Few things are quite as entertaining as watching a pint-size kitten play with anything that crosses his path. Kittens are curious from the get-go, but it takes several weeks for his motor skills to fully develop. By the time he is ready to leave his littermates, he'll be entirely playful.
First Weeks of Life
Newborn kittens don't play right off the bat, but their little personalities will soon erupt. Kittens are born with their eyes closed and they remain closed for up to two weeks or possibly longer, according to the Feline Advisory Bureau. Because they can't walk right away, they'll scoot or waddle, much like a toddler moves around. Kittens do interact with their littermates early on, since they are all competing for the primo spot on mom when feeding time comes around. However, they aren't quite playful yet. Right around three weeks of age kittens start walking around, although they're quite clumsy. You'll notice their individual personalities kick around five weeks of age when they start running and mimicking their mama's behaviors.
Peak of Playfulness
By about seven weeks of age, kittens act more like adults -- or at least pretend to. Their playful peak lasts from weeks seven to 14, explains Dr. Virginia Clemans, a veterinarian based out of Salt Lake City, Utah. These teeny furballs will bat around at each other, pounce on one another's tails and drive mama kitty nuts. They'll also respond to moving balls, swaying feathers and toy mice. Sometimes playfulness enhances with catnip, although not all kitties respond to it. Get your furry friends a batch of catnip-filled toys or sprinkle dried catnip on the toys they have for extra entertainment.
While little Tiger is busy running around and playing up a storm by two months, he'll be a little wobbly. He might fall over while chasing his tail, go over the edge of the sofa or run face first into the wall. It takes several weeks for kittens to fully develop all of their complex motor skills. Being able to fully balance on ledges or fences might not happen until 10 or 11 weeks of age. Because infant kitties have butterfingers in the beginning, don't allow him to climb on top of furniture. His growing body is fragile and if he has a big fall, he can damage or possibly break one of his legs.
Importance of Socialization
Even though kittens aren't quite playful during the first month or so, you'll still need to interact with them. Socializing kittens with humans between two and seven weeks of age gets baby felines used to being handled and teaches them to enjoy the companionship of people, reports the ASPCA. While interactive feather toys may not intrigue him when he's too young, you should still pick him up, scratch his belly and talk to him. When it comes time for him to play, he'll be familiar with you and you'll be his first play target.
Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.
Melodie Anne Coffman specializes in overall wellness, with particular interests in women's health and personal defense. She holds a master's degree in food science and human nutrition and is a certified instructor through the NRA. Coffman is pursuing her personal trainer certification in 2015.