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How to Create an Enriching Environment for Your Kitten

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How to Create an Enriching Environment for Your Kitten

Kittens are curious, energetic fluffballs with boundless energy. A safe, enriching environment can cater to your kitten’s playful side, stimulate them physically and mentally, and benefit their health and development for the rest of their life.

 

 

Tips for Creating a Safe, Enriching Environment for Kittens

Keeping your kitten indoors has significant benefits because it protects them from a large number of dangers. But without all the sights, sounds and smells of nature, a kitten needs other ways to stimulate their mind and body.


To build your kitten an enriching environment, provide them with safe places for hiding and resting, like window ledges, carriers or perches. Your kitten should feel protected in their safe spots and may prefer an enclosed resting area. While kittens spend a great deal of their time sleeping, their periods of wakefulness can and should be used to stimulate psychological and physical activity.


It’s important to create stimulating places for entertainment and play, as well. Cats can benefit from spaces at different vertical levels, like cat trees and perches. A variety of scratching posts can teach your kitten appropriate scratching while nurturing their natural instincts, and protect your furniture and carpet from their sharp claws.


Many cats also benefit from social activity with other cats, especially if they were introduced to other cats early in life. Providing your kitten with another kitten or young cat as a play buddy can help meet their need for near-constant play and motion. Keep in mind that cats put a premium on managing space, so it’s important that multiple-cat homes offer a variety of places to hide, sleep and observe, using both the horizontal and vertical dimensions.

 

 

Engaging Games and Toys for Kittens

An important component to enriching your kitten’s environment is socialization and play, especially if your kitten is the only animal in the household. A kitten’s natural predator-play behavior is usually easy to stimulate with interactive toys, such as wand toys or balls to pounce on or chase.

 

 

Games for Kittens

Playing kitten games with your pet helps them develop coordination and natural hunting skills. It also can help them learn boundaries and develop a bond with their new owner. Aim for 10 to 15 minutes of structured playtime two or three times a day. One way to prevent the “nighttime crazies” is to engage in active, vigorous play before feeding your kitten at bedtime. This helps wear out the kitten before bed and mimics the natural hunting-feeding-grooming-sleeping sequence in cats.


Engaging games to play with your kitten include:

  • Hide and seek.Call your kitten to you; this may be easiest at mealtime. When your kitten comes running, move to a different room and call again. Reward them for finding you with a fun toy or treat.
  • Fetch.Toss a toy across the floor for your kitten to chase. When they “catch” the toy, call them back to you. If they bring the toy back to you, reward them with praise or treats to reinforce the behavior.
  • Paper bag prey.Place a paper shopping bag on its side, and gently scratch the sides or put a toy inside to encourage your kitten inside. Poke and scratch the outside of the bag while your kitten happily pursues the unknown “prey.”

 

 

Stimulate a Kitten Through Training

An important component to enriching your kitten’s environment is socialization and play, especially if your kitten is the only animal in the household. A kitten’s natural predator-play behavior is usually easy to stimulate with interactive toys, such as wand toys or balls to pounce on or chase.

 

 

Keeping a Kitten Entertained While Alone

A greater challenge is providing enrichment opportunities for kittens when a person or another pet is not present to interact with them. Puzzle toys are one option to fight kitten boredom. These toys come in a variety of designs to entertain your kitten and reward her with a treat or food, such as Opens a new window IAMS™ ProActive Health™ Healthy Kitten with Chicken. This offers twofold benefits, providing play and proper nutrition for supporting a kitten’s energy and playtime.

 

 


Kittens and cats will spend a great deal of time watching the outside world through windows, especially if there’s a bird feeder or butterfly garden within view. Make sure to keep at least one window blind open — especially if it looks out on an area with frequent movement and activity. There are also a number of “cat TV” videos of squirrels, birds and other nature scenes available online to keep a cat entertained.


Providing your kitten with enrichment opportunities helps prevent stress and the development of abnormal behaviors. Growing from a kitten into a cat in an enriched environment with lots of physical and psychological exercise supports the overall well-being of your pet at all stages of her life.

 

 

 

 

How to Create an Enriching Environment for Your Kitten
  • orange cat in hands of pet parent
    orange cat in hands of pet parent

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    Are You Ready to Adopt a Cat? Here’s Everything You Need to Know

    Introducing a new cat into your home and life is a rewarding and fulfilling decision, one that requires some thought before you head to the shelter. So what should you consider before adopting a cat? Follow our tips to prepare for the best.

     

    What to Consider before Adopting a Cat 

    First, let’s explore some of the commitments you’ll need to make to ensure your new cat is content (and that you are, too!).

     

    Cat-proofing Your Home 

    Make sure your home is cat-safe by eliminating or hiding away anything that could harm or poison your newbie. This includes:

    • Household cleaners and chemicals
    • Medications
    • Toxic plants, including aloe vera, azalea, rhododendron, lilies, chrysanthemum, mistletoe, philodendron, poinsettias and tulips
    • Toxic foods, including chocolate, coffee and tea, dairy, raw meat, grapes and raisins, carrots, onions, garlic and alcohol

     

    Cat Supplies You’ll Need 

    You’ll need a cat bed or hideout, toys, scratching mats, a cat tree or climbing tower, food and water bowls, litter and boxes, and, of course, well-balanced, nutritious cat food. IAMS™ provides a wide range of tailored, nutritional cat food to promote the health of your new cat.

     

    Cost of Cat Care 

    Plan to budget for an annual exam (older cats or those with special conditions may need more frequent visits), medication and parasite preventives. It’s smart to save for emergency care, too.

