There are two major behaviours that you’ll see after bringing a kitten home: sleeping and playing. During these first few weeks, it’s important to ensure that your cat becomes well-adjusted through attention, love and appropriate correction of her behaviour. Here are some tips for your kitten’s sleeping, playing and socializing habits.
Kittens sleep up to 16 hours a day, so it’s important to create a comfy spot for her to retreat to. Designate a corner of your home as “the kitten corner” – a spot for her to rest and unwind. This spot should be warm, quiet and away from busy areas of your house. This area should include her bed, a scratching post and her favourite toys.
If your kitten doesn’t take a liking to the spot right away, don’t worry! Cats are very particular creatures, so you have to be patient. She’ll warm up to her special spot over time.
Your kitten’s schedule
Kittens are nocturnal animals, so don’t be surprised if you hear your kitten scampering around at night! You can alter this behaviour somewhat by playing with her in the early evening to burn off excess energy. Also, feeding her supper fairly early in the evening helps with this too. If you find that she’s still waking you up at night, resist the urge to give her attention through food or play. This will only reward and reinforce her behaviour.
Kittens are curious, frisky and full of life. So, sometimes it can be hard to tell if they’re being playful or showing signs of aggression. Your kitten may pounce and stalk unsuspecting toys, scraps of paper or bits of fluff. In this case, she’s just exercising her natural predatory instincts in a harmless, and often cute, manner. Just be sure to provide her with appropriate toys so that she doesn’t take out these instincts on your personal objects, or even on you.
Make sure to never use your hands, fingers, feet or clothes as playthings. This can encourage aggressive behaviour towards you. When you’re playing, use kitten safe toys to have fun. To learn more, check out our article on how to play with a cat.
Introducing your kitten to children
Kittens get adults excited, so you can only imagine how excited children are to meet a new kitten. Introduce your kitten to children, especially younger ones, gradually and for short periods of time. While frequent handling and gentle play are important for your kitten, children also have to understand that a kitten is a sensitive, living creature.
Make sure to teach children how to properly pick up your kitten and hold her. Slip one hand under her chest, holding the front legs gently but firmly with your fingers. At the same time, cup the other hand under your kitten’s hindquarters. Never pick up your kitten by the scruff of her neck or her legs.
Children must also learn to not pull the kitten’s tail or ears, squeeze or poke her, make loud or threatening noises or move toward her too rapidly. To learn more about kitten socialization, read our article on how to introduce a new cat or kitten.
Helping others play with your kitten
A good way for everyone to play with a kitten is to get down on the floor at her level. This will make her feel more secure. Remind children that even a small child can look like a giant to a kitten and that even gentle kittens resort to scratching or biting to protect themselves when frightened.