It’s really important to play with your cat a few times a day, play provides entertainment and exercise and can help with behavioural problems, but foremost your cat is a predator and so every once in a while those predatory instincts need satisfying, play is a great way to do this and give your cat as natural and fulfilling a life as possible. It’s also a great way to get to know your cats personality which will help you to understand the things they get up to.
Cats have 5 different types of play; solitary play by themselves which is basically running around, playing by themselves with an object such as a soft toy or a ball, playing with other cats which can be seen in behaviours such as chasing and playfighting, social play with humans like wand games and catch the ball, and investigation games, which usually involve poking their noses into your wardrobe, any boxes you have around and whatever other spaces they can get their whiskers into.
These types of play mimic actions and behaviours they would use in the wild, some clever person somewhere has labelled this the predatory sequence, which follows the sequence of – search, stalk, chase, pounce, catch and manipulate, and for complete happiness this sequence should be followed in your play sessions and the end should always be the same, the cat has to catch the toy. It would appear that games that do not fulfil this sequence (such as the red dot) can be frustrating for your cat, so I’d say it’s probably not the most fun game for your cat.
It’s recommended that cats should have 30-45 minutes of play spread out throughout the day, if you have an “inside” cat then you might want to lean towards the 45 minutes end of the scale.
Cats love rapid and unpredictably moving objects so when you pick toys try to get ones that you can manipulate for your cat. They also like novelty, so lots of toys, picked at random and taken away at the end of the play session is the best way to keep your cat interested. Toys left out will lose their appeal and become boring, so keep a space in your cat hoard to keep your toys stowed away in.