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Purr-fect Petiquette: A Guide to Teaching Your Kitten Good Manners

February 1, 2024

Bringing a new kitten into your home is an exciting and joyous occasion. Little Fluffy can quickly steal your heart with her playful antics, adorable purrs, and tiny paws. However, just like with any new addition to the family, it’s essential to guide your furry friend towards good manners from the start. Little Fluffy is basically a tiny, meowing bundle of curiosity, boldness, and energy, which makes for a charming but dangerous mix. This stage of your pet’s life is crucial to her development; not just physically, but also mentally and emotionally. Teaching a kitten proper etiquette now, while she’s little, will not only help strengthen that special bond but also ensures a harmonious living environment for both you and your feline companion. A local Rockwall, TX vet offers insight on this below.

The Basics of Cat Behavior: Understanding Your Kitten’s Nature

It’s important to know what’s behind your kitten’s behavior. Cats are known for their independent and territorial nature. They communicate through body language, vocalizations, and various other behaviors. Recognizing these cues will help you tailor your training methods to suit your kitten’s personality.

Our feline friends are both predators and prey by nature. They basically come pre-wired with both hunting instincts and a desire to find safe spaces where they can hide. (Many scientists are starting to suspect that cats are actually the purrfect predators, but that’s another topic.) 

In other words, you can pretty much expect your kitten to practice her murder skills on you.

A few tips on this. 

  • Avoid playing with your cat using your hands or feet. That’s just teaching her that it’s fine to use you as a cat toy!
  • Playing with your kitten is fine, but ideally you want to use toys that you control from a distance. Some good options are laser pointers, string toys, remote controlled toys, and even balls that you can roll towards her.
  • Be firm but gentle when correcting bad behavior. Never punish your kitten! That may only scare her. (More on that later.)

Make Sure Your Kitten Feels Safe

Creating a secure and comfortable space for your kitten is very important, and is actually the first step towards teaching your little buddy good manners. 

Let’s start with the basics. Provide a cozy bed, litter box, food and water bowls, and stimulating toys. If your household is busy, put these things in a quiet corner of your home. 

Always handle little Fluffy with a loving and gentle touch. Talking to your kitten can also go a long way towards helping her feel safe. Plus, it’s great for bonding! It doesn’t really matter what you say: just use a friendly tone of voice.

Simply letting your tiny pet snuggle up on you at naptime also helps. Cats crave affection, and many just love cuddling up with their humans. In fact, this is good for you both! When you snuggle up with your feline friend, a special hormone, oxytocin, which is also known as the Cuddle Hormone, is released in both of you. This reinforces feelings of being loved and safe.

Litter Box Training 

Cats usually don’t need too much training to figure out the litter box: they instinctively bury their waste, which helps hide their scent from predators. 

Choose an appropriate litter. Avoid clay and clumping litters until little Fluffy is all grown up: these aren’t safe for kittens. Place the box in a quiet, easily accessible location. If your pet hasn’t got the hang of it, encourage her to use the litter box by placing them in it after meals or naps. Positive reinforcement, such as praise and treats, will help reinforce the desired behavior. 

That said, it’s usually only very young rescue kittens and former feral cats that need much guidance on this. If that is the case, you’ll of course want to be in constant contact with your vet.

Teaching Proper Scratching Etiquette

Scratching is a natural behavior for cats. Little Fluffy depends on those little claws for hunting, safety, and defense in the wild. Scratching not only lets your kitty keep her claws sharp, it also allows her to stretch her muscles and mark her territory. To prevent your furniture from becoming kitty scratching posts, provide alternatives scratching pads or posts. It may be tempting to get something that is kitten sized, but you may as well go for the full-size version, as your pet will outgrow it quickly. When little Fluffy uses her manicure station, reward her with treats and affection. Consistency is key!

How Do I Teach My Kitten Good Manners?

Like human toddlers, kittens need to learn what is and is not appropriate. It may be cute when your pet pounces on your shoelaces or bites or scratches you, but this will not be cute in an adult cat.  

if your pet does something naughty, such as biting or scratching, gently rebuke her and then guide her towards more appropriate behavior. How do you do this? First, immediately reproach her verbally. Don’t yell at her: just use a stern, disapproving tone. You can say ‘No’ or ‘Play nice’ or ‘Don’t bite’ or ‘Put Your Claws Away.’ Just be sure that you are using the same words or phrases every time.

Then, walk away and ignore your tiny pal for a while. Sooner or later, your tiny pet will figure it out!

No luck? incorporate something that will annoy your furry friend without hurting or really scaring her. You can squirt her with water or blow in her face. Loud noises also work well for this. Clap your hands, sound an alarm on your phone, or rattle a jar of change.

Socialize Your Kitten

Early socialization is vital! If you want little Fluffy to be a well-mannered cat, you’ll need to introduce her to different people, sounds, and environments. This helps prevent fear and anxiety later in life. Gradually expose your little furball to new experiences. Reward calm behavior and provide a safe retreat if she becomes overwhelmed. 

You can enlist help for this: have people come by to pet and play with your new arrival. You probably won’t have too much trouble getting volunteers! 

Play With Your Kitten

Kittens are furry, meowing bundles of energy, so providing them with an outlet for play is crucial for good behavior. Interactive toys, such as feather wands or laser pointers, can help burn off excess energy without teaching little Fluffy to use you as a toy. 

Can You Raise A Kitten To Be Cuddly?

Kittens are very small and fragile. They really crave feeling loved, safe, and cared for. In fact, our feline pals think of us as second parents. (They also think of us as their cooks, maid, and butler, but that’s besides the point.)

Spend lots of quality time with your little buddy. If she wants to snuggle on your lap or in your arms, by all means indulge her. Stroke your kitten gently as she is relaxing. Chances are, she’ll start her motor right up!

The big thing here? Never force attention on a kitten. Always let her decide when snuggle time stops and ends. If you try to force your furry pal to submit to being petted or held when she doesn’t want to, you’ll end up doing more harm than good! 

Do you have questions about kitten care? Contact us, your Rockwall, TX pet hospital, today!