HGlick has rescued and placed stray cats for over 20 years and has personally fostered more than ten during that time
Cats are wonderful creatures, and you may be surprised to learn that they are very trainable, especially during their most curious stage of life, when they are kittens. Not only are they very easy to train, but they will also love you and your efforts.
Learn how to train a kitten with these 7 easy steps:
Step1: Set Up a Safe Room For Training Your Kitten
The first thing you need to do when you bring home a kitten is to set up a safe room, or kitten-proofed room.
Kittens are curious and love to explore, so you need to make sure that they have a spot where they can play and be safe from items that could hurt them. You can use a large box, such as a large shoebox or a cardboard box, with holes in it for them to see through. You can also use a small room, such as a bathroom or closet, or even a child's playpen with the sides taken off.
Step 2: How To Train Your Kitten With Toys
If you are looking for the perfect toy for your kitten? You've come to the right place.
Kittens are full of energy and curiosity, and they want to explore the world and get into any little nook or cranny they can. To keep your kitten safe, it's important to provide plenty of toys.
While kittens love to play, they can be fickle about the types of toys that they like; thankfully, there are a few key things to keep in mind when choosing toys. First, kittens like to chase, pounce, and bat toys. Second, they love to play with toys with various textures.
Some nice toys to consider are the kitty tunnel with an opening for the head, tiny rattling balls, the infamous catnip-filled carrot, the light laser, and the fluttering fishing pole.
A common belief is that kittens need to play to burn off excess energy, which can lead to destructive behavior. This isn't entirely true, though; while it's true that kittens who don't get enough exercise can become destructive, playing with your kitten isn't the only way to keep him active.
A very successful way to de-energize his battery is to provide several periods of human hand toy activities. Flickering your fingers on their paws or belly provides quite an exercise for your little kitty, as he waves furiously in response.
Step 3: How to Litter Train a Kitten
Train the kitten to use the litter pan AS SOON AS HE ARRIVES.
In most cases, litter training a kitten is not a difficult task. A kitten is born with an instinct to bury his wastes. However, he may need to be pointed in the direction of where to eliminate.
If the kitten was litter trained to the litter pan by the mother, your job will be made easy. Merely select the kind of box and litter he was accustomed to using.
If his mother was not around, select a good quality clumping litter, such as Arm & Hammer Clump & Seal. It is very easy to keep clean and quite effective. Once you settle on a litter he accepts, do not change brands or you will upset his routine, and cause a break in training.
To train a kitten to use a litter pan, set him in it whenever he wakes up from a nap, after each meal, and anytime he wants to eliminate. Whenever he makes a mistake, reprimand him with a loud "NO" or a squirt of water, but only if you catch him in the act. Never rub his nose in his mistakes!
Once the kitten becomes comfortable with the litter pan, it is important to keep it clean. Cats do not like dirty pans. Scoop out solid material once or twice a day and stir the filler to keep the surface dry. Change the filler every 3 to 4 days, or more often if necessary.
Step 4: How to Train a Kitten Not to Scratch
Destructive scratching is one of the most common problems you are likely to encounter. A kitten will sharpen his claws as part of his normal grooming activity. During this process, the worn-down outer sheath of the claw is removed. This will expose a new inner claw underneath.
To avoid damage to furniture and upholstery you can provide your kitty with a reasonable substitute such as a scratching post. Here he can sharpen his nails and release energy at the same time.
The scratching post should be ready when the kitten arrives. He should be taken to it a few times a day, after naps, the first thing in the morning, and whenever he gives signs of wanting to scratch.
A cat scratching post can be bought commercially or made by mounting a 30-inch long pine board on a two-foot square wooden base. It can be covered with tightly woven carpet. A 45-degree angle can be created by using a second piece of board to form a triangle. The stronger the post, the happier your kitty will be.
Insist that he use the post and reward him for good behavior. Remember to always use positive reinforcement rather than physical punishment, because it is counter-productive.
A good way to prevent a kitten from scratching in a favorite place is to line up several mouse traps upside down. When the kitten steps on the back of the trap, the resulting "pop" will provide a scare. This scare will be productive in helping to prevent a future incident.
Step 5: How To Teach A Kitten Its Name?
Whether you're calling him for playtime, feeding time, or because he is misbehaving, it is important to teach your kitten to come when called. Since cats normally respond to commands only when it is to their advantage to do so. In order to get their cooperation, you must reward them with tasty treats and affection.
At feeding time call your kitten by name and follow it with the word "COME" with his name. You can repeat this training exercise when he comes to you for stroking. With repetition, the kitten will learn to associate the word "COME" plus his name with a pleasurable experience. If he refuses to obey, you might try to entice him by tossing a toy nearby.
Don't expect kitty to come to you for something he doesn't enjoy, and NEVER, call him to you for punishment.
The Best Way to Teach a Kitten to Answer Your Voice Is By Using a Clicker Training App On Your Smartphone
Step 6: How Do You Discipline a Bad Kitten?
Most kittens love to play and when they become overexcited they tend to scratch or bite. This habit is very easy to spot, especially if you are adopting kitten siblings. They will constantly bite each other until one of them retreats.
