Whether you’ve had a kitten before or not, learning how to play with him properly is a great idea to make sure that you can give him the best quality of life possible as well as make sure that you are ready to enjoy having your time spent with a kitten as well.
The good thing to start out with understanding is that kittens are playful creatures, so with the exception of when they first move in and are still getting used to humans, you’ll find that they’ll love to play almost all the time, even when they’re so tired they’re falling asleep!
Why Play Is Important
Play is fun and cute, but it’s also important to your kitten’s development as well. You’ll notice that at a young age, your kitten has very poor “paw-eye” coordination. That is, you’ll see them batting at a toy, and they’ll completely miss it! Or, they’ll jump onto something, only to fall short. Essentially, they’ll be totally clumsy.
When you play with them, they’ll learn motor skills, just like when you play with a child, and you’ll be helping them have a better life with proper coordination and lots of activity, which is great for their physical health as well.
How often to play
As I mentioned, kittens are incredibly playful creatures that absolutely love playtime.
So, you can try it in one or two long sessions a day if you want, where you, essentially, exhaust them. The better way to do it, though, would be short 5-10 minute sessions throughout the day when you can. This is more beneficial for them and you, too, so that you’ll be able to make sure that playtime is fun and it fits perfectly into your daily routine.
Don’t overthink it.
If you’ve got 10 minutes to spare, throw a ball around for your kitten to chase. Or, get out a laser pointer. It’s just important to make sure that you always have time and space to play with your kitten each day. It’s also great for bonding with your kitten so that you can solidify that connection between you and him.
Types of Safe Toys for your Kitten
As you can imagine, there are all kinds of cat toys out there that you can consider for your kitten, so I’m going to break it down into the different groups, and then I’ll tell you what I recommend as far as the best toys for ages and things to avoid in my own personal opinion.
Toy mice and various kinds of balls are often a great favorite amongst kittens. The reason that toys are so fun for kittens is because they move, and kittens love the movement, especially chasing it! So, furry and fluffy mice, rubber balls and foam balls are all great ideas. Jingle bells are another great idea too (plastic balls with a jingle bell inside).
The most important thing with these kinds of toys is to make sure that they are all of a good size (big enough not to be swallowed) and that you keep an eye on them to make sure that you can remove them if they start to break or splinter.
Common examples of rod toys are a thin rod with a piece of felt hanging off of it that you can swing back and forth.
You can also get rods with tinsel-like hanging pieces that are great for getting their attention. These are great as interactive toys so that your kitten can work on his “paw-eye” coordination and get used to playing with you as his human. These will entertain them for a while, and you can really get them running around the room by snapping them back and forth and making them run around frantically.
Kittens absolutely love to climb and venture around, so hanging toys from scratching posts and cat castles is a great option, especially if you have an especially active kitten who loves to play all the time with no signs of tiring. You can get cat castles with toys that hang, or you can make a few yourself and attach them where you feel it’s best for the kitten to climb around to his heart’s content. Get as creative as you want, they’ll love it!
These toys are popular for those who need to leave their kittens alone for work or other commitments. The most popular example would be a plastic hollow tube that has a ball in it. The ball would show up in certain spots where the top layer has holes, and the kitten would push it around, moving it around as it shows up. It’s great for hyper kittens!
It acts as a maze and will do a lot for your kitten’s brain development. You can find all sorts of variations on these in your pet store of choice, or online!
Interactive vs. solo
The kinds of play can be split up into two groups: interactive and solo.
Interactive play is great for bonding with your kitten and showing that you enjoy being with him. When you adopt a single kitten, these are great for curing his loneliness as he gets used to being away from his litter mates. Interactive play will often be fun to you, too, because kittens are adorable and hilarious when they’re running after a string hanging on a stick and tripping over things. It’s a great stress reliever!
Solo toys are great when you need to leave him alone. Balls and mice are great for solo toys that they’ll chase around to their heart’s content. Hanging toys are also great examples. Solo toys are also recommended when you are first settling into life with your kitten because your kitten will be fearful of too much contact with you and your toys. Leave him alone with his solo toys, and he’ll prefer those until he adjusts to feeling safe when he’s playing with you.
Things to avoid
As far as things to stay away from, there are a few things with toys that I, personally, have found to cause trouble with kittens. These are opinion-based, however, so you can make your own conclusions from what I’m going to share with you.
Firstly, stay away with toys that have a lot of feathers. Feathers are attractive to the eye of your kitten, but they tend to like to eat them, and the spine of the feather can present a choking hazard. Even as your cat grows up, you may still run into potential issues like those. If you want to give your kitten toys with feathers, that’s fine, but I recommend only doing that with supervision!
Be careful of toys that have a lot of string components, such as those rod toys. If your kitten loves to roll around and wrap themselves in the string, make sure that you secure the rod to something as tightly as possible (so they don’t get caught in it and possibly hang themselves when playing with them alone). The other option is, of course, to remove this interactive toy when you aren’t playing with it – remember that this toy is meant to be played with using you as the holder of the rod so your kitten won’t be attracted to it much without you there to wave it around.
Another thing to be aware of, and avoid, are toys that are small enough to fit in your kitten’s mouth. They can easily become choking hazards, so try to make sure that you watch out for anything with small parts. Safety should always come first with your kittens.
Lastly, be careful to watch for the degradation of the toys.
When a toy breaks or starts to splinter off, as mentioned, replace it with a new one. Your kitten could choke or otherwise hurt themselves on a broken toy, and that’s, of course, the worst-case scenario. Jingle balls and furry mice (which they love to chomp on) will get the most wear and tear. They’re cheap to replace, so please remember this when debating to save money by allowing your kitten to play with a partially destroyed toy!
Kittens are so much fun, and watching them play with toys is possibly the cutest thing ever – though I’m biased. You’re going to have so much fun helping your kitten explore the bright and distracting world of toys. You’ll find that certain kittens will prefer specific kinds of toys, and others will just love anything that moves.
Enjoy the fun and development of your kitten and take some pleasure in knowing that you are the one giving him all of that contagious joy! Giving him proper toys shows him that you love him and that you want the best for him. A good pet-parent knows the secret is to a happy kitten is a selection of toys and even more love.