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Maine coon kitten black and white

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.

Kitten sitting on a cat tree

Why train your kitten?

Your kitten learns in two different ways: it starts by imitating its mother’s actions, and learning by itself through experimenting. While kittens are more independent than puppies, it’s important to train your kitten to adopt the right behaviour from an early age and teach them 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.

Maine Coon kitten sitting outside on a wooden table

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.

Grey tabby kitten sat indoors next to a grey sofa

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 the vet or give them a tablet. 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.

Two kittens running outside on grass

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 tray, 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.

Grey tabby kitten lying down on a white sheet

How to train your kitten to recognise its name

Teaching your kitten to respond when you call their name is simpler than it sounds. These simple tips should prove useful.
Maine Coon kitten sitting indoors on a cat tree

  • Choose a short name without too many syllables. This will make it easier for your kitten to recognise
  • 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 recognise 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.
Grey and white kitten standing in a litter tray

How to train your kitten to use a litter tray

Most kittens learn the basics of toilet 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. Toilet 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.

British Shorthair kitten standing in a litter tray

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.

Kitten lying on a grey rug

Pay attention to body language

Make sure 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.


Avoid punishments

Be sure not to punish your kitten if they have an accident outside of 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 might 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 and 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

Bad experience

It’s important not to watch or disturb your kitten while they are in the litter box to avoid creating a negative connection

Small kitten climbing on a cat tree

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 on how to use it, when they first come into your home.


Attract them by smell

Your kitten has an incredibly keen sense of smell – 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.

Small kitten playing with a cat tree indoors

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 root the location of the scratching post in their memory.

Bengal kitten sitting in a cat tree

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.

Bengal kitten in a cat bed being stroked by owner
Tabby kitten lying down in a cat tree

Why doesn’t my kitten use their scratching post?

Every kitten is different. So, if your pet is not using their scratching post, it could be because it's in the wrong location, or perhaps it doesn’t look or smell right.
The scratching post should always be placed where your kitten spends most of its time. You should also make a note of how your kitten likes to sharpen its claws off the post. Does it stretch up on its back legs? Or stretch out on the floor? This action could help you to choose a tall scratching tower or a long scratching matt to match.
Sacred Birman kittens and mother black and white

Kitten socialisation

Socialisation 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 socialise your kitten.

 Pack shot of kitten products

Tailored nutrition for kittens

ROYAL CANIN® kitten nutrition supports growth and development by providing all the nutrients essential to a kitten's needs in the first year of life.