Entertaing Cats & Kittens

play and entertainment for your kitten

Cat Play Fighting

Dear Simba,
We have a cat Felix who is 8 months-old and P.J., our new kitty who is just 6-weeks-old. We got P.J. so that Felix would have someone to play with. Before we introduced them to each other, we took P.J. to the vet and got him checked out and his shots.

They hissed at each other at first. We let hem get to know each other and they now play (supervised) with each other. Felix is very lovable but when he plays with P.J. he bites him and P.J. starts to squeal as if he is hurting him then we'll yell at Felix and P.J. will chase after him for more. Is Felix just playing with him or really hurting him? Felix also licks him a lot too. Can you please help our new family? New Mom

Dear New Mom,
At 6 weeks, P.J is a bit young, so I would keep an eye on their play for a 5-6 more weeks. However, P.J. also appears to have some spunk and should be OK on his own. A nip from one cat does not usually harm another kitty(given that their skin is thicker than ours and is covered with fur). Also, since their play is supervised, the risk of injury is minor.

I do recommend that you not yell at the kitties when they play with each other, as they may develop negative associations. One note, if suspect a real fight is imminent, a few squirts from a water spray bottle can help avoid problems. Simba

Dear Simba,
I have 3 cats, Beethoven (7-years-old), Dinker (6-months-old), and Barry (8yrs); all of them are males. For the past few months, Barry has been "attacking" the other two. He jumps on their backs, bites down on the back of their neck, and makes a low growling and howling sound. I know that this is how cats mate, but Barry has been fixed for 7 years. I took him to the vet and they checked to make sure that he was fixed properly and told me that maybe it was a dominance problem. Barry loves the other cats (constantly washes and plays with them) and does not appear to be trying to hurt them. The other cats usually do not try to get away, yet this behavior still bothers me.

Are my other cats being violated or hurt in some way? I do not know what to do. When I yell at him to stop he completely ignores me and I have to push him off (hard) because he will not respond to a slap on the hindquarters or even me trying to pick him up; he fights with all his might to remain where he is. Please help. Erin

Dear Erin,
The situation reminds me of the lyrics "no victim no crime." If Dinker and Beethoven are not upset and are in no way hurt, then everything should be fine. Cats love to play and pounce on each other. They are just having fun. However, if the behavior bothers you and you want to stop it, try using a spray bottle. Squirt Barry while he is attacking, he should run off. Also, try not to yell at him or slap him. The yelling will only reduce your authority in instances you need it and the slapping is not good for either of you. Keep me posted. Simba

Dear Simba,
How can I help my kitten, Tito, become a sweet and tender kitten? I was told that kittens become wild cats if they are played with too much. Is this true? Will this make him not want to hug him and instead for him to want and play and scratch me? I love Tito dearly and I'd appreciate it if you'd help me communicate that to him. Jal

Dear Jal,
Cats do not become wild animals if played with too much. The type of interaction they have will you will vary depending on how you two interact.

You can make Tito a loving cat through warm interaction with him. Hold him and pet him and when you play with him, use a cat teaser or other toy for him to focus on. Make him chase little tin foil balls around the house. You will find that like dogs, cats do at times play 'fetch'. The important thing is to make sure you are not his toy. For that reason you want to avoid the following:

  • Waving your hands in front of him during play
  • Wrestling with him, even if playful
Discourage play that involves biting and scratching you. Instead redirect those instincts to other objects. Keep me posted. Simba

Check out Aggressive Behavior for tips on working with aggressive play problems.

Dear Simba:
My husband and I just adopted a 2-month-old kitten from the SPCA last week.

I grew up around cats and am used to them generally leaving me alone and being calm and gentle. Our kitten is the opposite, however. He is very energetic and pounces on things constantly. He also stalks us a lot. The pouncing on our feet and legs is disconcerting to my husband and me. When he pounces, he claws and bites and this frightens me. It seems to be getting worse. When I walk around, I feel the need to constantly scan the floor for him and to arm myself with a water gun, which does little good. Also, when I sit on the couch, he immediately jumps up onto it and stalks over to me. As soon as he gets to me, he pounces on my hands…I 'NO' longer feel comfortable sitting on the couch.

