily play.

From the time a kitten rears up on wobbly hind legs to gain the advantage over one of their fellow playmates, until well into adulthood, cats never seem to lose their keen fascination with movement, light and shadow, and the element of surprise.

Practicing Being Stealthy

As surprising as it sounds, cats actually have to practice stealth as well. In the wild, cats often lose out on a meal because their prey can run faster and farther than they can. These cats' only other alternative is to rely on their instinctive feline ability to blend into their surroundings and remain perfectly still until an unwary target happens by.

Cats have many astounding talents that develop with age. A mature cat's eye captures three times more light than a human eye does. They hear five times better than we do, too. In fact, a cat's hearing is three times more acute – especially when it comes to high-pitched sounds – than even the most sensitive dog.

Chase, Catch and Claw

Though they have no need to catch a meal, domestic cats enjoy prowling as a form of play. Just like practicing a sport helps keep people feeling more alive and alert, playing keeps cats of all ages healthy and in good physical condition. It also does much in helping prevent boredom, which often leads to mischief.

Cat owners should provide their pets with plenty of opportunities to play, and make sure there are ample toys available to maintain their cat's physical motivation. Without this outlet, cats may be prone to destructive behavior, or complete lethargy.

So the next time your cat cues you to clear out the toy box and play, go ahead and have a ball. After all, little cats, like big cats, need the stimulation of play to be at their very best.