Kittens are fun and playful when growing up. When kittens play, they learn skills that will help them survive in their environment and at home. In the end, the inevitable happens, and they grow up to be cats.
As cats grow older, they tend to slow down and become less playful. Like humans, cats age and undergo changes during different life stages. As a result, cats’ habits change and their priorities change depending upon the surrounding environment.
We often think of how cute cats are when they play. One thing that people forget is that it’s important that cats play.
It’s a vital part of their life and develops the skills they’ll need as they mature. Recognizing a cat’s behavior as they play is a great tool for knowing your cat.
But will a cat always be playful?
Our own cats are 5 years old at the time of writing this article and are still as playful as they’ve always been.
However, we expect them to become less playful as time goes on.
We discuss the stages of a cats life in more detail below and how playful you can expect your cat to be at each stage.
It’s important to know the role of play to a cat, especially in the younger stages of life.
There are skills that they obtain that help them not only survive but also help them adapt to your family.
There are some different areas to a cat’s play life:
- Predatory play
- Locomotory play
- Object play
The different types of play your cat engages in will differ depending on the age of your cat. Your cat is a hunter: this is a primal instinct.
When your cat gets a little more mature, you will notice it starting to develop some of these traits. Stalking and hiding are common. Pouncing on a toy or litter mate.
Predatory play is where the kitten is learning skills that are required in hunting as they grow older.
You’ll see this sort of play almost immediately with the mother and other kittens in the litter. Behavior such as stalking, chasing, and pouncing will be observed.
Locomotory play is the motor skills that a cat develops for hunting as well. This includes things like the agility and balance of that cat.
The locomotory skills of the cat are fully developed in the first 3 months of the cat’s life.
Object play is when the cat is playing with different objects that it finds in its environment. This type of play also develops hunting skills. The type of behavior observed may range from batting a ball around, clawing at a toy, or chasing objects that are moving.
Not all skills that are developed during play with your cat are based around hunting.
There are other skills that are required for your cat to survive as it matures that help it in relationship with other members of its family.
Other skills developed in the play life of a cat helps in the relational aspect of its life.
Removing a kitten too early from its mother and litter can be detrimental to the cat as it grows older. These skills, while instinctive, can also be nurtured and trained to help develop better habits that meet our preferences.
Cats, like children, are like a sponge when they are young, and it is also a great time to help them develop skills and habits that you would like to see them have in your house as they grow in maturity.
Other developed play skills are socialization and communication.
The social aspect of cat play usually starts developing from the moment when they are born. This involves the mom, and the rest of the litter.
This is also a good opportunity to expose a kitten to other family pets and children as this will help the kitten to become comfortable with the surroundings and relationships that it will have in your home.
Your cat communicates with just about every relationship it has. You have heard that 90% of communication is nonverbal and that goes for your cat as well.
It will learn to tell you it is hungry, or that it needs some attention, and when you see those eyes get dilated, you know that you are probably going to get pounced on.
Often, we take our cats for granted, and we forget that they have different stages in life, just as humans do. We can easily forget that our cat might be transitioning to a stage which might bring along some unique behaviors as they grow into that stage in life.
It’s important to recognize the stages of life your cat may be going through so that you can give it the proper care that it needs.
The stage of maturity will bring some new habits, learning, and adventure for both you and your feline family member.
There are four maturity stages of cat’s life you should know about:
Knowing each stage will help you identify the different behaviors that your cat is engaging in.
There are noticeable patterns of behavior for each stage, so if you can spot them, you can deduce what stage of life your cat is in without knowing the exact age of your cat.
The kitten stage is between 0 and 6 months in age.
This is also when a kitten is learning and soaking in everything that it can. It sets up their social abilities, hunting, and communication.
This stage is also the best time to try to train particular skills and habits you would like to see in your cat in the future as it grows older.
The Junior age range is generally between 6 months and 2 years of age.
The junior stage is where your cat’s play habits will change from being more inquisitive and explorative and start developing more carnal skills needed for survival, such as stalking and hunting.
It’s important to know that the cat in this stage in its life is also entering sexual maturity, so if your cat is getting a bit frisky, this may be why.
This is when your cat is between 3 and 6 years of age.
Like a growing teenager, your cat is at that stage in life where it has experienced some things, it has learned, and it has started figuring out life a bit, and has a good mix of playful activity and the lounging around that we all wish we could do so easily like a cat.
At 7 and 10 years of age, your cat has now reached the mature stage.
You might notice that it’s not quite as playful, which has been replaced with quite a few more naps. Your cat has put its life in order, with established routines that give your cat a sense of security.
The cat is familiar with the environment in which it lives, and it is comfortable with its family and home. As your cat slows down, it is important to think about its eating habits and metabolism.
From 11 to 14 years of age, your cat has hit the senior portion of its life.
Life for your cat is a lot slower now, and it may be having some issues with mobility, probably not as limber as it once was in its youth. It is important to keep up the visits to the veterinarian’s office, as you want your cat to live as comfortably as possible.
Although we love the playfulness of our cats when they are younger, life and its cycles are inevitable. Cats, like humans, grow older and slow down.
It does not mean they will not play at all, but it just means those spurts will be less, and play time may not last as long.
As your cat gets older, you want to recognize that they are not as playful as they once were, and have just developed into a more mature feline that has gained some wisdom in life.