Hoping the cat enthusiasts on the Dope can help me out…
I bought a kitten for my husband for christmas. He’s a perfect kitten-- sweet, loving, cuddly, but also energetic. I play with him, and my husband and stepson play with him, but husband is at work all day and stepson is at school all day. I work from home, so I can provide some attention, but I can’t spend all day entertaining him.
Can others provide some creative entertainment solutions for me? I have some toys, but he obviously would rather play with SOMEONE and the toys, rather than the toys by themselves. His favorite is, “run around after the mouse on a string”.
I’m also thinking of getting a second, just for playmates, but I’ll have to ease the family into the idea, since this is the first “family pet”.
My first recommendation is getting him a second cat. They can play with each other when you can’t. There’s the added bonus that young cats tend to get along with each other better, since they’re less accustomed to being solitary – being in a big kitten pile with his siblings wasn’t that long ago.
Other thoughts – cat trees, especially ones with multiple levels and things to do, and placed in front of windows with things to watch. Put a bird feeder outside the window. Make sure he’s got scratching posts, too. Some cats really like vertical heights, so a tall tree would be more entertaining than a smaller one, someplace where he can watch you from up above.
But when it comes down to it, a cat needs interactive play, either with his human or another cat/dog/guinea pig/whatever, and a kitten especially so since they are more boundless in their energy. Their stalking and hunting instinct is a part of the package with a cat.
The very best plaything for a kitten is another kitten. But, short of that, if you get a tall cat tree with various platforms and boxes on it, you can hang toys from elastic (make sure the elastic is sturdy, well-anchored, and not long enough to get tangled in) and they’ll bounce enough for him to keep them moving. Be sure the cat tree is anchored to a wall, too.
We have a ring-toy like this one that our younger cat enjoys. Our older cat likes crinkle-toys - especially if they’re catnip-spiked.
This toy looks like an awful lot of fun. However, one of the Fun Features of cats is that they’ll often enjoy a toy like mad for the first, say, ten minutes after you bring it home and will then ignore it forever after that. The length of time they play with the toy is also usually inversely related to the amount of money you spent on it or the amount of time and trouble you went to in order to obtain it. Except for the second kitten. That’s the most expensive option, but it lasts the longest.
I’ll third this notion. When they are both kittens is the best time for introductions and they should help wear each other out ( though you should still be making time to play with them ). In most respects I think two cats is better than one, though this does not necessarily hold true for additional iterations beyond two. You will pay a bit more in vet bills and food, plus more litter-box cleanings. But it should save you some aggravation - it certainly helped contain my last little hellion of a kitten when I got him a new sibling.
Otherwise I second Kaio suggestions on offering climbing space. But the only thing that tires out kittens ( and puppies ) is a lot of play and another kitten will usually have more free time and energy than you for that ;).
If you ever plan to get another cat, now’s the time. If not, your cat will be just fine alone as long as you give it some attention, healthy food and a safe place to live. If you don’t buy toys kittens tend to MAKE them! Old milk tabs, bits of plastic, bags and boxes… your legs…
However I have several of those string and stick toys mine love, plus some crinkly mice thrown about. I have four but honestly none of them are very social with one another but they do get together for playtime. You could try some catnip toys too. Some cats go nuts over them. I wish mine did.
My husband is wary of two cats. I think, in his mind, one cat is a small footprint, but two cats makes the whole house a cat-zone. This is an energetic breed-- a bengal-- so I feel like another energetic kitty would solve a lot of problems. I don’t want kitty getting bored and destructive.
That being said, the last cat I lived with started peeing on my bed while I was on vacation (my roommate’s cat, but I bonded with him) out of, I assume, separation anxiety, so I’m a little wary of a kitten that doesn’t get enough play time.
We will probably keep him mainly indoors, but we do have a mostly-fenced backyard I’d like to introduce him to at some point, maybe first on a leash or some such so I don’t have to worry about him bolting.
Oh hells yes. Get a kitten. Bengals need a way to channel their copious energy constructively, or they will be only too happy to do so destructively. Bengals by themselves do not have a small footprint.
Bengals tend to to well on leashes, actually. If you can give him a large enclosed run outside that might help a lot too. But this is a type of cat you’ll need to play with (and wear out) a lot more than other kinds of cats.
If you have a backyard fence, building an overhang at the top at a 45 degree angle will prevent him from climbing over and escaping (assuming the fence is tall enough he can’t just jump over).
A bengal cat wheel might also be a really good idea to burn off some of his extra energy.
Also, as far as cats peeing on the bed when you’re gone-- we had almost the same problem, namely, our cat threw up on the bed when we were gone. We ended up putting a plastic sheet over it, and that did it.
My cat got so much more relaxed and so much less neurotic after we got a second (annnddd then a third). Cats don’t really need a lot of direct play time with humans, at least not once they are out of that hyperactive kitten stage (I remember I would hide that godforsaken butterfly-on-a-string, because if I had to flick it at my kitten one more time, I would lose my mind). Twenty minutes a day of peek-a-boo or chase the laser pointer, and they’re entertained–especially if they have a buddy to take up the slack.
My cats are curious and like variety; they are never so entertained as when I rearrange rooms or bring home a new piece of furniture. Of course, I don’t really redecorate that often, but what keeps them occupied is boxes. They love boxes. Every time I get a package, buy a case of beer, get a new pair of shoes, I throw the box on the floor for a week or so. They investigate it, climb into it, skulk under it, use it as a blind from which to ambush one another, nap in it, perhaps customize it to their liking.
Getting another kitten might not always be the answer. Cats tend to have a hierarchy, and you can’t guarantee they’ll get along. Even as a kitten, Maggie hated the other cats. She’d definitely prefer being an “only cat”. I’d wait and see first before trying that.
Is it possible that he’d be willing to sit on your lap, at least?