Are My Cats Playing Or Fighting
Playtime is an important part of cat life. Its something that benefits cats, starting in kittenhood and extending all the way through the geriatric years. The way a cat plays as she ages may change but the desire to play should hopefully remain throughout a cats life.
If you live with more than one cat, hopefully, they have a good relationship and spend time playing together. If your cats are kittens, that playtime is also used as a tool for them to learn how gently to bite in order to keep in playtime mode. Kittens also use playtime to learn about their developing skills and practice stalking, chasing and pouncing. During playtime with their littermates, they also learn important body language and communication skills.
Week : Standing And Wobbling
Kittens will start to stand sometime between the third and fourth weeks and will try to walk, although their first movements will be very wobbly. Their bodies are out of proportion to their eventual adult state. Little tails are very short and “stick-like,” and their heads are disproportionately large for their bodies and legs. This will all change, though, as they get their “sea legs” and start moving around.
Don’t be surprised to see kittens escaping from their nesting area as they seek to expand their horizons. They will also interact more with their litter mates, even to the point of forming “alliances,” which may or may not be gender-based.
Kittens will continue to nurse regularly. It is important to continue feeding the mother good quality food, as long as she is nursing kittens.
How Can I Prevent Damage When I Am Not Available To Supervise
When the cat cannot be supervised, leave it in a cat-proof area, with soft comfortable bedding and a litter box for elimination. Be certain that your kitten has had sufficient play and attention before confinement. Although a large dog kennel or cat crate may be an acceptable form of confinement for short departures, most cats can be confined in one or a few rooms that have been effectively cat-proofed. This allows the cat some freedom while preventing damage and injuries. Child locks and secure containers can be used to keep your cat out of cupboards or garbage cans. Any of your possessions or household objects that might be clawed, pounced on, explored, or knocked flying, should be either kept out of the cats reach or made undesirable. Remember that with their excellent ability to jump and climb, damage prevention may also be needed far above floor level.
Read Also: How To Clean Out Cat Ears
Managing Your Kittens Rough Play
Play-motivated aggressive behaviors are common in young, active cats less than two years of age, and in cats that live in one-cat households. When cats play, they incorporate a variety of behaviors into their play, such as exploratory, investigative and predatory behaviors. Play provides young cats with opportunities to practice skills they would normally need for survival. Kittens like to explore new areas and investigate anything that moves, and may bat at, pounce on and bite objects that resemble prey.
Kittens learn how to inhibit their bite from their littermates and their mother. A kitten who is separated from her family too early may play more roughly than a kitten who has had more valuable family time. In addition, if humans play with a young kitten using their hands and/or feet instead of toys, the kitten is liable to learn that rough play with people is okay. In most cases, its possible to teach your kitten or young adult cat that rough play isnt acceptable behavior.
Importance Of Play Behavior
Young animals, including kittens, learn a lot about life through play behaviors. From a very young age, kittens learn to stalk prey, pounce, attack, grab, climb, chew, and practice other behaviors that are vital to survival, especially if they aren’t indoor cats and have to catch their own food. By wrestling with their littermates, kittens learn how hard they need to grab, where to bite, and how to pounce on prey. They also learn what their limitations are from their mother and the other kittens in their litter, which helps them develop self-control. When they play bite other cats, they find out what hurts and what doesn’t. Stalking behaviors teach them how to catch prey, so they practice watching and tracking their littermates before pouncing on them. If a kitten is not given the opportunity to play with their mother, other kittens, and various toys, these behaviors and socialization skills will not develop as they should.
Kittens who did not get a chance to explore normal play behaviors with other kittens and their mother may play too rough with people. They may be aggressive and bite, grab, and scratch when they are simply trying to play or may not be good at stalking and catching prey. Later in life, this lack of appropriate play behavior at a young age can lead to issues getting along with other cats and even people.
Read Also: Male Cat Peeing All Over House
How Can Overexuberant Play And Play Attacks Toward People Be Prevented
Before any attempts at stopping or interrupting the behavior are attempted, provide sufficient opportunities and outlets for play. Choose play toys and activities that are appealing to the individual cat. Since play that is initiated by the cat could potentially escalate into overly aggressive play, the owner should select play toys and initiate all play sessions. Sessions initiated by the cat should be ignored or interrupted using a distraction device.
|Contributors: Debra Horwitz, DVM, DACVB & Gary Landsberg, DVM, DACVB, DECAWBMEdited by: VCA Inc. This article has been modified from its original text as supplied from LifeLearn and may not reflect any views of, or is certified to be accurate by, LifeLearn.|
Week : Kittens Start Walking
In week 3, your kittens motor coordination starts to develop and she will start to walk around and explore her surroundings, sticking close to mom and her littermates.
