OBJECT OF EXPLODING KITTENS: The object of Exploding Kittens is to be the last player remaining.

NUMBER OF PLAYERS: 2 to 5 players

MATERIALS: One rule book, a deck of 56 cards, and a flat surface.

TYPE OF GAME: Party Card Game

AUDIENCE: 7+ (unless using NSFW pack, then 18+)


Exploding Kittens Original Edition - Hilarious...
  • HOURS OF HILARITY: There’ll be lots of chuckling. Rib-cracking outbursts. More...
  • EXPAND THE SMILES: This Original version is a recipe for hours of fun. But those...

Exploding Kittens is an exciting party card game that 2 to 5 players can play. During the game, players take turns drawing cards and building a deck while simultaneously avoiding an “Exploding Kitten” card. The objective of the game is to be the last player not eliminated.

Players will take turns playing cards and drawing a new card each turn, hoping not to draw an “Exploding Kitten”. If you draw an exploding kitten and cannot defuse it, you “blow up” and are out of the game! 

Exploding Kittens is loads of fun and super simple, making it a versatile game for a family game night or with a few friends! Let’s dive into the rules for Exploding Kittens — one of our favorite card games!


Setting up a game of Exploding Kittens isn’t overly complicated, but you’ll want to make sure you do it correctly for the game to run smoothly.


The first thing you need to do when setting up the deck to play Exploding Kittens is to take out all of the “Exploding Kitten” cards and defuses. 


Then, the dealer gives each player one defuse card. If you are playing with 4 or 5 players, shuffle the remainder of the defuse cards into the deck (for two or three-player games, only put two defuse cards in the deck, and discard the rest from the game). 


Once the deck is set up, one player should shuffle the deck and deal each player 6 more cards, to make a hand of 7 total cards.


The final step to setting up an Exploding Kittens game is to add the “Exploding Kittens”. You should always add one fewer Exploding Kitten card to the deck than there are players. For example, if there are four players, add three Exploding Kittens. If there are five players, add four Exploding Kittens. Then, of course, shuffle the deck once again!


exploding kittens

Once the game is set up, you can begin playing Exploding Kittens. Choose one player to start, and then the rotation of the play moves clockwise.

Players start their turn by either playing a card (or cards) from their hand or passing. While you can play as few or as many cards in a single turn as you want, you must always draw a card to end your turn. The only way you can avoid drawing a card is by playing a “Skip” or an “Attack” card. 

If you draw a normal card (anything besides an Exploding Kitten), you add the card to your hand, and your turn is over. 


If you draw an Exploding Kitten, one of two things can happen:

  1. You play a defuse card (if you have one). You will lose the defuse, but you will not be eliminated from the game.
  2.  If you don’t have a defuse card, you are eliminated from the game. Better luck next time!

When you defuse an Exploding Kitten card, you must take the card and place it back in the deck. You can choose to do this secretly, behind your back or under the table, or you can be transparent and show all players where you put the Exploding Kitten. Some players will deliberately target a player when they put the Exploding Kitten back in the deck, while others put the card back at random.

If an Exploding Kitten has been detonated and a player has lost, it is no longer in play and must stay in the discard pile.


When learning the rules for Exploding Kittens, it is important to understand the significance of each card in the deck. Here is a breakdown of what each card in an Exploding Kittens game is used for.

  • Exploding Kitten: If you draw this card, you will “blow up” and be eliminated from the game unless you have a defuse card in your hand.
  • Defuse: Defuses are the most valuable card in Exploding Kittens. You use these cards to prevent an “Exploding Kitten” from blowing up. Generally, the player that collects the most defuses wins the game.
  • Skip: A “Skip” card is just what it sounds like. When you play a “Skip”, you get to skip your turn and do not have to draw a card.
  • Attack: Like a “Skip”, an “Attack” card allows you to skip your turn, but you also force the next player to draw two cards. The next player can then play another attack, and the next player in line will then have to draw four cards. If you have been attacked, you draw each card one at a time. If you draw an Exploding Kitten at any point, you stop drawing cards and either defuse the Exploding Kitten or get eliminated.
  • See the Future: One of the most useful cards in Exploding Kittens is “See the Future”. This card allows you to take a peek at the top three cards in the deck and then make your next moves accordingly. So, if you have a “See the Future” card and a “Skip”, you can look at the top three cards first and then decide if you want to skip your turn or not.
  • Shuffle: When you play a “Shuffle” card, you can shuffle the deck. There aren’t any rules stating how “well” you must shuffle the deck. So, in theory, you could just move the top card to the bottom and then draw!
  • Favor: Players can play a “Favor” card and ask any opponent to give them a card. The opponent then must give the player any card they want to give them.
  • Nope: You can play a “Nope” on any action (besides an Exploding Kitten), and it essentially cancels out the action. For example, if a player plays a “Skip”, you can play a “Nope”, and they cannot skip their turn. Remember, if you play a “Nope,” another player can “Nope” your “Nope,” thereby canceling out the original “Nope”. “Nope” cards are only effective if you play them before the action occurs. For example, you cannot play a “Nope” if a player has already started shuffling the deck.
  • Cat Card: A “Cat” card is useless on its own, but it can be super handy when you collect multiple of the same type. There are several different types of Cat” cards in an Exploding Kittens deck. If you play two of the same type of “Cat” card (for example, a “Beard Cat”, you get to steal a card from an opponent by grabbing a card at random from their hand. If you play three of the same “Cat” card, you can ask an opponent for a specific card (including a “Defuse”). If the player has this card, they must give it to you, if they do not have it, you are out of luck and get nothing. That said, players can also use a “Nope” card to decline this request, so it is a bit risky to ask for a specific card as you may be wasting three “Cat” cards.


One of the game-changing rules of Exploding Kittens is that if you can play five unique cards, you can grab any card you want from the discard pile. Each of the five cards MUST be unique, but otherwise, they can be any combination of cards, not just “Cat” cards.


Winning a game of Exploding Kittens is simple. The last player standing wins! Once the final “Exploding Kitten” card is drawn by a player without a “Defuse”, the remaining player wins the game!

You can find our list of other exciting kid-friendly card games here!


Exploding Kittens has literally “exploded” in popularity since it was originally released in 2015, quickly going from being a niche party game to a household classic! If you don’t already have this game in your board game cabinet, it is definitely time to get your hands on it!

If you are looking for another fun party game by the creators of Exploding Kittens, check out Throw Throw Burrito.

Amber Crook
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