Kittens are active, mischievous and totally cute - particularly when they are playing! They love to chase, pounce, hide and climb and can scoot across a room at breakneck speed when they are having fun!
When they are still in their litter, your kitty will play with their siblings - and use those playtimes to start developing their hunting and pouncing skills! Play is also a natural way for cats and kittens to stay physically fit, mentally alert and fine-tune natural behaviours and instincts that they would use in the wild.
Want to help your kitty make the most of playtime? These 9 tips will help you both to have fun together - and help your pet develop their natural skills.
1. Choose a good time!
Timing can be everything! The best time to play with your kitten is in the mornings and in the evenings as this is when they are most alert! However, you may find that anytime is playtime for a kitten!
Keep in mind, they are still babies, so keep playtime limited to short periods so that they don't get overexcited or over-exerted. You'll soon know if your kitten is not interested in playing anymore, as they will take themselves off or jump onto a high shelf out of reach. Don't try and force them to play when they have had enough!
2. Keep play sessions short
Kittens have a short attention span so keep your playtime sessions short and meaningful for them. Limit play to around 10 minutes, two or three times a day, and involve other members of the family as this also helps with kitty socialising skills.
Your furry friend will then quite happily spend the rest of their day exploring their home, eating and sleeping!
3. Try different toys
Toys that move quickly, like a ball rolling on the floor, a dangling toy mouse on the end of a string or, a cardboard box to hide in are typically popular with kittens. Try different things to discover their favourite game but change things around a bit - cats are curious and could be more likely to investigate a new toy or game rather than one they played with earlier.
Even though you are not sitting and playing with them, they can also make their own entertainment - try a cat tower where they can not only climb and jump but you can also hang toys from the tower for them to pat and play with.
4. Try homemade toys!
You will discover that cats are not fussy about what they play with, so you don't need to spend a fortune to entertain your kitten. Cardboard boxes, rolls of paper, or shine a torch or a laser pen around the room and let the kitten chase it - just be careful not to shine the light directly into their eyes, as this could be damaging. When using a torch or laser, make sure the light ends on a toy at the end of the game so your kitty 'catches' something. This will avoid kitty frustration!
5. Help them with their teething
Kittens suffer when they are teething, just like human babies. So if you find your kitten is biting your fingers during play, redirect them to a toy that is specifically designed for kittens to chew during teething. This will help you avoid any painful nips or scratches and train your kitten out of bad habits.
6. Help your kitty develop their natural skills!
Playtime is a great opportunity to help your kitten do what comes naturally to them - foraging, hiding, pouncing and hunting!
- When they are exploring a room, imagine how pleased they'll be when they find a treat hidden in a corner.
- When dangling a toy, always let them catch the toy or 'prey' at the end, as this is what would normally happen in the wild.
- Stop them from getting frustrated - make it easier to catch the toy or find the prey to start with - then maybe make it a little more difficult next time, so that they are developing their skills and having fun at the same time.
7. Redirect biting - Don't use your hands or feet as toys
When kittens are in their litter, they will naturally bite their siblings in play, but there is no doubt that even a kitten's bite can be painful, especially if it's a young child that is playing. It's important, therefore, that you discourage biting from an early age.
However, keep in mind that biting can also be a way of relieving teething pain, so if your kitty starts to bite your hands or feet, redirect them to a suitable toy that will help with teething.
8. Be safety conscious!
If you use string or ribbon during play with your kitten, make sure they don't get entangled or try to chew it. If any of the toys start to fray or break up into small pieces, discard them straight away to avoid being swallowed by your kitten.
Always keep an eye on your kitten - during play and at other times - they can sometimes get themselves into a corner or up high with no escape, and may need to be rescued! As they get older, your pet should get a little wiser, learn their limitations and not get stuck!
9. Create time to calm down after play
Make sure your kitty has a safe and quiet spot where they can calm down after some exciting play. This might be snuggled up on your lap, or in a corner of the room away from distraction.
Using a FELIWAY Optimum Diffuser in your home will help to provide reassurance and comfort to your kitten and help them feel safe and happy. FELIWAY contains the copy of the happy pheromone which will support your kitten as they grow and learn, and help them feel relaxed and peaceful at home.