Kitten Behaviour & Training
Everything in a kittens life has purpose and it is the owners job to shape a kittens development into a well balanced individual
Much of a cats behaviour is learnt during the first few months of life. Initially everything is learnt from the mother, which includes cleaning and using a litter tray. After this period the kitten will learn some things from its owners, such as where food is and what time of day is best for play. The owners can also influence the character of the kitten as it grows by exposing it to various stimuli.
Play is essential for reinforcing relationships and for encouraging a kitten to become confident. Play is essentially hunting practice and a kitten who has lots of play will become a better 'hunter'. This doesn't mean that it will constantly bring home mice or birds but that it will become a more confident cat, able to deal with unusual situations better and more able to entertain itself when required.
Although both adult cats and kittens sleep a lot, for kittens sleep is deeper and more important. During a young kittens deep sleep it is actually going through physiological changes and releasing hormones which control its growth. For this reason it is important to let your kitten sleep and avoid interruptions as much as possible
During the younger months of a kittens life it will learn about all the situations it finds itself in and develop reactions to stimulus. This means that if a kitten is exposed to unusual things such as loud noises, different people, other animals or travelling in cars, then it is more likely to be at ease with these things as it matures into adult life.
Kittens will not understand a telling off, but there are other ways
Young kittens can be quite a handful, they will often investigate anything they can, get as much attention as they can, constantly ask for food, have little control over their claws and easily climb curtains, sofas and destroy anything and everything they see. Much like children it is important to let them do as much as possible, but within set and clear boundaries which should be rigidly adhered to. If it is not ok
to be on the kitchen table, it is always not ok
to be on the kitchen table.
In time your kitten will learn the rules and become more settled and balanced. Remember not to punish your kitten, it will not learn this way. The only way to train a kitten is to lead by example association, or avoidance.
Quite simply this is showing your kitten what to do. Normally this is in relation to litter training where it may be necessary to show your kitten how to dig in the litter tray by gently holding its paw and digging. Combine this with putting the kitten in the tray after feeding and it will soon get the idea and use the litter tray.
Punishment does not work when training cats, but it is possible to trick your kitten into associating unpleasant events with bad habits, causing your kitten to stop the habit. This is commonly done with a light squirt of water from a water pistol, or a loud clap. For instance if your kitten keeps clawing its way up the curtains, a quick squirt of water every time should eventually stop the habit. Make sure the kitten does not recognise that you are the source of the water or it will just climb the curtains when you are out!
If your kitten is constantly asking for food or treats outside of set meal-times, or asking for some of your food, and you eventually give in and give it food then it has learnt that if it keeps asking it will eventually get. This could lead to a cat which constantly meows at you for food, or jumps up on the table or your lap while you are eating. However, if you ignore your kittens calls when they are not appropriate or give a stern warning, your kitten will learn that it is not worth the effort or that if it sits quietly and gets a treat at the end then patience is a better strategy.