How to handle a kitten

How to handle a kitten

Kittens love to play, but when they become overexcited they often scratch and bite. This behavior is natural to kittens and is not a sign of hostility or fear (most of the time), but if left unchecked, it can become a serious problem. This is especially true when your kitten's playmate is a young child. Fortunately, in most cases, it's fairly easy to train kittens and avert this behavior.

Why Do Kittens Scratch and Bite?

In most cases, kittens scratch and bite in play. This is how they learn to socialize with their siblings, test boundaries, and just have fun. Occasionally though, scratching and biting can be a sign that your kitten is frightened, angry, or in pain. To be sure this is not the case:

  • If someone other than yourself is complaining about the kitten's behavior, watch to see the interaction between that person and the kitten. Some young children are not yet able to understand that they can hurt a pet and may be inadvertently playing too roughly with the kitten.
  • Avoid touching your kitten's face, paws, and stomach. While some kittens are comfortable with being touched on any part of the body, others are protective of these sensitive spots.
  • Examine your kitten gently by petting it all over. If it consistently responds negatively to a gentle touch in a certain location, there's a good chance it's hurting. If that's the case, a trip to the vet is in order.
  • Be sure that your kitten's behavior is not related to something that it finds frightening. For example, is it scratching only in certain locations in the home, with certain people, or around certain animals? If that's the case, you may wish to investigate the possibility of fear.
  • When in doubt of the cause of your kitten's biting and scratching, make an appointment with your veterinarian.

How to Stop Scratching and Biting

When kittens scratch and bite, it's likely that they've been encouraged to do so at some point in the past. This is especially common if you or your children thought the behavior was cute when the kitten was very small. It is very important that you do not "roughhouse" with your kitten and allows them to bite or scratch at any age. This teaches the cat that hands are toys, a lesson that will be harder to break later on. Try substituting cat toys for your fingers when you're playing and save your fingers for gentle petting. Make sure all family members (and visitors) are aware of these guidelines so the cat will receive a consistent message.

You've checked and are sure your kitten's biting and scratching is not a sign of any physical problem, you've minimized rough-housing with your bare hands, but you're still winding up with kitten scratches and nips. Here are some tips for managing the problem and training your kitten to stop this behavior.

How to handle a kitten

Trim the Claws

Claw trimming, unlike declawing, does not injure your cat and should be done regularly. Do not use scissors; instead, purchase a clipper designed for cats or use sharp, human nail clippers. Your vet can show you the proper length and trimming technique.

Yell "Ouch"

Say "Ouch" loudly and clearly. While you have your cat's attention, slowly remove your hand from its clutches. Don't yank it away or the kitten will think the play is on, and they will try to grab it again. Instead, gently pull your hand out of your cat's reach.

Give the Kitten a "Time-Out"

You can either leave the room or take your kitten to a small quiet room and leave it there with the door closed. Your feline may just be overstimulated and in need of some quiet recovery. Open the door after 15 minutes. If the kitten is asleep, which is often the case, leave it alone for a while. If it is awake, the cat may be needing some loving attention. Forget the play for now: just pet your kitten and tell him or her how loved it is.

Redirect the Kitten's Attention

Often playful biting of hands or feet occurs simply because your cat is bored, and is looking for a play object. Give your kitten 15 minutes of active play several times a day with an interactive toy. Da Bird or other teaser toys are a great choice. Alternatively, try a laser-beam type toy that kittens can chase and pounce on, or even commercially available “gloves” with very long dangling “fingers.” Once you’ve taught both yourself and your cat that hands are not toys, your play sessions should be more enjoyable for both of you.

In addition to the active play, a scratching post (or two) are a positive addition to your home. To the kitten, these are now places where scratching is encouraged. Try both horizontal and vertical posts and ones with different textures to find the type your kitten likes best.

How to handle a kitten

Next Steps

If you and your family have remained consistent and tried these techniques and your kitten is still scratching or biting, it is time to speak with a vet or get the help of a feline behavior specialist. These experts can often come to your home, see how the situation is manifesting, and offer concrete tips and solutions for your specific cat, situation, and lifestyle.

This article was co-authored by Pippa Elliott, MRCVS. Dr. Elliott, BVMS, MRCVS is a veterinarian with over 30 years of experience in veterinary surgery and companion animal practice. She graduated from the University of Glasgow in 1987 with a degree in veterinary medicine and surgery. She has worked at the same animal clinic in her hometown for over 20 years.