We play with him a lot throughout the day with his toys, but as soon as he tires of these, he runs for us. I feel terrorized and have been eating and doing as much as possible in another room away from him. I never imagined I would feel so scared of a cat! We are planning to return him to the SPCA since we hate living like this. We pet him, play with him, and give him attention. I am already sick of dealing with him, and we have had him for just one week. Everyone says the behavior is normal for a kitten, but we are very unhappy with how he is upset our lives. Please comment. -Caroline

Dear Caroline,
If you do not think you can make a commitment to this creature, I suggest you return him as soon as possible so that he can be adopted while still young. Older cats have a very difficult time finding homes.

Your kitten is a normal, crazy little fuzz ball. There are several things you can do to correct his behavior. These revolve around Play, Limits & Correction.

Do not play aggressive with him. In this I mean having him chase after you or placing your hands near his face. Do not yank him around or play rough. This type of play encourages aggressive behavior. When you play like this, you must remember that kitty does not know when playtime is over. He will continue with that play all day long. Do have him run after things (foam balls, tin foil, play mice) and jump after cat teasers. Toys of this kind redirect your kitten's attention towards non-human objects…in time he will see you less as a cat tree and more as people. In the meantime, I suggest you wear sweatpants and other heavier articles of clothing to protect your legs.

Limits & Correction
When you say 'NO', or when you spray him with water, mean it. If kitty attacks you, spray him with water (spray, do not squirt, at his face), say 'NO' and place him in a bathroom for a 5-10 minute time-out. Do this immediately upon his misbehaving. After a few days, kitty will catch on that 'NO' means isolation and that behavior that leads to a 'NO' is a bad thing.
Kittens will misbehave and cause tons of headaches. They are also very loving creatures that can grow with you and provide you companionship for decades. Think whether you want to have this kitten as part of your life and decide quickly, for his and your sake. Keep me posted. Simba

Playful and Energetic Cats

Hi Simba,
Our 8-year-old cat has developed a habit of taking socks from the top of the dryer or from our sock baskets in the closet and bringing them out into the living room, home office or wherever we are (meowing the whole time with the sock in his mouth). Then he drops it near us and stands there…then he goes to get another one. As the evening wears on, we can have a trail of socks all over our home. I do not understand why he does this.

Is he acting out some predator's scene during times he is not able to go outdoors? If it is some "look at the kill I caught, Mommy!" thing, I do not want to praise him, because I do not want to encourage this behavior. Is he just antsy? I cannot imagine it is for lack of attention because he is always laying on us and getting lots of petting. Even then, sometimes he just jumps off the couch and starts the sock routine. Can you please shed some light on this? Mag

Dear Mag,
Your kitty is initiating play with you. Cats often play fetch with their people where the person throws a ball of tin foil or paper and kitty chases it, catches it and brings it back to you between his teeth. I suspect that this is related to that. Your cat has likely built a very positive association with the socks. So what to do? I recommend that you cover up the socks or substitute them for something less messy. You have a good kitty there, keep me posted. Simba

Dear Simba,
We just got a new kitten, 6-weeks-old. The prior owners say that he was off a bottle and eating chicken and beef. We tried cat food and that was a failure. We then tried chicken-flavored food, it worked for a while, but now he will not eat it. He constantly "meows", runs, scratches, and never wants to sleep. We are at our wits end. we have fallen in love with our new kitten, but because of his behavior you are HIS last hope. Can you please help us? - Meowing for Help

Dear Meowing for Help,
You have a normal, energetic fun little kitten. Ok, so it is a bit of a headache but the love and affection this creature will bring to your life are well worth the trouble. Food. Any transition in food needs to be a slow one. Your kitten is used to chicken and beef and you want to move him to cat food. Mix 3/4 chicken/beef (tender and boneless) and 1/4 cat food in a bowl. Adjust the portions every couple of days (in very small increments) so that you reduce the chicken and beef % of the meal. Give him 2-3 weeks.

