Training Kittens

Contrary to popular opinion, it's possible to teach kittens some useful skills, such as recognizing their name. The earlier you start training, the greater the chance of success.

Begin training your kitten early

Begin training kittens as soon as possible by introducing them to new experiences while they're still young enough to take everything in their stride. This means in the future, they will be able to approach new situations fearlessly.

Remember, whenever kittens encounter something new, act confidently as if there is nothing to worry about. Smothering them or reassuring them constantly will only reinforce their fears. They might also learn that they get lots of attention when feigning a frightened response! A calm, matter-of-fact attitude works best.

Name familiarity

Repeatedly say your kitten's name during enjoyable experiences, for example, when she's eating or when you're petting her. Never shout your kitten’s name if you're angry. It's important for cats to associate their name with good things. For instance, if you have an outdoor cat, you want her to come running as soon as you call.

Scratching post

Teach kittens where they should scratch so they don't use your furniture instead! Show your kitten her scratching post and dangle a toy along it, encouraging her to play. If necessary, lift your kitten's forepaws gently and make downwards scratching motions on the post. Your kitten should soon come to do this alone. Putting some catnip on the post may also encourage them to scratch. The more kittens scratch, the more likely they are to scratch again in the future, as the post will smell of their scent.

Litter training

Using a litter tray is against your cat’s instincts. Don't give kittens any reason to avoid using the litter box. Keep the box clean and place it in a convenient location. Most kittens are generally litter-trained from an early age as they copy their mothers’ habits. Choose a litter box that is easy for kittens to use. If necessary, improvise for the first few weeks with a shallow, disposable container. Keep the litter tray away from your cat's food in an easily accessible but private area. Avoid damp, dark, inconvenient, or noisy areas. Choose a litter tray that is deep enough to keep kittens from scattering litter when they dig. It should also be large enough so a cat can make a complete turn. Remove soiled litter at least daily. Empty the tray completely and wash it with hot water and detergent every week. Avoid disinfectants as some are toxic to pets.

Dos and don'ts

Do be patient when training kittens; they have a lot to learn. Do focus on rewarding good behavior and let less welcome behavior disappear by itself. Never hit your kitten. Instead, interrupt annoying behavior with a firm "No!" before directing your kitten to an appropriate activity.

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