Training your kitten
It’s often assumed that cats are too fiercely independent to be trained, but they can be taught a variety of behaviours from a young age.
If you start training your kitten as soon as you get them home, you can help to shape the personality you want them to have as an adult. Here are a few ways to get started.
Litter train your kitten
Cats prefer to go to the toilet outside, but when you’ve just brought your kitten home, you’ll need to train them how to use their litter tray.
The most common times cats relieve themselves are after eating or taking a nap. If you sense your cat needs to go, lift them into the tray rather than just pointing them to it. Keep doing this until your kitten can find the litter tray for themselves by smell and location.
Make sure the tray is in a place where your cat feels comfortable – but to prevent them from getting confused, and for hygiene reasons, keep where they eat and where they use the litter tray separate from each other.
Teach your kitten social skills
Kittens are most open to new experiences and changes in their environment between the ages of three and seven weeks. After that, they become more cautious and timid.
Try these three tips to help develop their confidence and social skills:
1. Invite a mix of family and friends to your home to help your kitten get used to all types of people, including children. Just make sure the kids aren’t too loud, as high-pitched noises will make a cat nervous. Ensure the cat’s fur is not pulled by a baby or young child, as this will hurt them and may cause them to lash out with their claws.
2. Introduce your kitten to a well-trained dog that won’t get overly excited about meeting a cat.
3. Take your kitten for short rides in your car to get them used to road journeys from an early age. Reward them with a treat when you arrive at your destination, so they associate travelling with something positive.
Train your kitten to play with toys
Playing with your new pet is an excellent way to bond with them and use up some of their excess energy.
If you stroke and tickle your cat with your bare hands, they might think it’s acceptable to sink their teeth and claws into your skin, so instead use toys to interact with your cat.
You could even try to teach them a few tricks. A feather on a string, jingle ball or catnip toy will give them hours (or at least minutes) of fun.
There are plenty of experts specialising in pet behaviour available to talk to if you’re having trouble training your pet in any way – so don’t hesitate to contact one, or even the local vet, if you have any questions about your new kitten.
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