About his running and meowing. Kittens are hyperactive, insane, little fuzz balls. Give your kitten toys to play with and climb on and entertain him with a cat teaser. These activities will redirect his playful scratching and running. Also, he needs a scratching post for his hungry nails. Spray him lightly with water when you see him scratch things he is not supposed to and direct him to his post.

Your kitten is exhibiting normal behavior. Let him be a kitten, just allow him to direct his energy in a positive manner. Simba

I adopted a kitten 2 months ago from the animal shelter. She is now 4-months-old and is VERY active. At first, I thought it was because she was adjusting to her new surroundings and me. However, her activity level has not gone down. For hours, she will tear around the house jumping on the furniture, blinds, walls...anything. I have grown up with kittens and none of them have been quite as hyper as she is. Is there such thing as hyperactivity in cats? Will she ever calm down? If not, is there anything that I can do? Sarah

Dear Sarah,
You have a normal, healthy, crazy little kitten. Remember that kittens are insane little fuzz balls with a seemingly endless reservoir of energy.

While hyperactivity can be associated with disease of the thyroid glands, it affects cats older than 6 years of age. Because of that, I do not think that it applies. Your kitten's wildness will decrease after she is spayed. But in the meantime, enjoy her for her rambunctious self and playful fun. Your Pal,Simba

See the Bad Kitty for tips on keeping your kitty off the blinds & furniture.

Cat Rolling on Floor

Dear Simba,
When I come home my cat, Ella, runs up to me and starts meowing and rolls around all over by my feet. She does this EVERY TIME I come home - even if I was only gone for 10 minutes. What does this mean? Is it that she is happy to see me? Susan

Dear Susan,
Cats and most felines will roll on their backs when they feel comfortable and safe. It looks to me that you have a very loving and caring cat that feels very close to you. Simba

Cat Kneading and Purring

I have recently just moved to a studio apartment. Fuzzie, my wonderful furry friend has adjusted very well. He grew up with his sister, Sissy, and we just recently separated them. Fuzzie has adjusted.

Ever since Fuzzie was little and up until now, he has come to me when I get home from work, sit on the couch or lay on the bed, and has started kneading my neck. He will do it for a little while, with his motor is going fast. He also puts his nose close to my hair. What is he doing and is this good? I love my Fuzz and he is very spoiled. he is my baby. Kathy

Dear Kathy,
Yes this is good. Fuzzie's kneading, purring and placing of his nose near you are all signs of affection. These are tender showings of love that go back to his kitten days.

Young kittens rub up against their mothers and knead on them to stimulate nursing. Purring, also originates in kitten-hood where it served as way of communicating 'all is well' mother. The end result is that Fuzzie, like many cats, have built very warm associations with this behavior. Even as adults, they exhibit this behavior when they feel loved and cared for. Sounds like you have a happy cat there. Take care. Simba

Lonely Cats

Hi Simba,
My girlfriend and I adopted a neutered kitty a few months ago. He is very loving and we spoil him with toys and a kitty tower and treats. He is well behaved (other than jumping on the counter) and does not scratch much. The problem is he has no contact with the outside world. Is he missing important bonding time with other cats? Eli J

Deal Eli J,
It is good that you keep your kitty indoors. Outside cats tend not to live as long and are more prone to injury and disease than their indoor friends. As for your kitty, he appears to be a very lucky little guy. Whether he is lonely or not depends on the amount of time he is all by himself and how dependent/independent he is. If both of you work during the day, consider getting him a playmate to keep your kitty company. If you do, be sure to follow the notes in Helping New Cats Adjust so as to make a clean & safe introduction. Either way, it sounds as though he is in good hands. Keep me posted. Simba

Dear Simba,
I have a 9-week-old kitten who is alone all day. She is very playful at night, often biting and scratching me. Co-workers suggest a second cat to keep her company. Is this helpful or simply compounding the problem?Glenda