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Just like humans, cats have different forms and occasions for aggression. It is usually possible to manage your cats aggression and even resolve it. Most situations involving cat aggression are entirely manageable and result from fear, anxiety, lack of socialization or previously traumatic life experiences. The cat deserves our patience and understanding in order to improve its behavior. However, if a cat is habitually aggressive you may need to think about rehoming to a farm where its behavior can be redirected into hunting. For your safety, and the safety of those who come into contact with your cat, it is necessary to understand and manage your pet’s behavior.

Like humans, each cat has a unique personality. Some crave lots of affection and love to be held and cuddled, while others are more independent and don’t enjoy much handling. Kids love pets and, of course, are usually eager to shower them with love and cuddles. It’s essential that we educate children of all ages on proper cat-handling techniques. This will help the bonding process, as well as ensure safety for both the cat and child.

My kids grew up with cats so they had to learn how to properly interact with them at an early age. There were some ups and downs during this process, but eventually they learned that gentle behavior meant the cats wanted to spend more time with them.

Here are six tips to help teach children proper cat-handling.

1. Set the mood

Cats are excellent mood readers and pick up a lot about us by our voices, actions and general vibes. When we are stressed, they sense it. If a child wishes to connect with a cat, it’s important that she approach him in a relaxed manner, using a calm voice tone. Younger kids can be energetic and loud, which scares cats. On that same note, teach children they should never chase kitty. This “game” only teaches the cat to fear the child. My daughter was very calm as a young child and my son was a little more rambunctious, but in time, the cats wound up feeling comfortable with both of them.

How to handle a kitten

2. Take time to become acquainted

Cats feel more comfortable when we greet them on their level. Encourage the child to lie on the floor and slowly offer the cat her hand so he can smell her. Kitty may positively respond by rubbing his face on her hand or pressing his head against her hand, encouraging her to pet him. This is a good sign! If he acts apprehensively, be patient. Forcing affection on a act who doesn’t want it will only push the bonding process in the wrong direction.

3. Gently pet kitty’s back, shoulder to tail

If the cat is responsive to the child’s touch, it’s usually safe to pet him gently from the shoulder to the tail. This is not the time to try and rub the cat’s belly. Some cats enjoy tummy rubs, but many do not, and it’s definitely not a great way to make initial contact with a cat. Over time, if you discover the cat enjoys pets to the belly, go for it. One of our cats loves it, while the other two will bunny kick your face off if your hand lands anywhere near the gut. Again, honor the cat’s individual personality and preferences.

4. Use caution with picking up kitty

If the cat has shows signs of warming up to the child — and you know kitty likes to be held — you may choose to take cat-handling to the next level. Also remember that, along with respecting the cat’s personality, make choices based on the child’s personality, age and demeanor. You know what you can probably expect from your child, and if you believe the cat may not be safe in your child’s arms, don’t place him there.

Older children or ones who’ve demonstrated they can responsibly hold a cat may next learn how to properly pick up kitty. Cats like to feel stable and secure, so it’s imperative to pick them up correctly. Make sure kitty is relaxed — picking up an agitated cat could mean scratches and tears. Always use both hands: Press one hand flat against kitty’s chest and use the other to support the hindquarters. Hold the cat securely — but not too tightly — against your chest so he feels safe and comfortable.

Do not cradle a cat like a human baby. A few cats enjoy being held that way (one of mine loves it), but most do not. The cat feels unstable and his paws and face are perfectly positioned for scratches and bites. Don’t try this position until the child and cat feel completely comfortable together and you are absolutely certain kitty enjoys this position.

5. Sit or stand

Especially at first, children should sit or stand while holding a cat. Motion may spook a cat who is just becoming accustomed to this up close and personal relationship with a small human. Younger children also may have the tendency to take off running, which will definitely make kitty feel scared and unsafe.

Do you have tips for teaching kids proper cat-handling? Tell us about them in the comments!

About the Author: Angie Bailey is a goofy girl with freckles and giant smile who wants everyone to be her friend. Loves pre-adolescent boy humor, puns, making up parody songs, and thinking about cats doing people things. Writes Catladyland, a cat humor blog, and authored whiskerslist: the kitty classifieds, a silly book about cats wheeling and dealing online. Partner in a production company and writes and acts in comedy web series that may or may not offend people. Mother to two humans and three cats, all of which want her to make them food.

