Training your kitten
Your kitten learns in two different ways: it starts by imitating its mother’s actions and learning through new experiences and positive reinforcement. While kittens are more independent than puppies, it’s important to train them to adopt the right behaviour from an early age and learn the rules of sharing a home with other people and animals.
It’s good for their physical and mental wellbeing
Building training into your kitten’s playtime helps them to make good use of all that extra energy and keeps them happy, active and healthy. Teaching your kitten new skills and helping them to hone their agility can also help to keep them mentally stimulated.
It helps kittens to learn how to behave
Many kittens bite and scratch. Play can help them to understand which behaviours are acceptable and unacceptable, before their claws and teeth are fully developed.
It makes them less anxious in new settings
From time to time, it may be necessary to clip your kitten’s claws, take them to a veterinarian or give them a pill. Training can help your kitten to adjust to these unfamiliar experiences and cope with new situations, so they stay calm and don’t react aggressively.
It makes them feel at home
Training your kitten doesn’t have to mean teaching them tricks. It could mean simply teaching them to use a litter box, use a scratching post or even come when you call their name. All of these can make your pet feel at ease in the family home.
How to train your kitten to recognize its name
- Choose a short name without too many syllables. This will make it easier for your kitten to recognize
- Call your kitten by their name for feeding or play, and repeat their name during the activity. This positive reinforcement will help your cat to recognize the name
- Try not to repeat the name when punishing your kitten as this will give the name a negative connotation
- Say your kitten’s name and then immediately give them a treat
- Or say their name and roll them a paper ball
- Kittens are often more responsive when they are hungry. So try these exercises before mealtime.
How to train your kitten to use a litter box
Most kittens learn the basics of house training by watching their mother. However, if you kitten doesn’t know how to use a litter box, it will be your job to show them what to do. House training your kitten before they get into bad habits can save them and you considerable anxiety and stress.
Separate, calm litter boxes
Place your kitten’s litter box in a quiet corner of your home. If you have other cats, make sure this box is separate.
Use the same cat litter
Remember to use the type of litter your kitten is used to. If you’re not sure, you may need to try a few different varieties.
Use after meals and sleep
Immediately after eating or sleeping, stand your kitten in the litter tray. Then, if your kitten allows you to, use one of its paws to scratch at the litter.
Pay attention to body language
Make sure that you keep an eye on your kitten at other times. If they look like they need to go, simply stand them in their litter box.
Make sure that you don't punish your kitten if they have an accident outside their litter box as this will create a negative association.
Why does my kitten not use their litter box?
There are a number of reasons why your kitten may not want to use their litter box. Here are some of the most common to watch out for:
It’s important to clean your kitten’s litter box on a daily basis, remove strong odours and add fresh cat litter
The litter box may be too small so your kitten is not comfortable using it
If the litter box is in a noisy or busy place, or too close to food and drinking bowls, your kitten may be anxious about using it
It’s important not to watch or disturb your kitten while they are in the litter box to avoid creating a negative connection
How to train a kitten to use a scratching post
Kittens instinctively like to sharpen their claws. To help them do that without causing damage to furniture, it’s a good idea to invest in a scratching post and train your kitten to use it when they first come into your home.
Attract them by smell
Your kitten has an incredibly keen sense of smell; in fact, it's up to 14 times better than humans. Spraying furniture with a citrus smell will encourage your kitten to stay away. Likewise, spraying a new scratching post with valerian or catnip will make them appear more attractive to a curious cat.
Make scratching part of playtime
Putting your kitten’s favourite toys on the scratching post, dragging a feather teaser over the surface or attaching some soft tissue will all encourage them to use their claws constructively during playtime. This will also cement the location of the scratching post in their memory.
Praise your kitten for scratching
The first time your kitten uses their claws on the scratching post, praise them and stroke them. Some impressionable kittens will associate the act of clawing with human affection and encouragement.
Why doesn’t my kitten use their scratching post?
Socialization should start as early as possible to avoid any unwanted behaviours and help them develop into confident, even-tempered adult cats. Find out how you can socialize your kitten.Socializing your kitten
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