How to Play with Your Kitten
Since kittens can’t jump or adeptly pounce like an adult cat, there are different techniques for encouraging playtime. During this formative time, a cat will learn proper behavior and play practices – kittens are very playful and eager to learn!
Most kittens get all the playtime they need with their littermates. If you’re considering kitten adoption, it’s highly recommended that you adopt a sibling as well; if a littermate isn’t available, any other kitten will do! This can encourage exercise later in life and will help them grow socially. If you can’t adopt a pair of kittens, it’s extremely important to somewhat recreate the sibling roughhousing that occurs. You can do this by gently wrestling with your kitten, allowing them to attack your hand; be careful though – your hand is about the size of your whole kitten!
Create a Playful Environment
Young kittens can’t jump very high, due to weaker leg muscles, but a series of low cat towers, or even well-placed cardboard boxes can encourage hours of playtime. Create a kitten playground of sorts with all kinds of boxes and toys. Hang feathers on string from doorknobs and place ping pong balls in the bathtub or a box. The empty 12-pack soda boxes can provide hours of entertainment for a young cat. Long sheets of crinkled paper will intrigue your kitten; crumple some up for “batting” practice!
A Nice Walk in the Park?
It may seem a little unorthodox, but did you know you can train your kitten to go on walks? Start by putting a collar on your kitten and letting them get used to that. A few days later, attach a leash and head outside! Make sure temperatures are between 50 and 70 degrees – any colder or hotter can upset your kitten’s delicate internal temperature. Some cats just won’t walk, no matter how young you try to instill it in them. You can tell if your kitten isn’t taking to the activity by the way they plop down and refuse to move – a “kitten tantrum,” if you will.
Proper kitten play is essential to having a well-behaved and sociable adult cat later on in life. During kittenhood, social rules and boundaries are established through the animal’s interactions with the environment and others in it. Practice appropriate playtime with your kitten, stopping if their interactions become too rough. Kittens aren’t fussy about what you play with them, just as long as you do.