Purina pet expert and research scientist Ragen T.S. McGowan, PhD advises, It is important, even at this very early age, to get your kitten used to being handled by picking up and gently interacting with her every day.
Don’t Miss: Raw Cat Food For Cats
How To Keep Your Kitten Safe While Playing
The Spruce / Phoebe Cheong
Kittens are the epitome of playfulness, but they seem to get their tiny paws on everything imaginable. While letting your kitten play and explore is important to its mental development, you need to make sure that what it’s playing with is safe.
Three Weeks Old Kitten
If you are bottle feeding, youll notice the kittens are drinking much more at each feeding, but at fewer feedings, probably four to five times a day. At this age you can start introducing solid fooduse wet food at first, and try mixing it with kitten formula. By the end of the week, their weight will have increased to close to 15 ounces. They are walking steadily, without too much wobbling.
Tweed is three weeks old!
Don’t Miss: How To Help My Cat Gain Weight
Months: Ready For Adoption And Neutering
Kittens shouldn’t be separated from their mother and littermates until they have been fully weaned and socialized. Kittens continue learning normal cat behavior from their mother until well into their tenth week, says Petful, so in order to give each kitten the best chance of becoming a well-adjusted cat, it’s best to wait until at least ten weeks before allowing them to go to a new home. You can also wait twelve weeks to allow time for the next important round of vaccinations in the kitten timeline.
Kittens are ready to be spayed or neutered by six months of age. Many vets, however, will perform the procedure as early as eight weeks if the kitten weighs enough to safely undergo general anesthesia.
How To Keep Playtime Safe
Play helps burn off excess energy, which too often is directed into unacceptable behaviors such as climbing the curtains, knocking the collectibles off the table or launching themselves at the chandelier. As kittens get older, they naturally want to explore, which is another skill they’ll need as adults. But unsupervised kittens can get stuck in small spaces, pull heavy objects down on them or even get trapped in the dryer or get electrocuted. That’s why you need to not only prevent your kitten from playing in areas you can’t watch him, but also entice him to play elsewhere by providing better things to explore, such as cat trees, perching posts, paper bags, tunnels and boxes. Cats who tend to chew can be given chew toys.
Read Also: Why Dogs Are Better Pets Than Cats
How To Play With A Kitten
As you lie in bed, snug under the covers, your kitten stalks your right leg, quietly, stealthily, like a ninja. You make the faintest move no more than a quiver really and in a split second she leaps onto your calf. How can your kitten be so adorable and such a holy terror at the same time?
If shes between 3 and 6 months old, such intense play is normal: It is up to you to properly hone and direct her seemingly boundless energy. When properly fed and in good health, kittens between 3 weeks of age and one year old have an intense urge to play. Their lives at this stage revolve around playing, sleeping, and eating, and they engage in these behaviors cyclically. When kittens are very young their play behavior is more tentative and experimental, but as they mature through the juvenile period their play can wreak havoc with your sleep and other aspects of your life.
A graph of play behaviors would show a gradual build-up in frequency and intensity of play bouts, peaking at around 6 months of age, followed by a gentle decline that never actually returns to baseline. Some kittens play hard as youngsters and continue intense play behavior through one year of age and beyond, even up to 2 years old. By this latter age, even the most intense players have usually settled down but it is common for cats to play at times throughout their lives.
Before we consider how best to play with a kitten we should consider how they like to play so that we can mimic the fun.
Your Kitten’s Development In The First Six Weeks
Alycia Washington is a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine with nearly a decade of experience as a small animal emergency veterinarian. She currently works as a relief veterinarian for various emergency and specialty hospitals. Dr. Washington recognizes the importance of education and also works as a freelance veterinary writer.
The Spruce / Phoebe Cheong
The all-important first six weeks in a cat’s life will do much in determining its personality and character for the rest of his life. This period is extremely important for the health of the developing kitten.