Play biting is a normal response for kittens and usually not an aggressive activity responding to fear, pain or hostility. These reactions will be fairly easy to recognize by the force of the bite. Generally, a softer bite or peck is just playing.
It is important not to encourage scratching or biting. The introduction of a cat scratching post, rubber gloves, or the laser light toy during biting will tell your kitty these items are the play toys and not your hand. If you give your kitten at least 15 minutes a day with one of these interactive toys, he will start to calm down.
Sucking on fabrics is another habit that kittens might pick up from birth. Animal behaviorists suggest that this can be traced to an unsatisfied nursing drive produced by insufficient nursing with the mother early on.
This habit frequently can be stopped early by catching the kitten in the act and tapping him on the nose with your finger. This is basically how a mother cat reprimands her young.
Another kitty habit is excessive social grooming. This can be prevented or slowed down by increasing his environmental stimulation, with new play areas, catnip toys, or kitty videos. If these aren't sufficient introduce a new perching spot. Sometimes there is a psychological symptom involved, where a vet can help.
Step 7: How to Socialize a Kitten
Socializing can be the greatest time-consuming but the most rewarding of all of the steps in training a kitten. There are 4 factors that will promote socialization.
- HELP THEM BE AT EASE (MAKE THEM COMFORTABLE)
If they are staying in a crate, keep it high off the ground. Cats feel safer being able to see their surroundings.
When you bring them inside give them a few days to adjust to their new surroundings. Speak softly, move gingerly and keep the TV or music playing low.
After a few days, leave the TV or radio on to help them get used to new sounds.
Move the crate to new areas in the home to give them new experiences getting used to other people or pets.
Remember, hiding, spitting or hissing are signs of fear, not aggression - BE PATIENT!
- USE FOOD TO MAKE THEM COMFORTABLE WITH YOU
Kittens love to eat. So when you feed them, you create trust and a positive bond through this interaction.
Always keep dry food in the room and feed them wet food in person. They will associate the tasty food with their surrogate mother (YOU). You can also gently pet them while they're eating and eventually, move the food closer and hold them in your lap during feeding, creating even greater trust.
Do not feed the kittens using your fingers. This may entice them to bite or scratch, which will create a negative reinforcement.
- PLAY WITH THEM
You should play with your new kitten(s) a few hours a day. Make time for each kitten in the litter individually. After you have spent a good deal of time with them, pick up and hold the kitten(s) close to your body for about 30 minutes so that they can feel the warmth of your body.
At 3 to 4 weeks, you can introduce toys to the kittens as they start to become more playful. Bouncing and rattling plastic balls, the feather wand, or the belt loop on a fishing pole will give them plenty of activity and create a stronger bond. Eventually, the kitten(s) will purr and fall asleep on your lap
- INTRODUCE NEW PEOPLE AND/OR PETS TO THEM
After 5-6 weeks, when the little kitty is comfortable enough, you will be able to move him to a room where other family members can meet and play with him. You also may be able to slowly introduce him to other household pets. Initially, this would be best accomplished with a small carrier. Encourage your other dog or cat to sniff the carrier at first. If everything seems quiet you can slowly release him to play with his new brother or sister.
At What Age Can You Start Training a Kitten?
Kittens have a sense of curiosity that will kick in around three months of age. This means that they'll start to explore on their own, and begin the learning process much earlier than adult cats. Most experts agree that a kitten should begin training at the age of 5-8 weeks.
To help put your kitten on the right track, it's important to teach them what's acceptable behavior and what's not so that they learn what they can and can't do in a safe environment.
Practical Guide to Cat Training
Kitten Training TIMELINE
|1 WEEK OLD KITTEN||2 WEEK OLD KITTEN||3 WEEK OLD KITTEN||4 WEEK OLD KITTEN||5 WEEK OLD KITTEN||6 WEEK OLD KITTEN||7 WEEK OLD KITTEN||8 WEEK OLD KITTEN|
sense of smell
start litter training
increase socializing to more people
introduce to other family pets
introduce to more people/more pets and surroundings
earliest point for neutering
still need mom
introduce wet food
start to interact with people
very playful - full of energy
fall asleep after excess playing and exploring
fairly self sufficient
fully developed and socialized
more aware of surroundings
Kneading/can not yet retract claws
Begin socializing and talking to kitten
teach kitten to come when called
teach them about biting and scratching
They begin socially grooming themselves and others
How To Raise a Well Adjusted Cat
Cat Owners Home Veterinary Handbook
Kittens are small and cute but they get into all kinds of trouble, especially when they are young. Naughty kittens can drive their owners insane. Kittens need to be trained to inhibit their natural tendencies to chew, claw, run and jump. Starting your kitten off on the right paw is easier if you begin the training while they are still young.
hglick (author) from Riverhead,NY on May 18, 2021:
Yes I've had my share of these guys, All of them with different personalities but they are all trainable
Sp Greaney from Ireland on May 18, 2021:
This is a really good list of instructions on how to train kittens. I've only adopted cats from 6 months up, so I've never really had to train them. But it's good to know these things for anyone I know who is thinking of getting a kitten.