Anyone who has adopted a new kitten knows that they are a lot of work. Kittens tend to play intensely for short periods of time, followed by long naps to recharge. But, even though these bursts of energy are short, your kitten can get into a lot of trouble in that time.
New parents of kittens will quickly need to become accustomed to tiny feet sprinting across rooms, rustling in remote corners of the home and—sometimes worst of all—complete silence, which could indicate trouble.
While an energetic kitten can be fun, it can also be exhausting to manage. The main priority through all of this is to ensure the kitten stays safe and doesn’t find itself in a situation where it could get hurt.
Here are some tips for managing your kitten’s adorable excitement and curiosity while keeping it safe, happy and healthy as it grows.
Kitten-proof your home
In the same way that you need to child-proof your home when you have small children, you should kitten-proof your home from an inquisitive kitten. Baby cats love to investigate and learn about their surroundings, and things that are dangling, shiny and small are usually appealing to them.
If there’s something in your home that your kitten could potentially get into, it’s safe to assume that it will. For this reason, you’ll want to remove any potential hazards within your kitten’s reach.
This may include hiding any electrical wiring and cords, picking up any debris and small items that could be choking hazards and/or toxic to your cat and tying up any strings or dangling objects like window blind cords and curtains.
If your kitten is particularly attracted to areas of the home you don’t want it in or to things like wires and cables, make sure to redirect its attention so it learns that those areas are off-limits.
Play with your cat—a lot!
Direct, one-on-one play time with your kitten when it is energetic may help mitigate any potential behavioral problems. You want to make sure to play with your kitten multiple times a day and give it lots of attention so it uses up its excess energy.
Make sure you never use your hands as play-things! Encourage your kitten to nibble on toys, not your fingers and toes, or else you may end up with a cat with much stronger teeth that likes to bite later on in life. Instead, use a few toys you and your cat can play with, such as bouncing balls, fishing-pole toys and laser pointers.
When you’re done playing, redirect your kitten’s energy to a different toy like a ball it can bat around by itself. Some toys are great for letting kittens entertain themselves, such as round tracks with balls in them that the cat can push around.
Give it cool-down time
Make sure to slow down playtime when it’s time to relax and avoid making movements or sounds that will excite your kitten and keep it wanting to play. Slowly stop playing intensely and eventually altogether. Avoid giving your kitten attention if it starts playing rough to not incentivize those behaviors.
Playing shortly before bedtime may actually help kittens sleep better at night, however. Since cats tend to be nocturnal, your kitten may be hard to handle when you’re trying to sleep. Wearing it out before bedtime can encourage more calm behavior overnight.
Confine your kitten for safety
Young kittens, particularly those between the ages of eight and 14 weeks, might find themselves in precarious situations while you’re away or asleep, especially if they’re still adjusting to their new homes.
If you’re concerned about your kitten getting into something or hurting itself while you’re at work or sleeping, consider keeping it confined to a small, kitten-proofed room like an office, where it has access to its food, water, litter box and toys.
If you lack a spare room to be your kitten’s safe haven, a large crate or cage could also work. Make sure the crate allows for open airflow and can comfortably hold your cat with room to play, food and water and its litter box.
These spaces should be safe havens for your kitten—not areas for punishment. Give your cat treats in these areas to create positive associations between your kitten and its “home base.”
Be patient and enjoy it while it lasts
Kitten behavior doesn’t last forever. As your kitten gets older, its behavior will likely mellow out, and it will have learned what is appropriate to play with and what is not.
Many pet parents are shocked at how quickly kittens grow and change with age, and what might have been considered annoying behavior is quickly missed. So, if you’re feeling frustrated with your kitten’s hyperactive behaviors, just remember that it will eventually get calmer when your kitten becomes an adult.