Hey everyone!I hope this week finds you well, I really don’t have any big updates for this week, so who am I kitten? Let’s just get into it! (Since starting this blog I’ve adopted the humor of a middle-age Golf dad, and for that I won’t apologize.)
This week’s topic is kitten behavior, so this is for everyone getting ready to adopt, or those who want to learn more about their furry friends- and what their norm is.
Kittens develop much in the same way human babies do! This means that there are sequential stages of play that define how kittens are building physical and cognitive skills. Let’s break these down, but dokeep in mind that everything develops at its own pace, and these are just outlines, not strict timetables for development and play.
First comes what’s called social play. This is typical for kittens, because up until they are weened, most of kittens interactions have been with their mother and/or siblings. These interactions are playful, and they essential teach kittens what is socially acceptable when playing with other animals.
After weening, kittens typically start showing more interest in the objects around them: probably because they’re no longer fixated on their mother as a primary source of life. This is so creatively named object play. In this stage, kittens will usually start figuring out the patterns of hunting. A lot of their play will involve chasing and stalking, and they’ll be very interested in moving objects or things they can bat around. I once dropped an onion on the floor in the kitchen and had a heck of a time trying to get it away from my dear, crazy cat.
This stage of play is associated with the development of eye-paw coordination, as well as their hunting skills. Though I can say as a long-time cat owner, most of mine have been entirely useless. I once witnessed a near 20-minute battle between my cat and a bug. The bug won.
Last comes the stage of locomotor play, and this is very influential for the development of balance and agility. This stage is typically fully developed by 10-12 weeks.
Keeping your kitten stimulated is highly encouraged to promote their development! Kittens frequently prefer smaller toys, as well as things they can roll around such as a small ball. Play with string or warn, while movie-quality cute, is not recommended. This is because if your cat manages to swallow a piece of it (And if they can, they will), it can cause damage to their intestines. That’s something we definitely want to avoid, for the sake of your fur-baby and your wallet. If you’re not sure what toys are best, ask your vet or take a look at these:
Another tip for playing with your kitten- don’t encourage them to play with your hands. While this seems cute when they’re young, it’ll lose its charm when they start using claws and teeth. If your sweet kitten starts thinking that your hand is an acceptable toy, it’ll be hard to break the habit. The easiest way to avoid a kitten that goes after hands, even just in play, is to discourage the habit from the start.
We always encourage that you play with your kitten, in fact it’s recommended that kittens be handled anywhere from 15-40 minutes a day! However, just like people, kittens need downtime too. If it seems like your little friend is getting agitated or overtired, give them some time to recuperate. The best way to interact with your kitten is too play until they get too tired or seem overexcited. Make sure they know what boundaries are set up by putting them to bed if they start getting nippy or play with their claws out. Cats have to be trained just like dogs, and everyone will be happy if there are clear rules in your relationship, as well as if they have quiet time to themselves.
Spaying and neutering always remains relevant. It’s one of the most important ways to keep pets healthy and happy, and to avoid any unexpected surprises. With dogs, we recommend spaying/neutering be done anywhere between 6 months - 1 year, and the longer you’re able to wait the better. This isn’t the case with cats, though. As crazy as it sounds, cats can go into heat starting at just four months old. F o u r months! That’s why we suggest having spay/neuter procedures done between 3-4 months of age. Here at Lee Shore, it’s built into our policy that spay/neuter procedure costs are included in the adoption fee. If your pet isn’t old enough to have the surgery done while in our care pre-adoption, we’ll reimburse you for up to fifty dollars to cover the cost!
If this article peaked your interest in adoption a lovely kitten- you may just want to click this link: https://www.leeshorerescue.com/cats.html
But more on our special girl, Nova, later… We still have a featured pet article for this month, after all!
Wishing you the best, I’ll see you all next week for another surprise kitten-topic. Make sure you check back on Tuesdays for new blog posts!
As always, while researching I found a wonderful article! If you’re interested, check it out here:
Joy Shanahan is a student at Appalachian State University with a passion for community service. She can be found in the dance studios at ASU or researching helpful animal tips for Lee Shore.