Feline aggression is a very common cat behavior issue seen by animal behaviorists, second only to litter box problems. While an aggressive kitten might seem less harmful than an aggressive adult cat, aggression isn’t something to take lightly. You will want to understand what is triggering your kitten’s aggression and work to diffuse and prevent this behavior.

Aggression is complicated and refers to a variety of behaviors that are triggered for different reasons under diverse circumstances. Feline aggression is threatening behavior towards another cat, human or other animals. This behavior can range from cats who hiss and avoid the target of their hostility to cats who full on attack their target. For this reason, you will want to understand your kitten’s body language and be on the lookout for the tell tale signs of the buildup of aggression in your kitten.

What Does Feline Aggression Look Like

Feline body language is subtle and is made up of facial expressions, body postures and the position of cats’ ears, tails and even their whiskers. Understanding what your kitten’s body postures mean will help you manage problems more effectively, and this will lead to a better relationship with your kitten into adulthood.

Aggressive behavior can be either offensive or defensive. A cat on the offensive tries to appear larger and more intimidating. A defensive cat does just the opposite by trying to appear smaller.

Offensive postures can include: upright ears, rotated slightly forward; fur standing on end, including a puffed out fat tail; and stiffened rear legs with the rear-end raised and the back sloping downward toward the head. A cat on the offensive will have a direct stare, constricted pupils and be directly facing and possibly moving toward the target. You might hear growling or even yowling from your cat in this heightened state of offensive aggression.

A defensive cat will be crouching, head down with her tail curved around the body and tucked in. Her eyes will be wide open with pupils dilated and her ears will appear flattened sideways or backwards. Defensive cats will turn sideways to their opponent with open-mouthed hissing. Her whiskers may be retracted or may be out and forward to help judge the distance between the danger zone and herself. Your defensive kitten may strike out with her front paws with exposed claws.

Kittens are of course going to play, so rough play is natural among kittens and adolescent cats of less than two years old. Kittens learn through play with each other to suppress their bites and sheathe their claws when roughhousing with each other. They quickly learn when play is too rough and causing pain to their playmates — the result is retaliation, and play time will stop. Kittens who were orphaned or weaned early might never have learned to temper their play behavior.

Play aggression can be spotted in your kitten’s body posture. Her tail will be lashing back and forth, her ears flat against the head and her pupils will dilate. This behavior might develop after a normal play session that escalates into biting and scratching. Kittens who stalk or hide and then jump out and attack you as you pass are also exhibiting a form of play aggression.

If you leave your kitten alone for long hours at a time without any opportunity to play, she may be bursting with energy and play extra rough when you interact with her. This is more than likely just play and doesn’t mean that your kitten is aggressive. Kittens typically play quietly. If your kitten is growling or hissing, this is a sign things are getting too aggressive.

Our Gracey was orphaned at only a few weeks old, so she did not have the opportunity to learn how to inhibit her biting and claws. She loved to leap onto my back from the top of the furniture when I walked by. Sometimes it truly scared the dickens out of me, and her little claws digging into my back was a bit painful. To overcome Gracey’s ninja maneuver, I increased our play time together. I used a wand toy to encourage Gracey to chase and pounce on the moving target. She also loved batting about a simple aluminum foil ball. I would throw the ball ahead of me while walking so she chased the ball instead of attacking me.

Solution to Kitten Aggression

I was spending a lot of time at my office and thought she must be getting lonely, so as a perk of owning my own business, I began to take Gracey to work with me. This solved the leaping kitten attacks, and I must say I liked having her keep me company in the office as well. You might not have the option of taking your kitten to work with you, but do try to schedule plenty of playtime with your kitten when you are home together. Don’t encourage your kitten to bat at your fingers or toes, but rather redirect him away from you with a wand toy or by throwing a foil ball.

Make sure to provide a variety of cat toys for your kitten to chase and pounce on like prey. One of our other cats, Eddie, likes little fake mice that rattle, and he has a stuffed lion toy he carries with him everywhere. Our Annie likes to stalk and chase, so the wand toys are ideal for her. We make sure to engage in play sessions that run her until she tires out.

