Do you find or create the time to play with your cat when you are at home? As the good-natured joke goes, the dog may be man’s best friend, but the cat is the whole family’s best friend.
Cats are one of the most social creatures that the family loves to keep for company and entertainment. Cats have human feelings too and can sense when we are happy or sad. They want to be loved, and they are willing to reciprocate. Of course, I don’t mean the wild or stray cats.
You need a cat as much as you need a dog in your home.
Why Should I Play with My Cats?
Like humans, cats can be serious and thoughtful at times. But they also have fun moments when they want to jump around, dance or be tickled in the right places. This is especially true for kittens. Like your kids, kittens do not have much to worry about. Playing is their most serious occupation.
At such times, it is a pity if you let your kittens alone. You should join them in play, not only to make them feel good emotionally but also to strengthen the bond between them and you.
The more you play with your kitten, the more you learn about her personality, and she too gets to understand you. This friendship is essential if you are going to be friends forever.
Through play, they get to learn useful skills like self-defense, to stalk, and to attack. All that will help them in life once their mother sets them free to face the world. Knowing that will inform your understanding of the direction the plays should be geared towards. Playing with your kitten is not as simple as you may think.
Specific forms of playing put them off or bore them outright, once they realize they are acquiring no useful skills from them.
However, the right plays excite them, and in the process they let off steam (cats get depressed), lose excess weight in the exercise that comes with it and improve their behavior patterns or attitude. An idle mind is the devil’s workshop. It is true even for kittens.
They develop lousy behavior like pulling curtains or scratching your feet. They also acquire an “attitude” when all they do is eating then sit to get fat. They grow to become lazy cats that poop on the sofas. This is especially true for cats living in apartments with limited outdoor space.
Simple Ways to Play With Your Kittens
The following tips should help you learn enjoyable ways to play with your kittens:
The more kittens grow, the more they direct their play towards objects. They want things to pounce on, strangle, or bite. In short, they are learning to hunt.
Cats are domesticated predators. They have the instinct that they will one day have to kill or defend themselves from another killer, like a snake. So the kittens will always reach a point they want to grasp objects.
You can make their play with objects more thrilling by giving them toys. With toys, they get to learn eye and foot coordination. You can buy a toy that resembles a mouse.
Nothing gets a kitten more thrilled as the idea that she is already old enough to hunt a mouse. It also helps if you hold the mouse and try to make it escape in unpredictable ways from the “giant shark” that the kitten imagines she is.
This is also the time to teach your kitten hiding skills. Pretend the mouse toy is coming back and is not seeing the kitten, which will hide and try to camouflage, only to pounce on the unsuspecting victim at the right time.
Once in a while, let the kitten catch her prey. This will make the play exciting. If she never gets the time to win, she will get bored and let you play alone!
Apart from an artificial mouse, you can also use a small ball, whose rolling will excite the kitten. Bouncing the ball will also get her jumping up and down with it, trying to grab it mid-air. She can imagine it is a duel with a cobra and dive on the ball so swiftly like it is a matter of life and death.
An artificial fish and fishing pole is another form of toy kittens enjoy playing with. As you dangle the bait up, the kitten will jump up to catch it. They get to learn to jump in the process.
Make sure you do not raise the string too high otherwise the kitten will lose interest in the play if they miss each time they jump.
Kittens also enjoy playing with attractive or bright toys. While other kittens love toys that can make a sound or shake, others get startled if the movements are sudden. So it would be best if you took your time to understand your kitten.
There are also certain chemicals that you can rub on the toys to attract the kittens to them. The kittens love certain smells; for instance, the smell of an herb called catnip.
Like your children, the kitten will, at some point, get bored with the same toy, so it is advisable to buy plenty of the toys and replace each over time. Nobody enjoys the same fun day in day out.
Use Climbing Poles
Cats are climbers, and so kittens have to learn to be climbers at an early age. At some point in her nine lives, your kitten will one day have to climb a tree to escape a rabid dog or any other form of harm.
Give your kitten the necessary objects to climb for fun and to learn climbing skills. You can put an ideal (tall and rough-textured, for instance) pole she can easily climb. Apart from climbing, she can also exercise and strengthen her paws by scratching the pole.
Here is another climbing pole worth considering.
Meowing and Tender Touches
You can also keep your kitten entertained by meowing lovingly at her as you rub her softly. That communicates love feelings to her and improves bonding.
As you play with your kitten, make sure you do not over-do it. When the kitten has had enough fun, let her go her way. Do not force her.
As already explained, cats also have mood swings, just like humans. Let them play when they are in the playing mood. Generally, the kitten will concentrate on a particular lay for about 5-6 minutes.