Playing with Kittens: Guide for New Cat Parents

Playing with Kittens: Guide for New Cat Parents 1 -
Playing with Kittens: Guide for New Cat Parents 1 -

Playing with Kittens: Guide for New Cat Parents

What’s up, my friend! I’m so pumped you decided to get a kitten. Playing with the little furballs is the best! But I know it can be overwhelming trying to figure out how to keep them entertained and healthy. Well, you came to the right place. I’ve had cats my whole life, so allow me to bless you with my wisdom on how to properly play with kittens.

Make Playtime a Daily Habit

Playing with Kittens: Guide for New Cat Parents 2 -
Playing with Kittens: Guide for New Cat Parents 2 –

Look, I get it. Life gets busy. But carving out some time to play with your kitten every single day is clutch for both of you. Not only does it strengthen your bond, but it also keeps them active and engaged. Don’t you feel better after you exercise or do something fun? The same goes for cats!

My little dude Oliver will straight-up attack my feet in bed if I slack on playtime. He lives for that special kitty play sesh at 6 pm. Try setting a routine too. It builds anticipation and excitement! But if you miss a day here and there, don’t sweat it. Just get back on track as soon as you can.

Toys Toys Toys! (But Choose Wisely)

One of the best parts about getting a kitten is picking out fun new toys! However, safety should be a top priority. Avoid anything too tiny they could swallow or stringy pieces that could get tangled in their insides. My friend’s cat needed emergency surgery once because she ate a piece of yarn. $3,000 later…not worth it!

I suggest stocking up on a variety of wand toys, plush balls, toy mice, and interactive puzzles. They’ll batt those things all around the house! My preferred brand is Pet Stages because their toys hold up well against my kitties’ sharp claws and teeth.

Hands Off! Use Cat Toys Only

See your kitten attacking and chewing your hands and fingers? As cute as it is, try your best not to encourage this behavior by playing back. It may lead to painful scratches or bites down the road. I made that mistake with my very first cat, Simba. He was a chronic hand attacker as an adult because I let him play rough with me as a kitten.

Whenever your kitten starts treating you like a toy, whip out the Da Bird wand or crinkle ball instead. You’ll preserve your skin, and they’ll learn to channel that energy into appropriate toys.

Morning Kitties vs. Night Owls

Pay attention to when your fur baby seems most energetic and in the mood to play. Capitalize on those moments for your play sessions. Oliver lives up to the “crazy cat in the morning” stereotype. He runs and parks off the walls as I’m getting ready for work. So, I make sure to play with him when he’s already revised up.

Many kittens get the “zoomies” before meals, too. And some are more night owls, ready to hunt and pounce right before bed. Learn your specific kitten’s habits and sync playtime accordingly for peak enjoyment all around.

Keep It Short and Sweet

Kittens tire out faster than they let on. I’d say keep play sessions between 5-15 minutes maximum, then let them chill and recover. Watch their body language carefully. You’ll notice when their reaction time slows down, or they seem less interested in chasing toys. Don’t overwhelm them with too much high-intensity play at once.

With my more timid foster kittens, I do even shorter bursts of play, like two minutes. We gradually build up endurance over time as they gain confidence. Every cat’s stamina is different, so find what works best!

Supplementary Solo Play

That’s why it’s important to also provide self-play options when you’re cooking, working, or out running errands. Rotating puzzle feeders, crinkle balls, and toy mice keep boredom and mischief at bay.

I’m obsessed with the Ripple Rug interactive plush pad. It has various textures to stimulate kitty paws and a hidden compartment to stash toys. Keeps them occupied for at least 20 minutes at a time! But supervision is still advised in case they get carried away scratching stuff.

Switch It Up! Variety Is Key

In my experience, kittens get tired of the same ol’ toys and games pretty quickly. I try to continuously mix it up to pique their interest. The wand feather toy they once loved might not capture their attention anymore. Out comes the laser pointer or catnip banana! You can also rotate toys in and out of circulation.

And don’t just stick to one play space. Create adventure zones around the house using blankets, boxes, and tunnels. Hide-and-seek is a classic hit! Challenge their mind and environment, not just their bodies.

Treats Add Extra Motivation!

Some kittens need a little extra push when it comes to playtime. And what better motivator than tasty treats? Incorporate small bites into puzzles and reward good play behavior with a bonanza of freeze-dried chicken. But go easy on the snacks since too many can lead to obesity.

I designate part of their meal kibbles specifically for “working” on treat balls or finding hidden kibble trails. This way they earn their food through play and mental stimulation. Two birds, one stone!

Keep Toys Moving!

Prey drive activates their inner hunter. Make toys zip, leap, hide, and reappear in unexpected places. Drag wand toys sporadically on the floor then lift them up high. Balls with automatic motors provide consistent movement so you don’t have to constantly manually wave things around.

And please don’t just dangle toys limply in their face. Replicate prey movement! Quick, darting motions are ideal to trigger their instincts to stalk and pounce. Have fun with it and be as energetic as they are!

Engage All Kitty Senses

Cats experience the world differently than humans. So, engage all their senses when playing! Auditory stimulation is important, so make sure toys crinkle, squeak, or jingle. Appeal to their powerful sense of smell with catnip toys. Touch – Include a variety of textures from furry mice to crinkly balls.

Puzzle feeders also tap into scent, touch, and sound senses. The more senses stimulated, the greater the mental enrichment. I always make sure to incorporate multi-sensory elements into my cat play sets!

Safety First!

Before freeing your kitten to go wild, thoroughly kitten-proof your space first. Get on their level and scan for dangers. Tuck away any loose wires or toxic house plants. Make sure spaces behind and under furniture are sealed so they don’t get stuck or lost. No small, ingestible objects lying around either!

Provide ample vertical spaces to climb and appropriate scratching posts for digging claws. A prepared, hazard-free environment means fewer worries and more carefree fun for all of you!

Play = Health Monitoring!

Here’s a little life hack for you. Playtime doubles as the perfect opportunity to check in on your kitten’s health! As they run around, take note of their mobility, breathing, energy levels, and overall body condition. Any decrease in play drive or acting strangely could indicate brewing illness.

Don’t forget to check ears, eyes, teeth, paws, bellies, etc., during periodic hands-on inspections. Early detection of issues prevents bigger problems down the line! So seriously, pat yourself on the back for staying on top of play. It’s an investment in their wellness, too.

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