How to Know Why Your Kitten Doesn’t Want to Play

What to do with a kitten that won’t play:

  • Play for 15 minutes each day
  • Stuff treats or catnip into the toys
  • Take them to the vet for a health checkup
  • Use interactive toys

Kittens that don’t want to play can be sick, overweight, bored with the toy, or afraid of a new environment.

Some breeds are more active than others.

Kittens are very social creatures that enjoy various games. Their playmates can be other kittens, dogs in the home, and you.

That’s why you can get worried when your kitten doesn’t want to play. It can be very disappointing.

This article will tell you why your kitten doesn’t want to play and what you can do about it.


How to Help a Kitten That Won’t Play

Various reasons can make your kitten less interested in playing, either by themselves or with you.

But the good thing is that you can train your kitten to play more often and strengthen the bond between you and your furry friend.

Try these tips to make your kitten enjoy the games you play.


1. Stuff Treats Into the Toys

If your kitten doesn’t want to play, place some treats inside your kitten’s favorite toys. This adds an extra challenge for your kitten.

Once they have chased and caught the toy, they have to work out how to get the reward inside.  

This adds more fun to the game. Your kitten will become more interested in playing, hoping to find the hidden “treasures.”


2. Play for Short Sessions Each Day

No matter how energetic your kitten might be, they also need some time to rest from play activities.

Ensure you keep these play sessions short. Playing for a long time might make them bored. They won’t want to play next time, thinking all game sessions are endless.

Consistency is also important. Play with your kitten for short sessions each day. They then get used to these games.

The Humane Society recommends that you play with your kitten two to three times a day for at least 15 minutes each time.


3. Don’t Force Your Kitten to Play

Cats don’t like forced interactions. If your kitten is shy, don’t force them to play. Take it slow when introducing new games to them.

You can throw a ball or string across the room and wait for them to pounce on it. Your kitten will soon get used to playing.

If you force them to play, they will be even more reluctant to play with you.


4. Make Your Newly Adopted Kitten Feel Safe

A newly adopted kitten can be afraid of a new environment. They can’t play with you before they feel comfortable in their new surroundings.

To make your new kitten feel safe, do these things:

  • Keep them in a small room instead of letting them roam the entire house
  • Give them a blanket and a cozy bed
  • Make sure they have access to clean water and a litterbox
  • Hold and comfort your kitten

Dong these things will reassure your kitten that they are in a safe environment. They then will slowly approach you for some games.


5. Use Interactive Toys

Kittens love to climb, pounce, chase, and hide. So, include any of these activities while playing with your kitten to entertain them.

Use cardboard boxes as tunnels or empty paper bags for your kitten to hide in.

Feather teasers are perfect for chasing and swiping. Any toy shaped like a mouse or a small bird is likely to excite your kitten.

Keep in mind that when kittens play, they think they are hunting. So, move the toy across the room or their field of vision.

Make the toy wiggle and dart like the real prey. Sometimes, the most interesting part of the game is when your kitten gets to stalk and pounce on the toy.

Some cats also find catnip-filled toys irresistible.

Avoid toys with string or ribbon, which could injure your kitten. It’s also a good idea to keep some toys aside specifically for play sessions together.

This increases their anticipation for the next play. The idea of having “prey” that is always available will make your kitten find the toys boring.


6. Visit a Vet

If your kitten stops playing altogether, and they are sleeping a lot, it could be that they are sick.

Kittens that don’t play as much might be suffering from a stomach upset or intestinal worms.

This makes them uncomfortable, and they don’t want to engage in any activity.


7. Create a Play Area

It’s important to have a dedicated room where your kitten plays. This helps prevent naughty behaviors in other areas of the house.

Pick either a room or the corner of your room to give your cat. This place is now your kitten’s play area, or paradise.

Scatter toys around this playroom. These toys provide your kitten with entertainment even when you are not available to play with them.

You can provide them with cat scratchers, cardboard boxes, or a cat tree.


8. Play With Your Kitten Before Bedtime

Engage in active play with your kitten right before bedtime. Remember, cats are crepuscular; they’re active at dawn and dusk.

Playing before you go to sleep ensures they will be ready to sleep when you are. Otherwise, our kitten might swap at your feet to initiate play when you want to sleep.


Why Your Kitten Doesn’t Want to Play

Here are reasons which can make your kitten less interested in games:


1. A Sick Kitten Won’t Play

Your kitten may not play if they are not feeling well. If your kitten is normally playful and suddenly they stop, this could indicate that something is wrong with them.

A sick kitten normally has a drop in energy levels. A behavior change is one of the signs of illness in your little furry friend.

If your typically happy and energetic feline has turned into a lethargic couch potato, it’s time to take them to the vet for a checkup.


2. The Play Style or Toy Is Boring

Each cat has their play style and toy preference. Your kitten could be less interested in playing because they find the type of play boring.

Some kittens may enjoy interacting with you during playtime by engaging in a game of fetch and chase.

Others may want to be at a distance with the use of stringer toys. Perhaps your kitten is the reserved type and likes to play with their interactive toy that is battery-operated.

Although kittens are generally playful, they have varying toy preferences.

There are tons of cat toys on the market, so you will need to choose one that sparks your kitten’s interest.

Some toys squeak, bounce, chirp, have feathers, float, or light up.


3. A Newly Adopted Kitten Is Afraid

If you have just adopted your kitten, they need time to adjust before they can start playing.

If your kitten was not well socialized before coming to your home, they may be fearful of the home, other pets, or humans.

In this case, your kitten may need extra time to warm up to the environment. The world can seem like a big, uncertain place from the perspective of a kitten.

This is especially true if they have just been separated from their mother and littermates.

Your kitten first needs to feel safe and comfortable around you before they can play with you.


4. A Change in Routine Stresses a Kitten

Your kitten may stop playing if there is a change in environment. Perhaps you have changed your working hours, rearranged the furniture, moved to a new home, or you have brought a new pet.

Cats are very sensitive to their environment. After these changes, your kitten needs to acclimate before they can relax and be free to play again. 


5. Some Cat Breeds Are More Active Than Others

Some cat breeds have a reputation for being more active than others. For example, the Siamese, Oriental, and Abyssinian are hyper breeds. They are more likely to play a lot even when young.

More languid breeds are the Persian, Himalayan, Ragdoll, and British Shorthair. If you find your kitten doesn’t want to pay that much, it could be they are from these breeds.

However, even if your kitten is not as playful, you still can form great bonds. These reserved cat breeds make excellent lap pets, content to sit with you while you watch the TV or read a book.


6. An Overweight Kitten Is Less Active

It is understandable why you feel the need to feed your kitten. Food sustains their quick growth and high energy levels.

However, too many treats and feeding can make your kitten overweight. Therefore, for obvious reasons, they may not want to play.

An estimated 57% of U.S cats are overweight. This is mostly because they are overfed and under-exercised.

Use predatory play to get your kitten moving.

Writer: Flora Ojow

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