I just found a new home with some human who thought I was “cute.” I have all sorts of nice stuff here—good food, a scratching post, some mouse toys—but I think there’s something wrong with my new human. She doesn’t know how to play. She watches me bat at the mice toys and run around the house, but she won’t join in the fun. She obviously enjoys watching me play, so I’m sure she would like it if she tried. What can I do to make her more playful? I’m only 3 months old, and I don’t want to be stuck with a lump of a human for the rest of my life!
Playful but Perturbed
Sometimes you have to feel sorry for humans. The things that come naturally to anyone else, like playing and having fun, seem to be foreign to so many of them. It’s really pitiful. I bet your human is one of those people who disappears every day for hours and looks really tired and annoyed when she comes home. This place that occupies so much of a human’s time is called a “job,” and I think it’s one of the things that destroys the play instinct. But that’s something for the researchers to look into. Let’s try to figure out how to revive the play instinct in your particular human.
You have one distinct thing to your advantage—you are still a kitten, and kittens can do things that humans would not appreciate coming from older cats. Like hiding just behind a doorway and attacking your human’s ankle as she walks past. Or pretending her shoelaces are snakes and trying to capture them. If your human starts to get annoyed at any of these tricks, arch your back and jump sideways a few times—that nearly always breaks up a tense moment. The one trick that apparently doesn’t work is attacking humans’ faces while they’re still asleep in bed. Binga says she used to do that to the humans here and it did not go over at all. For some reason, climbing up pants legs doesn’t amuse them either, so skip that one too. But generally, humans really like to please you and they can be manipulated. If they see that you think something is fun, they will often go along with it. For example, I’ve taught my human to throw my toys so I can chase after them. I don’t even have to bring them back—she goes and gets them herself and then throws them again. How cool is that! She just happened to throw one of the toys one day and when she saw me chase after it, she started doing it again and again. So just include your human in several different play activities and reward her when she responds by showing how much you enjoy it. That almost always guarantees a repeat performance. (Now you cats know why only we’re the only ones who are allowed to read these advice columns!) Maybe if you really inspire her, she will go out and get some interactive cat toys that you can play with together. This is what she should have done in the first place.