We don’t often hear about kitten training. It is often thought that kittens cannot be trained, but this is simply not true!
Yes, kittens are cute, fluffy and absolutely adorable to look at, but just like puppies, they need some guidance when it comes to good and bad behaviour.
Cats are quite different to dogs, but they are highly intelligent and it is particularly beneficial to begin to train your kitten as early as possible.
With some quick and easy kitten training tips, you can improve your kitten’s behaviour and they can be trained to respond to your commands.
8 effective kitten training tips
Find a motivating reward for your kitten
Reward-based kitten training is by far the most humane and effective way of training your new ball of fluff. Positive reinforcement is a great place to start, but a good rub or a pat on the head doesn’t necessarily work on cats as it does on dogs.
This is because cats aren’t people pleasers. They don’t long for human affection like dogs do. With this in mind, you must identify an alternative reward that your cat will appreciate, and food is usually the best bet.
Try several alternatives like cooked chicken, turkey, beef or tuna or some commercial treats available at pet shops before you identify your kitten’s favourite.
Handle your kitten in various ways
From a young age, be sure to practice handling your kitten in different ways.
Getting them accustomed to this from early on will make them less stressed in new situations and it will make it easier to groom them, clean their ears or brush their teeth in the future.
Train your kitten to recognise their name
This is no easy task, but it is hugely rewarding to have a cat come to you when called.
Ideally, pick a shorter name that will be easy for your pet to recognise, and every time you call your kitten, use their name followed by a positive, happy ‘yes’ or a click (if using a clicker) along with a treat as a reward.
This process can take a few weeks or even months, but kittens are more likely to learn faster.
Train your kitten to listen to commands
Similar to learning their name, kittens can be trained to listen to commands. This will require some effort and a lot of patience, but it will feel like a wonderful achievement for both you and your kitten.
You can begin by asking your kitten to sit, for example. The second they complete the command, again use positive, happy language or a click, followed immediately by a treat to reward the behaviour.
Litter box kitten training
As soon as you have your furry friend home, show them the litter box. Pop your kitten in the box and allow them to become familiar with the new environment.
It’s a good idea to sit your kitten directly in the litter box after meals and naps and ensure you are rewarding them with their favourite treat upon relieving themselves in the assigned spot.
This process can be expected to take several weeks, but cats are quite intuitive. With some positive reinforcement and a little bit of time spent digging in the box, they will catch on in no time.
Play safely with your kitten
Cats, particularly young cats, have a habit of playing rough often using their teeth and claws. And while that might be all cute and funny in the early stages, let’s be honest, once they get to a few months old, it hurts!
Never fear, you can train your kitten to play nice by setting strict rules from the beginning and only encouraging appropriate play. The rules must be clear across the household, so the kitten understands that playing rough is not acceptable with anyone in the family.
It’s also best not to wave your hands or feet at the kitten to avoid encouragement to pounce on humans. If your kitten starts biting you, stop playing with them immediately, leave the room and close the door if you can.
In addition to strict rules, it is also important to have different toys for your precious pet to play with. Something soft to wrestle, for example, or something fun to play with together, such as a ball or feathers on a stick. A small object to chase around will take away the need to use human appendages as toys to be attacked.
Teach your kitten to socialise with other humans
Between the age of 2-7 weeks, kittens should be exposed to various sounds, sights, humans and animals, to develop social skills. You can take your kitten for short walks using a lead or perhaps invite friends over to meet your new pet and encourage them to play together.
Reward your kitten with a treat during each experience, so they learn to enjoy a variety of social situations and don’t grow up feeling nervous around new people.
Teach your kitten to use a bed and a carrier
Once again, using rewards-based techniques is most efficient when training your kitten to use a bed. To start, they must become familiar with the space. Place some food or toys on their bed and allow them to acclimatise to it in their own time.
The same method can be used for your kitten’s carrier. Many cats get stressed and cry out of fear when travelling, which in turn can be extremely stressful for you, as a concerned owner.
To avoid this, it’s important to get your kitty used to travel in a carrier from a young age. It will take a while for your pet to adjust to the space, so allow them time to explore and begin to love their bed and carrier.
After a few meals in their new bed or carrier, kittens will associate positive experiences with both of these spaces, making it less frightening for them in the future.
For all your kitten training needs
You can always depend on Mark + Chappell to be an authoritative source for cat and kitten care.
We also explore a range of pet-related issues in our blog supporting you every step of the way on your journey of pet ownership.
Now go have fun with your adorable kitten!