4 basic patterns of kitten play in an infographic

The infographic summarises the four different fundamental types of kitten play in instinctive preparation for adulthood in the wild. The catch here is that adult domestic cats behave like kittens as humans keep them mentally that way and therefore, they continue to play as kittens into adulthood. We expect that but it is arguably a symptom of stunted psychological development.

The 4 basic patterns of kitten play
The 4 basic patterns of kitten play
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RELATED: The reason why domestic cats stop playing with toys quickly

There are lots of cat toys on the market to facilitate these play sessions. The classic is the cat tease – a feather on a stick – which encourages the bird swat technique. Using a cat tease is the way cat photographers can get some great active studio photos.

Ken Flick using a cat tease to grab the attention of a Bombay cat in a studio session at a cat show
Ken Flick using a cat tease to grab the attention of a Bombay cat in a studio session at a cat show. Photo: MikeB using film.

It is claimed that commercially made toys lack two essential qualities which make them less than ideal for the domestic cat.

  • They are too hard which means that it cannot be ‘killed’ (destroyed) and bitten (see next item);
  • They are too heavy. The ideal toy is light so that it is easy to toss around and soft so that cat teeth can satisfyingly sink into it.

For a kitten, often the most exciting objects for play are the simplest and cheapest by which I mean homemade such as paper in a ball or the traditional ball of wool. These usually keep kittens occupied longer than commercial plastic toys.

Special games

This refers to individual cats making up their special individualised games. They become almost like rituals as the cat becomes an adult and they become routines because they are rewarded in social interactions with their caregivers.

A good example comes from Thomas Huxley, a renowned biologist who lived with a long series of domestic cat companions over 40 years. A young tabby male cat developed a game of jumping on dinner-guests’ shoulders and refused to jump off until they fed him a treat. The cat wasn’t hungry. He was just happy to play a game.

An anonymous cat owner reported a different feline-play routine. He put down sheets of newspaper in the kitchen to keep the floor clean when it was wet outside. One of his cats would launch himself at the newspapers as fast as she could. When she hit the first newspaper she put the brakes on and skidded along which dragged all the newspaper with her as if she was riding on a magic carpet. She would then return to the far wall and wait for the newspaper to be put down again and repeat!

It is likely that each cat caregiver will have their own examples.

Researching the Internet, what are the best cat toys by review results?

Based on online reviews, here are some highly recommended cat toys that feline friends seem to adore:

  1. Rainbow Cat Charmer: A classic wand toy that’s highly interactive and easy to control. It provides plenty of fabric for your cat to hold onto and attack. Just be cautious if your cat tends to rip it up without supervision, as they could ingest and choke on the fabric.
  2. Bergan Turbo Scratcher Cat Toy: This multi-purpose toy combines a cardboard scratcher and a ball track. Cats love it for scratching, playing, and chasing the ball. Plus, it’s great for independent play, especially during those midnight zoomies.
  3. Robotic Toy with 360-Degree Movement: If you’d like your cat to entertain themselves, this toy is a winner. It moves unpredictably, keeping your kitty engaged and on the prowl. Many reviewers appreciate its ability to keep their cats entertained even when they’re not actively playing.
  4. Fynigo Paw-Shaped Cat Laser: For younger cats, the Fynigo laser pointer is a hit. It provides engaging playtime and satisfies their hunting instincts. Just make sure not to shine the laser directly into your cat’s eyes.
  5. PetSafe Bolt Interactive Laser Cat Toy: This interactive laser toy keeps cats engaged as they chase the moving laser dot. It’s a great way to provide mental stimulation and exercise for your feline friend.

RELATED: 10 facts about using hands as play toys for your cat

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