Bringing Up Baby: A Wild Hair – Kittens

Kittens are so entertaining and fun to play with but can be little tornadoes sometimes. How in the world do we keep them from shredding the curtains and attacking our ankles? Unfortunately, kitten training is nothing like puppy training. Kittens do not seem to understand commands and are too independent.

Using your hands or feet as toys is a big mistake. This teaches a kitten to think it is ok to bite and scratch you. This can lead to cats that seem mean and aggressive, and could lead you to feel ill will toward your furry baby. It is very important to play with your cat using an actual toy. Fishing line toys, feathers, and catnip stuffed animals are great to use, but try out any toy that you think your cat might like—you can never have too many.  “Toy time” is a critical bonding experience with you and a way to safely expel energy.

It is important to teach your kitten to use the litter box. Even at the early age of 5-8 weeks old they can retain much of this information. Doing these simple things will create a happy cat and owner:
Provide at least 1 inch of litter in a box at least twice their size.
Clean out the litter box at least twice daily.
Dump litter and scrub once a week.

Make sure it is in a quiet, safe area. Remember you wouldn’t want to use the restroom in the middle of the house.  

Lastly, provide an acceptable place for them to scratch. Scratching is a means of communication and is usually displayed like “kitty graffiti.”  Scratching posts should be sturdy and tall enough for them to extend their full body length.  Entice your kitten to use it with toys or even catnip.  Praise them or give a treat each time.

Positive reinforcement for all of these activities will make them permanent behaviors. Your carpet, extremities, and furniture will thank you.