Dear Critter Corner: My new 9-month-old kitten has a lot of energy, jumping on the furniture, counters and cabinets. How can I prevent her from getting up to any mischief?
Young kittens and cats do have a lot of energy and need to channel it in appropriate ways toward their human caregivers and their new environment. For some cats this may mean getting ample physical exercise, while for others they may need more mental stimulation or a combination of the two.
To incorporate these into your daily routine with your new cat, set aside some time in the morning, evening and just before bedtime for playtime. Try to observe what your cat is interested in, whether it likes toys on the ground, climbing on furniture or seeking out hiding places to explore. Based on what drives your cat’s interests, you’ll want to engage them in toys that do the same.
If your cat likes jumping up on items at home, try playing with them using a long cat wand with a toy at the end. Get your cat really running, chasing, jumping and catching the toy. This plays into their natural instinct to hunt and will provide that physical exercise that they’re craving. It will also continue to build up their endurance and agility and keep their weight in check.
For cats that prefer toys on the ground, wand toys can be helpful if the toy at the end is slowly dragged across the floor, giving the cat room to chase and pounce on it. Alternatively, small robotic toys like bugs and mice can be enticing for your cat and require less interaction from you. These can be great to have handy while you’re cleaning or cooking so that your cat is engaged and enjoying an activity while you’re busy.
For other cats that like to explore hidden areas, hide a few treats in their cat tree, in shoeboxes or other puzzle toys and let them find the reward. They will be driven by the treat, and the activity will help engage their senses as well as provide mental stimulation. The more actively engaged the kitten is in daily play, the less likely they will look for inappropriate ways to entertain themselves when you’re busy or not home.