Although your new kitten may spend much of their day catnapping, they will likely be up for a few play sessions a day, too. Through regular play cats receive much of the exercise they need, which is not only great for your new kitten’s physical well being but for their mental health, as well.
Cats are natural hunters and their play style mimics these traits by stalking, chasing and catching objects. Although play sessions may only last 10 to 15 minutes at a time, they can happen a few times a day. It is a great idea to encourage these sessions early in the day and again before bed to get your cat into a routine of being active when you are also awake
In the beginning, you may need to encourage play with your new kitten, but as time goes on your kitten will catch on and often be the one to initiate play sessions with you or your family.
with you or your family. Need some ideas on how to keep your cat playful and exercised?
Cats love to climb. Providing your cat multiple levels to investigate will not only allow them the opportunity to get some exercise but also to see their surroundings from a different angle. To do this you may want to consider purchasing a cat tree, which consists of multi-level platforms for your cat to climb and explore. These are often covered in carpet-type materials which also encourage your cat’s natural need to stretch and scratch their claws.
SWITCH UP THEIR TOY SELECTION
Sometimes boredom can set in when it comes to play if the same toys are always available. Make play sessions more interesting by rotating available toys. This is will keep things fresh and exciting.
TOYS THAT BRING OUT THEIR NATURAL INSTINCTS
It’s no surprise that cat toys are often fashioned to represent small creatures like mice and birds, which also happen to be the main animals cats hunt. These will be some of your cat’s favourite toys. Small toy mice and feathered toys that your cat can bat around and chase will provide endless opportunity for play.
If you want to interact with your kitten during play, consider feather teaser toys that dangle feathers from a long string on a handle that you can flick, move and drag around the house mimicking a bird.
Laser light toys are also great to use, as long as you keep them out of your kittens eyes and at ground level, to stimulate their hunt and catch instincts. It is amazing that a small light that you control around the room can catch their inquisitive nature by imitating the movements of a bug.
TAKE ADVANTAGE OF YOUR NATURAL SURROUNDINGS
Cats love to watch birds and are inquisitive about the outdoors in general. It is not uncommon to find them sitting at the window or looking out the screen of a door. This mental stimulation is beneficial for them. You may want to consider installing a cat window perch so they can have abundant nature views.
If you have the space, many cat owners are now installing “cattios” to allow a safe, enclosed space outdoors for their cats to investigate their natural surroundings while being protected from any risks. Cattios consist of an enclosure with multiple levels to explore that is placed outside, beside your home, near a window or door that your cat can access from the inside of your house. Preassembled cattios can be purchased for installation, or they can be easy to create on your own.
CAT TREAT DISPENSERS
Treat- or food-dispensing toys are great for keeping your pet’s mind active. These puzzle-type toys provide mental stimulation as your cat tries to figure out how to get a reward out of them.
interactive with your kitten, and it also fosters the bond between you while reinforcing their physical and mental health. A cat with a well-exercised mind and body has the best chance at preventing obesity and negative behaviours, such as house soiling. To learn more about how you can include exercise and play in your kitten’s daily routine, ask your veterinary healthcare team.
Kristina Cooper is a Registered Veterinary Technician (RVT) and proud member of the Ontario Association of Veterinary Technicians (OAVT). She has previously worked in both small animal practice and a municipal animal shelter. With a special interest in the relationship between animal and human health she is currently the Provincial Manager of the OAVT Public Health Rabies Response Program and an active One Health Initiative advocate. She can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org