Getting a new kitten is a very exciting time! Who doesn’t love an energetic fur ball running around the house playing with everything it can find and providing you with top end entertainment? Well as exciting as a new cute kitten is, they can often times be rough at first and enjoy using their new teeth at play time. This is all-natural behavior for a cat. Stalking, kicking, swatting, biting is all pre-programmed behavior for a kitten, but rest assured that with proper management in the early stages, your kitten will grow up knowing how to play in a friendly matter. It is important to teach your kitten right away about what is acceptable play behavior and what is unacceptable.
It is very cute and entertaining to watch a young kitten adapt to its new environment while exhibiting natural wild cat behaviors. Your kitten may sneak up behind you and pounce on your feet and looking so proud about their successful hunt! Or nibble with their razor-sharp teeth during play time accompanied with some leg kicks. This is all to be expected from a cat, so don’t be worried or discouraged. As cat owners we shouldn’t discourage these behaviors but at the same time we should do our best to redirect these tendencies towards toys rather than hands, feet, or any body part for that matter. This tells the kitten that it is okay and if you have guests, they will also assume their hands or feet are free game to hunt. There is a biting phase that generally lasts until 9 to 16 weeks of age before the habit tapers down. Redirecting the biting towards a toy and rewarding good behavior is a good way to help keep biting to a minimum. Often times this is just them playing. However, if your cat is hissing or growling this is no longer “play” and you should immediately stop stimulating your cat with play for the time being. A lot of patience and consistency is needed to help your cat develop “good play etiquette” so don’t expect a big change overnight.
Managing rough play can be difficult as we mentioned it takes a lot of patience and consistency on your part as a cat owner. The biggest thing is distinguishing what play is acceptable and unacceptable from the very start and sticking to it. Without consistency, your cat will become very confused on what it can do and what it cant do during playtime. It is also very important to not use physical punishment as this can and will induce aggression within your kitten. Another important note is to refrain from using your hands during playtime. We highly suggest and recommend using the All for Paws Whisker Fiesta Wand Kite available at Pisces Pets Emporium!
You may find yourself with a kitten who does not know how to play without being too rough and would like the rough play to end entirely. We touched on a few ways that can help such as redirecting the rough play to a toy which works almost every time. A fun way to keep your cat entertained and letting them unleash their natural instincts are games or toys that require them to search or hunt for their treat. We suggest the Catit Cat Treat Ball! But much like children sometimes kittens need a timeout from play entirely for a period of time. If you engage with your kitten in a “rough” way during playtime, it will think its okay to do the same. So, by not engaging in rough play, your kitten should eventually get the hint. Also, it’s good to note that during playtime is NOT a good time to pet your cat. Save the pets and cuddles for after playtime.
It is cute to watch our little kittens act like ferocious lions but its really important to keep our cats in check, so they don’t exhibit aggressive behavior as they get older. The biggest thing that we encourage you to teach your cat is to know WHAT is okay to play with and what is not. If your cat exhibits rough play and aggressive behavior, we would always recommend having a vet have a look for any possible underlying condition or a diet that can help!