     

    Cat Exercise and Playtime 

    Providing daily play and exercise opportunities can keep your cat physically and psychologically healthy, and help strengthen your bond. Toys, feather wands and cat trees should be part of your regular rotation! And believe it or not, many cats can be trained to walk on a leash.

     

    Cat Socialization 

    Not all cats are solitary or antisocial; however, they can become this way if they aren’t introduced properly to new experiences. Strange sounds, smells and even appliances in your home might make a new cat anxious, as can other family members and pets (more on this later). So be sure to help your new cat get accustomed to unfamiliar people, places and things, and reward and praise them when doing so.

     

    Litter and Litterboxes 

    Make sure you have the necessary box, scoop and other supplies to keep things tidy. If you have a multiple-cat household, provide one box per cat, plus one additional box, to help quell territorial issues.

     

    A Lifetime Commitment 

    Keep in mind that cats often live into their teens and maybe even a second decade if you’re lucky. Know that you’re adopting a true family member for the extent of their lifetime.

     

    orange cat in hands of pet parent

     

    Choosing the Right Cat for You 

    A cat match made in heaven starts by asking some questions about yourself.

     

    What Is Your Lifestyle Like? 

    If you are not home regularly or gone for extended amounts of time, a cat’s independent nature can be a great fit. If your life includes other people or pets, make sure their behaviors, personalities and lifestyles suit having a cat family member — both for their sake and the cat’s. Allergies can be a dealbreaker, so take note of anyone in your home with cat allergies and their or your willingness to take allergy medication, vacuum constantly and groom the cat regularly to alleviate symptoms. 

    Your home should also have the space for play and exercise and shouldn’t harbor anything dangerous to your cat.

     

    What Cat Personality Suits You? 

    Cats offer a variety of distinctive personality types, ranging from puppy-like cuddliness to feigned disinterest. Some cats are constantly on the go, exploring and poking into this and that, while others are certified nap ninjas. Vocally, they can be chatty catties or more taciturn souls. In short, you have a wide spectrum of personality types to choose from — which is what makes cats such fascinating and easy-to-love pets.

     

    Do You Want to Adopt a Kitten or an Adult Cat? 

    Kittens will need a lot of attention, direction and a fair amount of patience. Their size, energy and inquisitive nature means you’ll need to supervise them closely.

    Adult cats often will settle more quickly into a routine once introduced to their new home. An older or senior adult cat may be even more comfortable interacting with children and furniture. And providing a real home for a cat in their golden years is a rewarding and noble gesture you can feel good about.

     

    Fur Better or Fur Worse 

    All cats shed. This will affect anyone with allergies and could also cause health issues for your cat, like hairballs or matting. Long-haired cats need to be brushed more regularly, and not all cats love this, so you may have to train yours to sit through this daily ritual.

     

    orange cat in hands of pet parent

     

    Where to Adopt a Cat 

    There are several reasons adopting a cat from a shelter or rescue organization is preferable to buying. More effort goes into matchmaking when you adopt, because shelters and rescues generally have more information about their cats. Plus, adopting your cat from a shelter or a rescue actually helps two cats: the one you adopt and the homeless cat who takes your cat’s place.

    In contrast, buying can be much more expensive than adopting, and the practice encourages cat mills and increases the number of pets who need homes.

     

    Adopting a Cat from a Shelter 

    At shelters you can often visit with more than one cat and breed. The screening process can be easier (many shelters allow you to take a cat home that day), and adoption fees can be lower than at a rescue. However, the vet services might not cover all that your cat needs.

     

    Adopting a Cat from a Rescue 

    Rescues have some advantages over shelters. They often know more about candidate cats because they may be placed in foster homes and even trained for a home. So you could adopt a cat that is already litterbox trained, socialized with other pets and with kids, trained to keep off furniture, etc.

    Depending on the rescue’s screening process, you might have to make an appointment to see one cat at a time. While the screening might take longer, it’s designed to match you to the right cat. Adoption fees might be a little higher with a rescue, but they often cover more vet care, too.

     

    orange cat in hands of pet parent

     

    The Cat Adoption Process 

    While rescues and shelters have similar adoption processes, they do vary depending on the organization. But you can count on these basic steps:

     

    1. Application

    Make sure to have a valid ID to verify age (most organizations require adopters be adults) and address. You might also need references, so it’s a good idea to email or call ahead of time and ask about the application and overall adoption process.

    Some of the cat adoption questions you might be asked include:

    • Do you own or rent?
    • Have you had a cat before?
    • Do you currently have pets? Are they spayed or neutered? How are they with other animals?
    • Do you have children at home? Are they good with pets?
    • Does everyone residing in your home approve of adopting a cat?
    • Where will your cat be kept during the day and in the evening?
    • What are your care plans for when you have to leave home for an extended period of time, such as for a work trip or vacation?

     

    They might also ask questions about your health, occupation and personal life to help match the right cat to the right parent.

     

    2. Home Inspection 

    A home and family meet-and-greet might be required to see how everyone, including other pets, gets along with your prospective new cat. And the organization will want to ensure your residence will be a comfortable and safe home.

     

    3. Adoption Fees 

    As we mentioned, cat adoption costs can vary, with rescues often being higher than shelters. Fortunately, the adoption fee will take care of basic veterinary services you will need anyway, including vaccinations, spaying or neutering, and microchipping.

    Adopting a new cat isn’t just rewarding — it can be life-changing. Taking stock of the commitments of cat ownership, and taking the time to find your perfect feline match, will help set you both up for years of joy.

    orange cat in hands of pet parent
    orange cat in hands of pet parent
    orange cat in hands of pet parent
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