Try to keep the novelty factor with the toys you provide by rotating them. Keep out a few of their favorite toys and place others in storage for a while. Then change the toys out to keep your kitten’s interest. New objects don’t have to be expensive or complicated; a paper bag and a cardboard box are often just the thing to occupy your playful kitten.

You might consider adopting two kittens to keep each other company. If you can, choose a pair that has already bonded; perhaps they were kept in the same cage at the shelter or are from the same litter.

When your kitten starts to bite or scratch you, end the play session by leaving the room. This is a kitty time-out. Your kitten will learn that when she is too rough, play time ends. This will teach her not to be so aggressive. Do not try to pick up your kitten and put her in another room for her time-out as this might elicit more bites.

Don’t use toys that train your kitten to play with your fingers, like a glove with balls dangling from the fingers. This type of toy only tells your cat it is OK to direct her play at your hands, and she will not understand that it is only OK to attack your fingers while you are wearing the toy gloves. Don’t encourage your kitten to play with your feet or toes. You might find this behavior amusing when she is a tiny kitten, but you won’t think it is as much fun when your kitten grows up and her play becomes painful and possibly dangerous.

Never punish your kitten for rough play. If you slap your kitten or tap her nose, she may think of this action as play and retaliate even rougher. If you physically punish your cat, she might become afraid of you and respond by avoiding you, or worse, her play will turn into true aggression. When your kitten is playing a little too rough, do not run from her or try to block her movements. This action can intensify her actions and possibly cause him to become aggressive.

Your time with your kitten is precious. They grow up so quickly. While there is absolutely nothing wrong with a fun game of hide and seek and engaging in play with your kitten, just be aware of any signs that your kitten might need some direction on what is acceptable and what isn’t when it come to playtime.

How to handle a kitten

Generally speaking, a mother will always look for a safe place to raise her litter of kittens. She will usually choose somewhere that is quiet, dark, dry, warm and safe from any predators, male cats or curious humans.

If a mother is calm and healthy after giving birth, then you don’t need to move your litter straight away. When the kittens are two weeks old, you can start to play more of a role in raising them. Sometimes, the mother doesn’t choose the best place to give birth to her litter. This can be because she is inexperienced, because of changes in the environment, or it can just be a poor choice.

In these cases, you might need to decide to move the kittens to a better, more protected place. However, it’s important to bear in mind that, if you move the kittens too early, you can make their mother anxious. In extreme cases, a mother might abandon her litter if it is moved by a human.

This article will provide a few key tips to help you know when to move your cat’s litter.

1. Watch how your cat behaves with her litter

Hopefully, your cat should already be quite comfortable around you and will trust you to care for her. If this is the case, then your cat shouldn’t feel anxious or concerned when you get close to her or her kittens. When you move around her bed, move slowly so that you can watch her reaction before you handle any of her kittens.

2. Choose the right place to move your litter of kittens

There are a couple of questions you can ask yourself to know if you’ve chosen the right place to put your litter of kittens:

  • Can you close off the area to prevent the mother from moving her kittens?
  • Is the area big enough for a litter box to allow the mother to do what she needs?
  • Is there a safe place where you can put water and food bowls, away from the litter box?

The area should also be very quiet. This means that it should be away from any busy areas of the house and any noise from the TV, phone, or radio.

It should also be sheltered from any drafts and kept at a moderate temperature, ideally around 25°C.

One option is to use wardrobes in your guest bedroom or another bedroom that you don’t often use. Other areas that would work well are corners of a laundry room or coatroom, or a basement, as long as it’s dry and warm.

3. Make up a new bed for your litter of kittens

Once you’ve chosen the best spot, you can put together your litter’s bed. A solid cardboard box, the same length and width as your cat, will be an ideal bed.

Washing baskets can also be an excellent bed, as long as any openings are less than an inch wide. If they’re any bigger, the kittens might slide through and risk getting injured or cold.

4. Ensure the bed is comfortable and warm

Cover the bottom of the bed with a thick towel, a blanket, or a piece of old clothing, and then place the bed in your chosen spot. Make sure you also move the cat’s litter tray and any food or water bowls. In the end, what you want to create is a place where the mother will feel comfortable and the kittens will be safe and warm.

