Playing with your kitten is a lot of fun, it’s educational and it stimulates the bonding process. Do keep a close eye on safety during play, both for yourself and your cat. How to safely play with your kitten? Here are our tips!
Safe for your kitten
When playing with your kitten, mind its safety. Here is what to pay attention to.
Are the toys safe? Make sure the toys you use do not have any sharp edges or points, do not contain any poisonous substances (dye) or loose parts and do not pose a risk of entanglement or choking.
Is the environment safe? Get rid of any poisonous plants. Do you play outside or regularly leave your kitten outside on its own? Make sure you have a safe garden. A lot of cats like to have a hiding spot when they play, so they can spy on their toy from a distance. Make sure your ‘playground’ offers the cat enough hiding spots where it feels safe. A cardboard box will make for a lot of fun, success guaranteed!
Safe for you
You need to make sure that not only your cat is safe during play, but you as well. Safe play with a kitten involves implementing a number of rules:
Your hands and feet are not toys. Never allow your kitten to bite your hands or feet during play; otherwise it will be very difficult to unlearn later on. Still overly interested in your hands or feet? Teach your cat these are not toys by distracting it with a real toy every time it focuses on your foot or hand. This will prevent unnecessary biting behaviour.
Pay attention to warning signs
When a cat is done playing or is getting frustrated, it will usually make this abundantly clear before proceeding to bite or scratch. Signals of a frustrated cat:
• swinging tail: your cat is angry;
• elevated back: your cat is frightened and angry;
• hissing: your cat is anxious;
• walking away: an indication your cat is done.
If your cat does one of these things, leave it alone. It doesn’t want to play anymore. Forced play will only frustrate your cat which will not make for a very fun experience for either of you.
Cats and kids
Children tend to love playing with or hugging a cat or kitten. Your cat will probably appreciate the enthusiasm to play, but be careful. Cats often need to get used to the loud noises and unexpected moves that children can make (especially if your cat did not grow up with children in the house). If your cat doesn’t want to play anymore or becomes aggressive and the children continue to ‘play’, it will often resort to scratching or biting. This turns the game into a negative experience both for the child and the cat. Not ideal. So, before letting them play with the cat, teach the children how to spot the cat’s warning signs. As long as they keep this in mind, enthusiasm from both sides is guaranteed. Because safe play with your kitten is extremely educational and fun both for children and for your kitten.
Tip: Keep the play interesting by stowing away the toys after playing and alternating between different toys on a regular basis.