Training Your Kitten – Tips and Advice
By Shari Hearn
They’re cute, they’re loveable, and they can tear up your favorite chair before you can say, “bad cat!”
Well, of course I’m talking about America’s favorite pet – the cat. (I know, some of you think the dog is America’s favorite pet. But, us cat lovers know better.) But, as most people who have cats (particularly indoor cats) also know, these adorable creatures can make messes outside their boxes and tear up furniture if not properly trained. And the best time to do the training is when the cat is young.
Since there is no such thing as a “kittygarten,” it’s up to you make sure your kitten learns the rules of the house. And quick. Don’t let the kitten develop bad habits that will come to haunt you later. For example, while it might be cute when Kitty manages to climb up to your dining room table during dinnertime, it’s not so cute three years later and your cat is still interrupting your mealtime. The best time to put a stop to unwanted behavior is now.
Here are some tips that can help you train your kitten at home:
1. Kittens need exercise. If this is not done in the form of toys for Kitty to play with, Kitty will become restless and could do damage to you or your home. Make sure Kitty has plenty of his or her own toys to bite and kick and chase after. Notice I said “his or her own toys.” Toys do not include your body parts. Never let the kitten use your arm or feet as toys to bite. Again, it’s cute when they’re kittens, but when the 3-year-old cat attacks your bare feet because you made it think your feet are toys, it’s no longer cute. It’s painful.
2. Since kittens are not yet toilet trained, it’s best to start by teaching it what to do with a litter box. The litter box should be big enough for Kitty to enter and move around. If you adopted your kitten from the Humane Society or rescue group, chances are Kitty has been around a cat box. But, in case your new kitten has never been introduced to a litter box, you will have to make the introductions.
Cats usually do their business after a meal or a nap. So, after Kitty finishes her meal is finished, play with her for about10-15 minutes, somewhere near the litter box. Lead her to the box. Move the litter around with your hand to intrigue Kitty with the texture of the litter, inviting her to step into it. Encourage Kitty once she steps inside, speaking to her in gentle tones. Make Kitty feel that the box is a nice and comfortable place. Whether she soils in the box or not, be consistent with that tone. Eventually, she will like the litter box and do her business there. Finally, be consistent and patient. Results may not come right away, but the training will pay off in time.
3. The claws of kittens are not that sharp yet compared to older cats, so right now Kitty isn’t too dangerous around the furniture. But, kittens grow up soon, and it’s best to teach them that a scratching post is where they should sharpen their claws, and not on your favorite chair. You might want to sprinkle some catnip on the scratching post to get Kitty interested. When you see Kitty sharpen her claws on the scratching post, be sure to praise her, or offer her a treat.
Praising the kitten for doing a good job and feeding it as a reward will help in teaching the kitten how to behave inside the house. It’s obvious to most of us, but it should be said – never shout at or hit your kitten.
Kittens are loveable animals and by spending some time daily with them, you’ll end up with a loveable, house-trained cat.
Shari Hearn is a writer, cat lover and owner of http://www.cattraining411.com
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