Dear Glenda,
Your kitten will be much happier with a new playmate. A new friend will give your little one greater emotional independence. She will still be your loving kitten, but she will be a more well-rounded friend. In addition, you get to help another litte guy or gal! Check out the letters below to find out the proper steps to introduce a new cat to your home Your Pal, Simba

Hi Simba:
We have a 4-month-old kitten. We leave him in the basement where he sleeps when we are away at work and school. I feel guilty not spending much time with him. Is 1/2 hour enough time to play with him each day? I do not have more time than that. We live in a rural area and would like to let the cat stay outside where it is more interesting for him. But we have snow on the ground now and I worry it is too cold to let him out. We are renting our house and aren't allow to put a hole in the door for the cat to go in and out. Mari

Dear Mari,
Half an hour is fine, assuming of course, that you let the little guy hang out with you even if you two are not playing. Be sure that you stock your home with kitty trinkets like rolled-up tin foil, foamy mice and a cat tree or some type of scratching surface. I think that you are doing just fine. I am not a big fan of letting cats outside since they can be exposed to all sorts of diseases and dangerous creatures and cars. I think that a well-stocked home will do kitty just fine. Keep me posted. Simba

Dear Simba,
I have an 11-week-old female Birman kitten that I have had for a week. Before I got her (I had to wait 3 months) I was working from home, I now work from home 2-3 times per week. I also go away on Saturday nights. When I am at work and at night I keep her in the spare bedroom with her food, a scratching post and lots of toys. She settles down at night (I tire her with play just before bedtime). However, when I come home from work I find her crying at the door. I am not sure if she does this all day or just when she hears me come home.

Even when I am at home she cries a lot during the day. I realize she still needs time to settle into her new home but I am worried that she may become lonely and depressed, as she is very affectionate. I do not know whether I should get her a companion cat. I live in a small 2-bedroom house and one Kitty feels like enough to cope with.

Do you think I should get her a companion? Will she get used to being alone? Will 2 cats make twice as much noise, and then twice the food and costs? I often worry how she is doing during the day without me and its affecting my work. - Worried Mum of New Kitty

Dear Worried Mum of New Kitty,
You are very kind to worry about your little kitten. As you probably know, Birman cats love to be around people and are very social creatures. I cannot tell you whether your kitten is lonely, but I do believe that cats reared in pairs are usually better adjusted and less prone to the ups and downs of solitary living.

I think that getting your kitten a playmate would make her much happier and would ease your day to day worries. If you are concerned about noise, consider getting either an Abyssinian or a Somali as they are among the quieter breeds. As for costs, because you will buy in bulk, I do not imagine that your costs would rise too much. And even if you do spend more, consider it a gift to yourself and to your kitten…not to mention the lucky little guy that you take home with you! So get a new kitten and make everyone happy. Keep me posted. Simba

Check out Helping New Cats Adjust for tips on how to make a new cat and a resident cat friends.

Cat Watching TV

Hi Simba,
My cat likes to sit on an ottoman in front of the television, my husband worries that it is not good for him. Does sitting and watching television up close hurt him? Dawn

Dear Dawn,
I have not heard of cats being harmed by watching TV. What I do know is that cats are often fascinated by the noises and action on TV. You may have noticed how kitty reacts to fast action sports (i.e., car racing) or nature shows with quick moving animals or chirping birds (National Geographic, or Big Cat Diary).

To your cat, the TV is but another window in your home, albeit one with tons of great stuff! While watching Animal Planet, I have seen kittens paw at, and look around the TV for the creatures on the screen, as though the animals are right behind the screen. So let kitty enjoy his TV and if you want to you can even buy special videos for him (click here for a popular video) Simba

All contents are intended for entertainment purposes only. Pet owners should in no way use this site's content as a substitute for the opinions of a veterinarian or other qualified pet health provider. Owners should consult a veterinarian or other qualified pet health provider for all pet health matters. All pet care is the responsibility of the owner.
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