Rough and Tumble
Who doesn't love kittens? At the cat rescue, it's easy to play with them for hours. They're lively, rambunctious and adorable. But I always have to remind the new volunteers—it's part of my duties to train them in how to care for the cats—to play gently and not roughhouse with them. Kittens are impressionable little creatures and rough play brings out their aggressive instincts, which get stronger as they mature. I've seen this happen before my eyes. One minute an adorable kitten is enjoying a scratch on the head, the next she's raking up your arm and gnawing on your hand!
One pet parent, who had recently adopted Buster, an eight-month-old orange Tabby, wanted to return him to the rescue. She claimed he would bite and scratch. This was unthinkable to me: the Buster I knew was a gentle love bug. When I questioned her, I learned her teenage son would play roughly with him. So while the two were "having fun" the son was turning Buster into a snarly cat. As pet parents, it's our responsibility to model good behavior with kittens, since our actions can have a lasting effect.