5. Move the litter and their mother together

Encourage the mother to move from her current spot by tempting her with a tasty treat. Small pieces of cooked chicken or spoonful of canned tuna should do the trick. The idea is to move her from her bed, but without shooing or scaring her. She has to be able to see what you’re doing, but from a short distance away. Take the kittens from their old bed, but make sure you handle them carefully so that you don’t drop them.

The kittens may call out to their mother to try to attract her attention when you handle them, but don’t let their meows discourage you from moving them to their new safe bed.

6. Place the mother in her new bed

Encourage the mother to follow you to her new bed. Let her watch while you place the bed and the kittens in their new home. It’s important to let the mother follow her kittens to the new bed. Some mothers might think their kittens will be harmed and might act aggressively.

If you think the mother might try to protect her kittens when you move them, it’s a good idea to wear long sleeves and thick gloves for protection.

7. Keep them in their new bed and let them adjust

Once all the kittens and their mother are in the new bed, close the door. Check on them every now and again throughout the day, but try to leave the family to get used to their new home.

Initially, the mother will probably not like her new bed and will want to move and hide her kittens again. With this in mind, try to find somewhere where the mother can’t get out easily.

Give the mother a treat once or twice a day for a couple of days to encourage her to accept her new home.

She might be irritated to begin with, but little by little she should become calmer. Make sure she and the kittens have everything they need and that the mother is taking good care of her babies.

8. Final steps to keep your litter of kittens safe

Newly born kittens will not have fully developed immune systems, so make sure you wash your hands thoroughly before handling them.

Avoid them getting into direct contact with other animals in your home. This will stop any germs from spreading.

Stroking or picking up newly born kittens can be dangerous. Just like human babies, kittens are extremely delicate. If you handle them roughly or accidentally drop them, you could damage their bones or vital organs. Try to be as gentle as possible with newborns. If you have small children at home, make sure they’re supervised closely when they handle the kittens.

By Arden Moore, a certified dog and cat behaviorist with the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants. Arden is an author, radio host, and writer for Pets Best Pet Insurance, a pet insurance agency for dogs and cats.

When I turned six, my mom gave me my first cat, a Siamese kitten I named Corky. He was a big cat with an apple-shaped head and a mouth that rarely stopped meowing. He followed me like a dog, especially whenever I carried a fishing pole. We had a small lake in our backyard and Corky astutely made the connection between the fishing pole and his favorite meal – a fresh-caught blue gill fish.

Most of all, he trusted me. He would wade into the water with me for a swim and jump in the canoe for a paddle ride around the horseshoe-shaped lake. I will never forget Corky. He was my first pet, my first confidant, my pal.

Even though I begged my mom for a cat since I could remember, my mom waited until I entered kindergarten. She later told me that she wanted to make sure that I was “mature” enough to handle the responsibilities of having a cat.

When it comes to setting up a successful connection in a safe manner, age plays a role. In general, toddlers lack the ability to understand how their actions impact others, including family pets. Childhood psychologists note the following:

2 to 4 years old. Toddlers are in the ME-ME-ME phase of cognitive development. They also are still developing motor coordination and can be a little clumsy. They do not understand that yanking the cat’s tail or pinching his skin can startle and possibly, injure the cat. For these reasons, never leave a child unsupervised with even the friendliest of pets. Enlist your child as your “apprentice” with pet duties such as helping fill a food or water bowl and handing out a tasty treat for good pet behavior.

5 to 7 years old. At this age, children start to understand that others – including pets – have feelings. They learn that the family cat can experience pain. Under your supervision, your children should be able to handle the feeding and grooming of family pets. Show your children how to brush your cat’s coat and the proper way to hold your cat. You might even be able to guide your children on how to teach your cat a new trick, such as sitting on cue.

Adopting a family pet is a big deal and deserves a family meeting before heading to the shelter or rescue group center. Before you bring your new kitten or cat home, create a cat care schedule and post it on the refrigerator door or bulletin board. Everyone in the family should be assigned duties that can be checked out to ensure the cat’s needs are met. There should be daily check marks when someone cleans the litter box, provides fresh water, feeds the cat and grooms the cat.

Take the time to educate your kids about the best way to interact with not only the family cat but felines belonging to others. For example, let them know that cats do not like when people rush up to them and smother them in bear hugs. And, a newly adopted cat may feel a bit unsure at first, so your children can help him feel at home by being quiet and gentle. Advise your kids to sit and be still and to let the cat approach them. When he does, have your children hold out their hands to allow the cat to sniff and rub up against – this is the feline greeting.

