How to Avoid Rough Play
Rough, crazy little kittens are a joy to watch and often a source of laughter in the home. However if rough behavior is encouraged, those cute little kittens can grow into rough, out of control cats. Cats that play rough do not mean to cause harm, but their behavior can cause bite wounds and scratches on other animals and people in the family. To discourage rough play, here are some recommendations which will help to ensure that your kitty maintains his manners.
Stop Rough Play Before it Starts
The best way to eliminate rough playing behaviors is to discourage them from the start. While it may be tempting to use your hands and feet to play with your little kitty, this type of behavior teaches kittens that it’s okay to attack body parts. Kittens are naturally rough players, and allowing them to attack, kick, and bite your hands and feet encourages this type of behavior as your kitten grows; a behavior that becomes less cute and more painful with age. Always use toys to play with your cat, instead.
When a kitten starts to get a little rough during play, stop the game immediately and walk away. By ignoring the rough behavior, the kitten will learn that biting and scratching leads to isolation. When your cat plays appropriately, shower the kitten with more attention to reinforce the good behavior.
Teaching Children to Play Appropriately with Cats
Cats can pick up rough behavior from children who are not aware that they are playing too rough with the household pets. Before you bring a cat home, talk with your children about how to play with the cat and emphasize the importance of gentle interactions. If you see your child handling a cat roughly, or playing games that encourage scratching or biting, remind them that this type of behavior is not acceptable for the cat and separate the child from the pet for five minutes. When you notice the child handing the cat gently, praise the behavior and thank the child for helping to raise a well-behaved pet.
Rough Play with Other Pets
Other animals in the household can also teach your new kitten or cat that playing rough is okay. Try to discourage this type of behavior by separating animals if they get too rough during playtime. It is important, however, to know the difference between normal play and truly rough play. Cats will pounce on each other playfully, or roll around on the floor together, which is normal. If you see scratching, biting, swatting, or hissing, it is time to break them up.
Remove each cat from the room and place them in separate areas of the home for five minutes or so to distract them from their game. Keep the cats in a quiet room with a soft bed and some toys to play with on their own. “Time outs” can be useful for teaching a cat that rough play is not acceptable.
Don’t Treat Rough Play with Rough Handling
Never swat or strike a cat, even if you find yourself a victim of a painful scratch or bite. When you find yourself on the receiving end of a kitty injury, simply stop what you’re doing, take a deep breath, and gently relocate the cat to another room. Rough reactions or violent punishment will only cause the cat to become fearful of you, reinforcing the bad behavior. Removing the cat from the situation is the best course of action when you notice rough play.