The Holy Grail of playing with your cat is to achieve the situation in which your cat growls when she catches the ‘prey’ (a cat tease) telling you that her ‘raw cat’ has been activated.
What Jackson Galaxy advocates is to mimic as accurately as possible how prey would react in the presence of a domestic cat hunting it. He says that this takes commitment and it can’t be done while watching television or talking with somebody else! I get the message.
I think it’s easier to visualise how a mouse behaves when hunted by a cat than a bird. It is not too difficult to imagine because quite a percentage of us have to deal with that difficult moment when your cat brings a mouse into the home in her jaws and then releases it into the living room.
What happens next? The mouse invariably runs off (if it is still alive) under an item of furniture or perhaps runs along the skirting board to a corner where it tries to hide. The mouse will search for any hiding place. Your cat chases manically. When the mouse has find a sanctuary your cat will sit patiently waiting opposite the item of furniture under which the mouse has hidden in the expectation that it will emerge. This is the waiting game form of domestic cat hunting.
He may place his paw under the furniture to try and grab the mouse or force it into the open. The reason why I’m describing this sort of behaviour is because a cat’s human guardian needs to replicate the movements of a mouse using a cat tease to point were the cat indicates that she genuinely is dealing with live prey. For example your cat might growl in order to protect her prey. Of course it’s not real prey, it’s a tease of some sort but if your cat has become sufficiently excited in the hunt then you have succeeded.
What the cat’s owner is trying to achieve is to motivate their cat to behave in an entirely natural way when playing. So for instance the cat tease could be activated underneath a piece of furniture or it could be kept still for a while as if the mouse is paralysed with fear to give your cat a chance to attack and grab.
Then the cat tease could be placed behind an object so your cat, from say about three paces away, sees it and prepares for a pounce with the classic butt wiggle. If the cat owner is able to mimic a mouse’s behaviour accurately then this should stimulate natural hunting behaviour in their cat. Jackson Galaxy calls it the ‘raw cat’ and he wants to see it because he then knows that the cat is able to express what she would express if she was in the wild. The beauty is that it happens in the safety of the home; the Holy Grail of cat play-hunting.
P.S. Jackson uses the phrase ‘Holy Grail’ to describe the perfect end result. In terms of play it might be when your cat growls at you with the cat tease or toy mouse in her mouth in defence of her prey.