If you have recently brought home a new kitten, then naturally you will be wondering how you can keep them busy and entertained. Besides, you need be mindful of their fragile nature and delicate size too. So, what kind of toys and activities are best for cats of this young age? Here is what you need to know.
So, what do kittens like to play with? Kittens like to play with any object or item that brings out their hunting instincts. Anything that gets them to sniff, move, pounce, swipe, throw, chase, chew, etc are always a winner. Toys shaped like a mouse, bird and little ping pong balls are good examples. Catnip-filled toys are always popular as well.
Keep in mind that kittens are babies, so be sure to move harmful objects out of their reach when you do decide to play.
Kitten proofing your home is never a bad idea.
And you’re likely going to want to.
Kittens are little bundles of energy that are always ready to play.
And you should encourage this activity too.
Playtime is essential for kittens; it keeps them mentally alert and physically fit.
This is why you will often see very young kittens wrestle their siblings, and this is excellent for learning eye-to-paw coordination.
Besides, play also enables them to practice their natural hunting behaviors.
And while they may not ever need to use them, refining these skills does keep them happy and content.
They are instinctual, after all.
Play can be varied too.
These little felines can play by themselves, other pets, or their owners. So long as it is safe and appropriate, of course.
If you want to play with your kitten, the best times to do so is in the morning or in the evening when they are most alert.
Let us now take a closer look at the specific types of toys that young kittens particularly enjoy.
We will then look at how you can, and should, engage in play.
So be sure to keep reading.
Your kitten’s experience and development in your care are reliant upon it – so it’s very well worth your time!
What Sort Of Toys Do Kittens Like To Play With?
Kittens like to play with toys that bring out their hunting instincts. To recap, any toy that gets them sniffing, pouncing, swiping, chewing, etc., just make sure that these toys are safe for kittens to play with.
We are all familiar with the popular cliche of kittens going crazy for yarn or string.
However, it is actually best to avoid extensive use of toys with string or ribbon, as they can lead to injury unless you are very careful.
At the same time, you should never leave your kitten unattended with toys that can be shredded or accidentally ingested.
So instead, you should look for kitten toys that put safety at the forefront of the design.
You can purchase kitten-safe toys in any pet store or online; with Amazon having a fantastic collection to look through.
Kittens go crazy with excitement for particular toys, especially those that move or keep a kitten guessing!
Kittens like to chase, so little ping pong balls provide lots of fun and exercise; it helps that these balls are light and easy to chase too.
Along similar lines, kittens can’t resist catnip, so a kitten will highly favor any toy filled that can be filled with this previous treat.
Below, you can see some of the Amazon best-sellers; these are all very worthy of your consideration:
If you are on a limited budget, or want to go the DIY route, can make toys out of cardboard boxes, empty toilet rolls, and paper bags.
You can make these into tunnels or hiding places.
Outside of your typical collection of toys, encourage mobility as much as you can by providing a scratching post or climbing frame.
And lastly, while toys with bells make keep a kitten entertained – they are a surefire way to drive you crazy.
Kittens will play with these at all hours, even the early hours of the morning.
Cats are nocturnal and have no qualms about disturbing your precious sleep!
How Should I Play With My Kitten?
When you play with your kitten, make it as positive an experience as possible. It should be fun, interactive, and not overstimulating. This should help develop your bond while also ensuring they are adequately exercised and kept sufficiently engaged.
You can use playtime as a means of teaching your kitten new things, such as recognizing their name.
A great way to do this is to routinely repeat their name as you play together.
Just be sure to be mindful and careful as you play.
Playtime can become uncomfortable if your kitten becomes aggressive towards you – they may hide and pounce at your legs or feet as you walk by, for example.
In this instance, do not move and stay still. You do not want to excite them any further. Always remember you can use toys to distract their attention elsewhere.
Along similar lines, a kitten can cause accidental discomfort.
So, be sure to protect your fingers and toes while you play. You want to watch out for an accidental nip. And it can be very painful!
While it hurts while they are still kittens, it will be even more painful if they continue to do so as adult cats.
So do keep an eye on it.
In terms of the toys you use with them, kittens are not particularly fussy.
But you should use them to your advantage to participate in play.
Kittens will not think about their own safety, nor consider potential choking hazards mind, so you will need to keep potentially harmful items out of their reach.
Some toys will enable you to move a toy, or they will move by themselves.
Either way, your kitten will love jumping, swiping, and chewing at it.
You can also move or hide these toys or get a little ping pong ball and throw it to encourage chasing.
In time, you might just find that they roll it back to you!