Caution your children not to disturb a cat who is sleeping or using a litter box. He may feel startled or trapped and react by nipping or scratching them. Show them the right way to hold a cat by placing one hand or arm under the cat’s front legs and supporting the hind legs with the other hand or arm. Tell them to be respectful when a cat starts to wiggle and wants to get down.

Let your kids know that cats prefer being stroked from head to tail, not patted on the head. And what games cats like best, such as stalking a feather wand or toy mouse tossed down the hall.

Purposeful play is important in the development of children and cats. Play performed in a positive setting can build confidence in both, and teach both the benefits of true friendships. I know it did for me and Corky.

This was the question running through my mind as I lay awake in bed at 3 a.m. the morning after I brought one home. Having recently lost one of my elderly cats, I had made the decision to adopt a new kitten. But on our first night together, I was being reminded of what that decision actually entailed. Being a wild cat trainer by trade and living adjacent to my very own zoo, I’ve raised a lot of kittens both wild and domestic, but my memories of kitten rambunctiousness had faded. Now, with this new addition, I was being abruptly reminded of the nocturnal nature, high energy and neediness that a kitten has to offer.

If you’re experiencing neediness issues with your kitten, don’t despair. Most problems can be easily lessened or solved completely through better understanding you kitten’s behavior and applying simple solutions to correct problems.

Needy Vs. Normal Kitten Behavior

A kitten, by definition, is going to need you. If you think about it, you’re the new parent and sibling rolled into one. Be prepared to devote a good amount of time helping her adjust to this new life and to attend to her needs.

A kitten’s behavior will be defined largely upon her prior experiences. If possible, before you bring your kitten home, gather as much information as you can about her past. This will help you understand her reasons for behaving or misbehaving. Don’t hesitate to ask questions.

A kitten who is acting unusual may just be acting out the stress she feels due to the sudden life changes. Imagine how she must feel in her new world, having been abruptly removed from her mother and siblings to face dramatic change in almost every way.

Some behaviors may seem odd, but are completely normal. For example, kittens and cats are crepuscular (active at dusk and dawn) and nocturnal, so you can expect frisky behavior when you’re ready to relax for the evening and drop off to sleep. You may also notice that your kitty is sleeping her life away. This is normal baby mammal behavior. Cats spend a lot of time sleeping as it is, but young and older individuals will snooze more often. Also, your kitty will need frequent feedings at first, so offer her food before she’s hungry enough to bother you for it.

It’s also important to note that some behavioral problems can be caused by health issues, so be sure to schedule your vet visit as soon as possible.

Training With Positive Reinforcement

So what should you do when your kitten is exhibiting demanding behavior? Although we most often think of dogs when we think of training, our feline companions are not only extremely trainable, but they can enjoy the training process. Young animals are perfect for the job, as they are very impressionable and eager for attention, so starting when your cat is a kitten is ideal. Let’s begin with three common demanding behaviors and simple techniques to start you on your way to becoming kitten trainer extraordinaire!

1. Meowing Out Of Turn

All of us at some point accidentally reinforce unwanted behavior. It’s extremely easy to do with a meowing kitten at your feet. She wants something; that’s obvious. Let’s try some cat food . Not hungry? How ‘bout a cat toy ? That’s not it either. In the meantime she just keeps it up, and the meowing is getting louder and louder. You may not realize it, but by giving her everything she may need when she’s meowing, you’re teaching her to never stop. Why not teach her to meow on cue?

Tease her with a cat treat and when she meows say “Good” and give her the treat. Then, only offer treats, praise or petting for a meow when you have asked for the behavior. Never reward unsolicited meows.

2. Scratching Furniture

Sometimes cats seek attention by doing things that are destructive, such as scratching furniture. Kittens scratch to mark territory and to sharpen their claws. A cat scratching post may seem like an ideal solution, but sometimes the kitten will still prefer the furniture. That’s often because each kitty has her own personality, her own needs and preferences. If one scratching post doesn’t work, try a different type. There are many on the market. Then teach your kitty to use it.

My kitten, Zuma, preferred the slanted, pressed cardboard variety with catnip sprinkled through the cracks. When I saw her approach the furniture I would simply pick her up, sprinkle some catnip on the cardboard and place her on top. I would then scratch with my fingernails along with her as if I were the mother kitty, literally demonstrating what to do. I would also add a verbal cue and say, “Scratch, Zuma, scratch.”