Very young kittens are susceptible to several serious threats, such as parasites and upper respiratory infections , which when combined with other problems can lead to fading kitten syndrome , a serious and often fatal condition. FKS is more often found with litters of stray and feral cats, so if you are in a kitten foster situation, those kittens should be kept away from other cats in the home until they have all been checked clear of communicable disease.
Kittens will probably never grow again at the remarkable rate they accomplish during this period, and seeing the changes in their development from week to week is an incredible experience.
Recommended Reading: How To Fix A Cat Allergy
Stimulation For Urination And Defecation
Mother cats groom their kittens to stimulate urination and defecation on a regular basis. If you are acting as their foster parent, you get this important duty. Very young orphan kittens will not be able to urinate and defecate without your help, so this is a crucial part of neonatal kitten care. Before and after each feeding, gently rub the kitten on its lower abdomen, as well as the genitals and rectum with a cotton ball/pad dipped in warm water or a fragrance free baby wipe. Make sure to rub only enough to get the kitten to eliminate because overstimulation will irritate the area. Keep an eye out for chafing and lingering dirt and do not let the kitten get chilled. Kittens should urinate during each stimulation. They should defecate at least once daily.
General guidelines are:
- Kittens need to be stimulated until about 3 weeks of age.
- Kittens should be stimulated before and after each feeding.
- Kitten should urinate every time and defecate at least once daily.
When kittens get to be 3 4 weeks old, they no longer need help eliminating body wastes. Place a litter box in the crate or cage and fill with litter or shredded newspaper.
for a video from Maddie’s Institute on how to stimulate a kitten to urinate and defecate.
Four Weeks Old Kitten
Its been one whole month! Its amazing how quickly these helpless kittens have grown up over a four-week period. Darling, Denby, Corduroy, Tweed, and Wembley are thriving babies, starting to explore the world around them and play frequently with friends and toys.
At four weeks old, Corduroy is ready to explore!
Don’t Miss: Food To Fatten Up A Cat
The Dos And Donts Of Feline Fun
- Play for a few short sessions every day 10 to 15 minutes will do the trick.
- Allow your cat to catch and grab the toy at the end of each game to satisfy their predatory instinct.
- Provide a variety of toys, especially those shaped like prey .
- Never use your fingers or toes as a toy during playtime. If you do, your kitten could develop a bad habit painful for you.
- Never hit or yell at your kitten when they nip or pounce. This will make them fearful of you.
- Never force your cat to play or be trained. Some kittens prefer less play some prefer more. Find the right balance for your pet.
Teaching your kitten how to engage in friendly play not only helps you and your family avoid painful nips and scratches, it also encourages proper social skills while developing your cats reflexes and coordination. Keep activities short and positive, and your kitten will grow into a happy and healthy cat.
What Is The Best Way To Play With My Kitten
Kittens use multiple objects as prey items when they play. This play behavior consists of stalking, pouncing, jumping, biting, and clawing. They often prefer small objects that can easily be moved with their paws or grasped in the mouth. Avoid objects that are so small that they could be ingested and cause intestinal blockage. Some kittens like to play with objects like string or yarn. If these items are accidentally swallowed, they can cause severe intestinal damage, and you should only allow your kitten to play with them under supervision. Avoid using your hands as you play with your kitten. This can be dangerous and lead to human injury. The moving hand can become an appealing play object and attempts at correction could aggravate the situation. Although a young kitten may not inflict damage, as it ages and continues to use the owner’s body for play, serious injuries can result. Simulated prey stimulates cats, so that wands and toys that can be pulled along or dangled in front of the cat are generally most effective. Fishing rod type toys and long wands with prey type toys on the end can be used to encourage play without contact with the owner’s body. Young kittens will often fetch small fleece toys or bat them across the floor.
Don’t Miss: How To Clean Urine Off Cat
Twelve Week Old Kitten
- They need supervision. At this age, kittens are raring to go and will play fast and furiously, testing their abilities to climb and pounce, and then collapse to nap, recharge and start again.
- Confine them to one room when they are home alone. This is for their own safety. Remove heavy objects from shelves that could harm them if they fall during boisterous play.
- Reduce the amount of times fed daily to 2, while still referencing the foods feeding guidelines.
S To Bathe An Underage Kitten
for a video from Maddie’s Institute on bathing orphaned kittens.
Don’t Miss: Does Irish Spring Soap Keep Cats Away