As mentioned previously, you can make “toys” out of cardboard boxes, empty toilet rolls, and paper bags.
Hiding treats or toys inside is a way to make them even more enjoyable. They will particularly like ripping these materials to shreds.
So, for this reason, never use plastic bags.
Another good idea is to make a sack of fabric and then hide some catnip inside.
Or, you can glue several boxes together and cut out peepholes for a game of hide and seek.
You can also get your kitten to chase a beam of light coming from a torch or a laser.
Some kittens appreciate it when their owners take the time to copy their actions.
Suppose your cat likes to wack paper across the room or pounce on a ball.
You can do the same, even if it feels a bit silly.
Playing copycat shows your kitten that you know how to have fun.
Training Your Kitten To Play Fetch
Training a kitten or cat to do anything might seem unachievable. Besides, cats cannot often be trained.
But while it is true that cats do not take to instruction as quickly as dogs, many kittens do like to play fetch and can be taught to do so!
This is increasingly likely in those who like to show their retrieving instincts and bring “presents” home.
Nevertheless, if you really want to train your kitten to do something, you will need to do so strategically.
For starters, they will need to be in the right frame of mind.
Secondly, they must be in a distraction-free environment.
With these both in place, move onto finding a toy that your kitten is particularly fond of.
Throw it into the distance. You may find that your kitten does not bring it back at first, or you may find that they bring it back for your to throw it again.
The more you do this and show your kitten you are willing to throw the item for them to chase, they’ll be more likely to bring an item back.
You can try linking the throwing action to a word; cats are intelligent and are capable of learning word connections.
Say something like ” fetch kitty-kitty” using a high-pitched tone after tossing the toy across the room.
In time and with repetition, your kitten will learn that this word comes with the expectation of the action.
They will know that this word, or phrase, means that you will throw the item or toy.
This should entice your kitten to bring it back to you.
Some cats enjoy retrieving, and that in itself is enough of a reward, but for those that need an incentive, you can offer a treat to encourage your kitten to repeat the game of fetch.
You can’t force your cat to accept training and play fetch; you must go with their lead.
The idea here is to let your cat have fun and have a positive experience.
If your cat isn’t a fan of fetching, don’t lose heart, there are numerous ways to bond and have fun with your cat using other cat games and interactive toys.
Some cats just don’t get much from playing fetch – it’s something you will need to try and find out for yourself.
How Long Should I Play With My Kitten?
It’s best to keep interactive play brief; ten to fifteen minutes of playtime a couple of times a day with your kitten will suffice.
At this point, there is little more for a kitten to gain from play.
They usually have achieved “victory” over the toy or item by this stage and will begin to lose interest.
Nonetheless, be sure to offer your kitten lots of praise for spending time with you and playing.
If your kitten wins a game and does so fairly and without aggression, be sure to offer them a treat.
And if you do spend time playing each day, do not be worried about boredom in your kitten during other times of the day.
Kittens and cats generally do a great job at keeping themselves occupied – whether this is by eating, napping, playing by themselves, or exploring.
The best times to play with your kitten are in the morning and the evening, as kittens are most alert at these times.
You may even find that your kitten is more energetic or attentive during these times.
When playtime is over, put toys out of their sight to keep their excitement and novelty over time.
Also, remember that some kittens are more active than others.
Some kittens will be much more content to sit and lay around.
It’s natural to be concerned about an inactive kitten or one that ages into a more docile cat, but as long as they are showing signs of health; you should have nothing to worry about.
It doesn’t hurt to encourage more movement, but it should never be forced, and it is best to generally go along with what your kitten wants.
Nevertheless, you can always look around your home and encourage a little more exercise and activity with your kitten, if you so wish.
There is no end to the enjoyment of playtime for a kitten, and they will play with just about anything.
They have a lot of energy that they need to burn through after all.
And activity and play should always be encouraged.
Any chance to pounce, swipe, chase, and chew is beneficial to a kitten’s mental and physical health.
It helps them to exercise their natural hunting instincts, and they get to be as wild as they can be indoors.
That being said, there will always be some kittens that enjoy playing more than others.
And then there are specific breeds that are more laid back.
The Ragdoll, Himalayan, Persian, and British shorthair are all such examples.
If you did want to get them playing a little more, or with you, food and catnip are excellent incentives that you can use to encourage play.
And do invest in a range of exciting toys.
Or make your own.
Either way, just make the entire experience as positive as you can!
I am a practiced pet owner with decades of experience owning a number of different pets. I am also the main writer and chief editor here at Pet Educate; a site I created to share everything I’ve learned about pet ownership over the years and my extensive research along the way.