Congratulations on your new family member! Kittens make a great addition to your household, but they can also be a lot of work. Training a kitten can be a daunting process, but we’ve taken a look at all the latest information out there and amassed it here to help you on your way.
What Should I Expect When I First Bring My Kitten Home?
Every kitten is unique, but it’s good to have a starting point for what behavior to expect. When you first bring them home, they might be cautious or frightened of the new environment. If this is the case for you then give them some space to explore their new environment. They may hide under furniture for a while or explore room to room, often keeping close to the walls and sniffing at corners.
This is perfectly natural as they get adjusted to their new home. However, if you feel that your kitten is showing signs of being more scared than you feel is normal, you can also keep them in a small, separate room for their first day in your home. This way they can get used to you and the smells of the house without being exposed to such a large space. A small bathroom, laundry room, or office space could serve this purpose.
Cats of all ages respond very well to positive reinforcement. Consider stocking up on healthy treats to positively reward your new kitten when they do something good. They’ll quickly learn the difference between your happy voice and your angry voice, so be sure to give them lots of praise.
Spraying with a water bottle is a common scolding method, but cats can sometimes associate this negative experience with you instead of their own behavior. Using a stern “no” will suffice to let your cat know that they’re doing something bad.
Using Their New Litter Box
Litter box training can be very simple and quick for a new kitten. In fact, mother cats will train their kittens to use the litter box if they’ve been raised by her for long enough. However, if your new kitten doesn’t already have this skill, training is easy and comes natural to them.
Wait until you have fed them, then simply pick them up and place them in the box. You can encourage your kitten to understand the litter box by taking them gently by the paw and digging the sand with it, and before you know it, they’ll be using their box like a pro.
Scratching the Carpets and Furniture
One of the biggest worries new cat owners seem to have is that their pet will damage their home but having a new kitten doesn’t have to mean the end of your new couch. Scratching is natural for a cat and necessary for their nail health, so it’s important that you provide your kitten with a safe place to scratch. A good scratching post is the most readily available solution.
Once again, some gentle guidance can help. Try taking your kitten by the paw and gently mimicking the motion of scratching the post. You can also encourage your pet by scratching the post yourself. This is a fun and effective way to show your kitten where to safely scratch. If you see your new kitten using the scratching post, maybe consider rewarding them with healthy treats!
Curbing Those Biting Habits
Kitten teeth are very small but make no mistake, they’re sharp! If your kitten is a biter, there are ways to help stop the habit while still giving them the comfort and play they crave. Picking out toys for your kitten to chew on is fun for you and gives them an appropriate outlet for their biting habits.
Training a kitten to wrestle with larger toys instead of playing directly with your hands eases them away from using their pointy nails and teeth on you.
Keeping Off the Counters
Cats are prolific climbers, but there are various reasons you might not want them up on certain furniture. We’ve found the best way to keep your cat off one piece of furniture is to give them an alternative that they are allowed to be on. When choosing a scratching post, consider one that is large enough for your cat to climb up.
Some people choose to put empty shelving up on the walls that their cat is allowed to navigate. If giving your cat alternate routes still isn’t enough to keep them off the tables and counters, you can further discourage them by temporarily attaching some crinkled aluminum foil or sticky tape along the counter. Cats don’t like the experience of jumping up on these and will soon learn they’re better off avoiding it.
Running Around at Night
We all value a good night’s sleep, but a new kitten can be a bit disruptive to the household. Cats are nocturnal, meaning they are most active during the night. Combine that with the high energy of a kitten and you’ve got yourself a recipe for disrupted sleep. But have no fear! While high nighttime energy is very natural for a cat, there are a number of things you can do to reduce these behaviors.
A full stomach encourages your cat to nap, so consider shifting feeding times to right before bed. Playing with your cat and keeping them active through the day will help shift their natural habits to better match yours. If these aren’t enough, consider keeping your bedroom door shut while you sleep so your kitten doesn’t come in and wake you.
Socializing Your Kitten
Many cats are cautious of strangers or are overly particular about how you handle them. Socializing them early on is the best way to make sure your kitten is comfortable with you and the many people in your life.
Spend lots of time playing with your kitten, introduce them to others, and pick them up and handle them in various ways and they can get used to just about anything. This will also make future vet checkups easier, as your cat is comfortable with new people and new experiences.
Training a kitten can seem like a lot of work at first, but once you get the hang of it they’re very cooperative and super fun. Just be patient, consistent, and provide for your kitten’s needs and you’ll have a fully trained cat in no time. Above all else, don’t forget to give them lots of love!