If you’ve just added a kitten to your fur-fam, you’re probably enjoying kitty-cat cuddles, zoomies around the living room and playtime with them.
But did you know that kitten playtime is actually an essential part of their development and important for them to grow into well-adjusted adult cats?
Today we’re going to show you the benefits of kitten toys and play and the top 5 essential kitten toys you need in your arsenal to best support your growing kitty.
Why Do Kittens Play?
Kitten playtime is an instinctual practice that dates back to their days in the wild. For wild cats, playtime was a way that they would learn important survival skills such as stalking, chasing and pouncing on prey and climbing trees.
Even though our domesticated cats these days don’t generally hunt for food (other than the odd surprise rat present left on your doorstep), these instincts are still strong so it's important to stimulate them with kitten toys and play. Using kitten toys such as feather wands or interactive mouse toys are a great way to play with your kitten whilst mimicking its natural desire to hunt.
Benefits of Playing With Your Kitten
Other than playing with your kitten being super fun for both you and your fur friend, there are also many other added benefits for your kitty-cat:
Using kitten toys and play is a great way to exercise your kitten. A lot of cats these days are indoor cats, especially if they live in large cities. With this, they tend to get less exercise than their wild cousins leading to a higher incidence of health issues as well as obesity.
The PFMA estimates that 47% of cats are obese. Obesity is detrimental to a cat’s health and can lead to diabetes, heart disease, cancers, digestive issues and joint problems. Using kitten toys and play is a great way to keep indoor cats active and manage their weight
Kitten Toys and Play Helps to Stimulate Your Kitten
Using kitten toys and play helps to stimulate your kitten so that they don’t take their energy out in destructive ways such as scratching the side of your sofa. In the wild, cats are much more active as they patrol their territory and hunt prey such as small birds, rodents and lizards.
If you’re not stimulating your kitten enough they will take their energy out in other ways. Try to allocate 15-20 minutes twice per day to play with your kitten, ideally at dusk or dawn as these are their instinctual hunting periods where they will be the most active.
Strengthens Your Bond with Your Kitten
We all know the age-old saying that “a dog is a man’s best friend”, but at Scrumbles we think cats are the pawfect besties too. Playing with your kitten strengthens your bond with them, leading to better-adjusted adult cats. It's important for your kitten to have regular human interaction before 10-12 weeks of age so that they can develop trust and reduce timidness.
Helps to Curb Boredom and Misbehaviour
If your cat is scratching at the edges of your furniture, climbing up walls or knocking items off benches, it’s probably not because they’re a naughty cat, rather they’re likely just bored and need to be stimulated with kitten toys and play.
Setting regular play times during the day is a great way to both keep your cat stimulated as well as forming a routine, which can help to comfort your cat and better adjust your kitten to your hooman life schedule.
5 Essential Kitten Toys
To keep your kitten stimulated and engaged, it’s useful to have a few different kinds of toys to use when playing with them.
Here are our top 5 essential kitten toys:
1. Wand Toys
Wand toys such as fishing rods and feather teasers are great toys to use for interactive play. These toys usually have an object attached to the end such as a feather or small plush toy which when waved around on the floor mimics the prey they would stalk in the wild.
Playing with these toys is great for kittens to practice their predatory instincts such as running, stalking and pouncing – watch as their little bottoms wiggle just before they pounce.
2. Scratching Toys
Scratching is a way that cats and kittens mark their territory and maintain their claws in the wild. Buying them a scratching toy or pole is a great way to let them do this without it costing holes in the corner of your leather couch!
Opting for a climbing frame with scratching material is a great way to allow your kitty to scratch whilst also climbing and exploring to let out pent-up energy.
How often have you found your cat or kitten in weird and awkward places like kitchen drawers or amazon boxes? Kittens love exploring new places and hidey-holes so tunnels can be a great way to engage their senses and keep them stimulated.
4. Interactive Toys
Interactive toys such as light-up toys, motorised toys, musical toys and puzzles are a pawefect way to keep your kitten stimulated whilst you’re away from them. Incorporating food into puzzles is an interactive way for them to have their meals whilst also mimicking the process of hunting for their food in the wild. And speaking of food, make sure to opt for a natural kitten food packed with proper meat and a balanced recipe.
At Scrumbles, all of our kitten food is loaded with top-quality animal protein as well as pre or probiotics for a happy digestive system and pretty poops. It’s the best way to fuel your furball’s growth into a healthy and happy cat.
5. Household Items
Not all toys have to be fancy or bought from a store. In fact, some of our kitty’s favourite toys are simple items that you probably have lying around your home. Ping-pong balls or cardboard boxes filled with scrunched-up paper can be just what your kitty needs to keep them occupied.
A good tip for keeping your kitten engaged in a toy is to only allow them to play with it for 15-20 minutes at a time – if it’s left out all day they may become bored of it and less likely to want to play with it at playtime.