Playtime with children

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Your kitten is born to play

When it comes to playtime, your kitten is a natural; and will turn anything into a game. A piece of paper or foil screwed up into a ball, a pen cap, or any small object suspended by a piece of string; kittens simply can't resist the temptation to play. Better still, she'll be more than happy for you to join in the fun and games, which is why playtime develops a strong bond between the two of you.

A new world to explore

Being an inquisitive little creature, your new kitten will love to explore, especially covered spaces. A paper bag, an open cupboard or drawer, under the bed; an inquisitive kitten simply has to find out what's in there. So a word of warning; please don't leave the washing machine or tumble drier doors open as kittens have been known to become trapped inside. And whatever you do, don't leave that toilet seat up…

Kitten's own toys

You can have loads of fun with kitten toys, especially small, soft toys. They can easily be batted about or picked up in her claws or teeth. And by playing hide and seek with a soft toy, the inborn hunting instinct will come into play and she'll have hours of fun tracking down her 'prey'. Give her a catnip toy and watch her roll around with happiness; catnip contains an ingredient called nepetalactone that cats love. But watch out, some cats react aggressively to catnip, while some don't react at all.

A kitten's natural curiosity might lead her to try taking a bite out of your house plants, and many of these can be poisonous. As a precaution, it's a good idea to check out what you have in your pots and keep any dangerous ones well out of reach. Lilies, poinsettias and cyclamens can be especially poisonous to cats.

Scratching from the start

Scratching and stretching are essential to your kitten's wellbeing, and your curtains or soft furnishings are almost certain to be an easy target. But give her a scratching post from day one and it should prove to be a useful distraction from your furniture. Better still, it will keep her claws in trim. If your kitten doesn't seem too keen on the scratching post at first, try sprinkling a little catnip around the base. Most cats can't resist the smell, so she might end up thinking the post isn't such a bad idea after all.

Kittens and kids are made for each other, eventually

It's hardly surprising that children simply adore kittens. But if they're under 5 years old, you're advised not to let them play with a kitten under 6 months. That's because they're very playful and their claws and teeth are very sharp; a very young child might not understand that the occasional scratch is all part of the game. It's wonderful for children to grow up with a pet in the family, and they'll develop a much happier relationship when both are old enough to understand the other.

Teach your children how to care for the new member of the family; how to play with her, what and how to feed her (not forgetting what not to feed her). And give them a sense of responsibility by taking their turn to wash up the food bowl. Irresistible though a kitten is, the children need to understand how much sleep she needs, and not to disturb her when she curls up in her bed to get some much needed rest.

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