Tuesday, October 4, 2016

3 ways to help your adult cat live with a punky kitten

Fergus the kitten on the couch

Sweet kittens like Fergus are impossible for humans to resist. We love the way these little baby cats leap, jump and hiss in play. We love to see them run through the house at top speed. We love how they turn everything--even lint--into a toy that can be a source of amusement for hours. We adore them.

But often, there's someone in the house who doesn't love all of this stuff. That's right: Many adult cats find all of this hooey a little too much to take. And they can resort to hiding, just to stay away from the terrors that have taken over their homes.

Thankfully, this is a problem that tends to be temporary. But there are plenty of things you can do to help your senior cats survive the nasty kitten stage. Here are my top 3 tips:

1. Assess your adults for kitten friendliness. 

Some adult cats simply cannot tolerate the presence of small kittens. These adults might have aches and pains due to other illnesses, they might be on the shy side or they might just be big fans of sleep. Cats like this are likely to give your kittens a beat down for doing really simple things like eating. And they might go into full-fledged fury when the kittens try to engage in play.

Popoki the cat with her big gold eyes

Popoki is very much in this camp. She is terrified of all other cats, and just seeing Fergus begin to walk close to her is enough to make her scream. So, she is living in my writing studio for now. She has her catio, four comfy beds, plenty of food and dog and human company for hours every single day (yes, I work a lot).

If your adult cats simply can't hack a kitten, setting the adult or the kitten up in a private apartment is one way to ensure that you keep the peace.

2. Invest in cat levels. 

Adults that do have some interest in living with kittens can be targets of endless opportunities to play. And sometimes, that play can get a little rough. Thankfully, many kittens just aren't that agile, especially vertically, which means adults can leap up to get away. Using scratching posts and beds, and clearing everything off windowsills and prominent shelving, can let your adults move away from a kitten when they want to do so.

Maggie the cat in the windowsill

Maggie likes this approach quite a lot. She is the only cat of the indoor crew that chooses to live with Fergus around the clock (Lucy has only periodic visitations before she gets mad), and when Maggie has had enough of him, she leaps up into high spaces that he is unable to reach. When she feels like engaging once more, she gets back down into the field of play.

3. Humans play with kittens, too

Taking home a kitten shouldn't mean forcing your existing cats to do all the work. You can do a lot to pick up the slack and keep your kittens from tormenting the adults. And that means you must engage the wee kitten in playtime yourself.

Fergus the kitten looks regal

I use a wand toy with Fergus for about 30 minutes, two times per day. He leaps and runs and dives for that toy, and when the play session is done, he curls up in his bed for a long and torment-free nap. Maggie (and sometimes Lucy) will join in on these play sessions from time to time. That means Fergus learns how to play ALONG with his sisters instead of playing WITH their bodies, and that's a good lesson for him to learn.

I will miss the crazy kitten stage, as it only comes once. But by following these steps, I can ensure that Fergus actually survives kittenhood unscathed!

Did I miss any favorite tips you use to handle kittenhood? I'd love to see your thoughts in the comments. Let me know!


  1. great advice. we always suggest play to keep wild kittens tired out.