Kitten play is, in its most basic form, the act of roleplaying as a kitten. This is a subsection of petplay (roleplaying as a pet), which is its own subsection of the DS (Dominance/submission) part of the BDSM acronym. But what does that mean? Like many roles within the diverse world of BDSM, kitten play has almost as many expressions as there are people that indulge in it. Covering everything will be beyond the scope of this blog, but I’ll do my best to discuss the basics.
What It’s Not
Kitten play is not related to the furry fandom, though there is certainly crossover between the two worlds. The furry fandom revolves around anthropomorphic animals and individuals often create a fursona, or animal persona, that they use to represent themselves within the community. Some furries are into BDSM and some are not. Kitten play only exists within a BDSM context. The two cultures have different norms, language, and aesthetics.
Kitten play is not bestiality. The attraction to kitten play revolves around a specific dynamic and relationship style. Any pet based dynamic is about a power exchange between consenting adults. Ears and tail are added for aesthetic and to signal the role of the wearer and does not represent attraction to real animals. Bestiality is unwelcome within the BDSM community, as it does not meet the guidelines of SSC (safe, sane, consensual) or RACK (risk-aware consensual kink).
Kitten play is not therianthropy, though this is another area with some crossover. A therian has a spiritual connection to an animal, even to the point of viewing themselves as having the soul of that animal. Kitten play is exactly that – play. It has no inherent spiritual meaning, though a therian may certainly find themselves drawn towards this aspect of BDSM as part of their spiritual expression.
Kitten play is not inherently sexual. This can be confusing for those new to BDSM. Sex and BDSM certainly get along very well, but BDSM activities do not require sex. BDSM is about power exchange. Some kittens will mix sex with their play and some will not.
What It Is
The most common expression of kitten play revolves around a dominant Owner and a submissive kitten. It is the Owner’s job to care for and train their kitten and the kitten’s job to obey and please their owner. Kittens are often (though not always) more spoiled and bratty than other submissive types. They tend to be playful, mischievous, and provocative. Kitten owners should have patience and a good sense of humor!
There are varying degrees of intensity within kitten play. For some, it is an occasional game to spice things up. For others, it is a 24/7 lifestyle. Some kittens wear cat ears and get a little feisty during sex. Other kittens will crawl, utilize speech restrictions, and eat out of a pet bowl. Kitten play exists on a spectrum, and there are so many ways to explore!
While we’re here, let’s talk about kitten space! This is the term we use for a kitten that is in their kitten play headspace. This is a very vulnerable place to be, as kittens tend to be more in tune with their id. They are more primal. More instinctive. And that means they can be more sensitive, more emotional, and more open. Sharing that space with an Owner is a very intimate thing. It can be therapeutic and stress relieving. While some 24/7 kittens will maintain an aspect of kitten space in their day to day lives, deep kitten space is not meant to be maintained indefinitely. Kitten space most often occurs naturally during active play.
There are many different ways to play with a kitten. When in doubt, start with the basics: feed the kitty, pet the kitty, groom the kitty, pounce. Feed the kitty out of a pet bowl or hand feed them treats in exchange for tricks. Pet and cuddle the kitty while you watch a movie. Run a brush gently through the kitty’s hair. Get out the laser pointer, a ball with a bell inside, or a wand toy for a game of pounce. All of these activities can help reinforce a kitten’s role.
Remember how I said earlier that kitten play has almost as many expressions as there are people that indulge in it? Well let’s talk about some of that. While the above section talked a lot about common kitten play expression, there is no rule book. No One True Way. And everyone’s journey and experience is bound to be different.
Some kittens, for example, might be switches or dominants. Though kittens are traditionally submissive, how often do you hear that humans are owned by their cats? Or that cats remember being worshipped as gods (and act like it)? Yep. In some dynamics, the kitten is the one calling the shots, and their human is submissive!
Some kittens don’t want an owner at all. Not everyone interested in power exchange is looking for a full time relationship. Some kittens are more interested in casual play partners than submitting to an official Owner. I call these cats ferals. This is to contrast with a stray, who is an unowned kitten looking to be owned, and a foster, which is a term I made up to reference a stray that is currently being trained or considered.
Kitten play culture can be so diverse! At the end of it all, the most important aspect of kitten play is identity. Anyone that identifies with the lifestyle, whether as an occasional indulgence or a 24/7 commitment, should feel empowered to find their own path and their own meaning. After all, even the furry friends that we draw inspiration from come in so many shapes, colors, and personalities!
Also see our page: What is kitten play? to see how other members of the community define kitten play.