It’s also important to run interference pre-furniture scratching. Catch her when she’s thinking about it instead of in the act. Then change her mind by helping to create and then reinforce the appropriate action. Be sure to praise her and pet her lightly while she’s on the scratching post. Even if she doesn’t scratch at first, she will eventually get the idea.

3. Kitten As Ankle Bracelet

Does your kitten follow you anywhere and everywhere around the house? Does she take it one step further and launch onto your calf with claws extended when stimulated by the movement of your stride? One simple solution to this painful kitten playfulness is a cat feather wand . These wands are flexible sticks with feathers attached at one end, and they work wonders. Not to mention, they are inexpensive and you can purchase them in any pet store.

Gather your wand and locate your kitty. Do not move until you have the kitty in sight or know what piece of furniture she’s hiding under. Now walk at your normal pace with the wand between your leg and the kitten. Wiggle the wand so the feathers by your feet will move and stimulate your kitten to play with the pretend bird instead of your leg. Make this a routine practice when passing by your kitty and she will quickly learn to attack the feathers instead of you. The feather wand can be handily used at any time to keep your pet busy and burn up excess energy.

Positive Or Negative?

Positive reinforcement in the form of treats and petting is the best method to use when training a kitten. However, sometimes, a little negative goes a long way. If you do use negative reinforcement, it is extremely important to immediately reward your subject the second she stops the unwanted behavior. For example, when your kitten meows out of turn, stomp your foot lightly. When the surprise noise stops the vocalization, quickly pet kitty and say, “Good girl.”

Whatever your kitten issues may be, there are training solutions to your problems. Once you learn the techniques and practice them consistently and often, you will be amazed at the positive results that follow for you and your special feline.

Hello everyone! So I have grown up with cats, my parents have had 4 cats, so I generally am very experienced with being a cat owner in general. However, the entire time we have had cats my mom has worked from home, so even in the kitten stage someone was at home at all times. Now that I have moved to a different state for graduate school and my new job, I wanted to get a cat of my own. I just took the bar exam in July and wanted to wait until my results came out before I got a kitten so I would know for sure my financial situation since obviously kittens are expensive. Thankfully I have passed and I am extremely excited to get a kitten. However, I am worried on what to do with the kitten while I am at work from 9-5. I could just close my bedroom door and leave their food and litter in there, but for some reason I am just very scared of them jumping on my dresser or something, and falling and hurting themselves. Or possibly getting a big cage for them, but I would feel bad about leaving them in that confined space the whole day. Does anyone have any experience with adopting a kitten then leaving to go to work and leaving them by themselves all day?

Are you dead set on a kitten? Older cats need love, too, and are more likely to not bounce off the walls 24/7. That said, as long as they have litter, water, food, and toys, kittens are pretty good at keeping themselves occupied even shut in a room alone. I had to quarantine my new one for 2 weeks and even though I work from home, would only go up on my breaks and then after work for an hour or two. I gradually exposed him to the rest of the house and the other cats which went fine – he prefers to hang out close to me most of the time anyway (and isn't afraid of anyone so mostly the other cats try to stay out of his way).

I guess I am not really dead set on a kitten, I very much admire people who adopt seniors and give them a great last journey through life. I am, however, only now "getting over" the loss of my cat (who I believe was probably one of my soulmates) who ran away 2 years ago, and we can only assume he has passed on. When looking for him, we found another cat that a woman was taking care of, but she couldn't bring him in the house because her mom was very allergic, and it was starting to get cold in our state. My mom decided to drive over an hour to pick up this cat because he would have died if he remained outside. My mom did say that as cat owners we "took an oath" to take care of all cats that we can instead of just our own, and thats why we decided to take him in. He was able to live for the next year and a half, but he died in March due to heart failure and fluid filling his lungs during surgery and he didn't make it out. I am still also getting over that, and while I still want to live by what my mom said, I guess I am a bit biased to wanting a younger cat so I "have more time with them" instead of taking an older cat in and "having less time". I don't mean for that to sound insensitive, I genuinely just don't know how else to word it. Sorry for the long story, I guess I just wanted to explain while I could be open for it, but I am a bit biased to get a kitten first