Interactive toys and playing with your kitten
There are plenty of interactive toys available for playing with your kitten, from cat wands, to mice that you pull the tab on and race across the room for your kitten to chase. Spending time with your kitten while playing with toys such as these helps to build a healthy bond, through fun, positive experiences.
With new toys it’s important to let your kitten investigate the toy so they learn what it is. When you first begin playing with your kitten, they may be a little shy, so take it slow until they build confidence. Simply dangle the toy in front of your kitten or rest it on the ground and jiggle it a little so the toy appears to be moving. Once your kitten starts to show interest in the toy, you can speed up and make the game more difficult.
If your kitten grabs the toy and tries to walk away with it, you can let them keep it, but keep an eye on them to ensure they don’t destroy the toy or eat any bits off. Some kittens are more dedicated than others at keeping their toys and may have favourites they fiercely protect.
Some kittens will play fetch. Find their favourite toy (often fur mice, or small foam balls work best), get them interested and call them back to you once they have their toy. As your bond with your kitten grows, they should be more inclined to come back to you with their prized possession. If your kitten doesn’t want to play fetch, don’t be dissuaded as some kittens just don’t play that way.
Find the toy and type of game that best suits your kitten and play with them lots. Kittens are growing and their energy is ever increasing as they test their boundaries and ensuring they have the right outlet for this energy is important.
Things to consider:
- Have you got the right toys available to play with your kitten?
- Remember to introduce your kitten to the toy and let them interact with it
Varieties and rotation of toys
Rotating toys is a great way to keep your kitten interested in toys without having to buy new ones every time your kitten appears to get bored of an ‘old’ toy. Taking them out of rotation from your kitten and reintroducing them back is a simple way for your kitten to get new toys. Spraying toys with catnip may also improve interest in the toys.
After a week or two of having a toy out for your kitten, take the toy away and hide it somewhere safe, this will ensure your kitten cannot find it. Meanwhile, introduce a new toy to your kitten. Some toys may be washable ensuring it appears even more fresh and new, therefore potentially adding more fun.
As with any toy, if they look damaged, are worn out or have bits coming off, they will need to be thrown out, so it does not pose a safety risk for your kitten.
Things to consider:
- Do you have enough toys for toy rotation?
- Are the toys washable?
- Do you have catnip?
Socialisation with children
Introducing your kitten properly with children is important, for the safety and experience of both sides. Whenever a child meets a kitten, it’s important they are calm and settled before bringing the kitten out to meet them. Have the child sit with their arms and legs crossed so they’re not tempted to grab the kitten and are at a lower level to let the kitten investigate.
Ask the child to speak softly and gently call the kitten over, allowing it to come and sniff them. Soft words of encouragement should entice your kitten over to meet their new friend. Once the kitten is confident around the child, have them reach their hand out and let your kitten sniff it. This will help your kitten settle even more, and your child can begin to pet the kitten with soft, gentle strokes.
Always use positive reinforcement for your kitten, with treats and pats as appropriate. Any new introduction is a positive experience that needs to be rewarded. Once your kitten is comfortable around the child, they can begin to play. Use any toys you have discovered your kitten likes, and any interactive toys, such as cat toy wands, reminding your child of the correct method of play with these toys.
The kitten should be able to safely get away and feel safe, likewise children need to be shown how to responsibly act around animals.
Allowing your children to feed the kitten at meals time can also help strengthen their bond as cats will naturally be more inclined to go to the person who feeds them for attention, like most other animals, cats are very food driven creatures. We recommend having an adult fill the food and water bowls, then letting the children place them down for your kitten.
Gentle reminders to keep quiet around the kitten and not to make too many loud noises can go a long way in forming a lasting friendship between your kitten and children.
Things to consider:
- Always meet the kitten at their level – sitting on the ground is the best way to do this
- Ensure any children are calm when interacting with the kitten
- Use play to encourage interaction
- Patience is key when introducing your kitten and any children
Spending time interacting and playing with your kitten is important to grow your bond and relationship with your kitten, while encouraging them to explore and use their energy in constructive ways. Ensure children interact calmly so your kitten and child can happily get to know each other and experience a very special friendship.
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