Training a Kitten

So you’ve brought home a fluffy bundle of love. She’s just gotten all her shots, and has been given a clean bill of health. You even have plans to make sure she gets fixed in a few weeks. She’s bright-eyed and energetic (even when you would wish for her to settle down at 2 o’clock in the morning!), and happy as a clam. She has all the toys she could want, and you even have a cat tree on back order for her when she gets big enough to use it. Sounds idyllic to the cat fancying types, doesn’t it?

And then she starts misbehaving. Either she tears around the house, knocking things over, steals stuff and starts destroying the furniture and generally shatters the equilibrium of the home. Stop right there. Some of you may be thinking that pets, especially young ones, must be treated like their human counterparts. This isn’t so. Far too many owners try to treat their pets like humans, and it just doesn’t go over well at all.

If you want to engender obedience in sweet Fluffy, there are some things you should take to heart when attempting to train her. Also bear in mind that unlike dogs, cats don’t typically go for ‘Do x because of y’ routine. They will usually ignore such methods, frustrating you and probably upsetting them.

When she behaves rambunctiously, she’s doing so because she’s probably bored or lonely, not necessarily malicious or evil. She is attempting to act out instinctual predatory behaviors. It’s up to you to help guide her in the right direction. Go down to her level, play with her, provide toys and interaction – don’t just leave toys for her to explore on her own. At that age, not only are you fostering positive experiences for her, the bonding will help ensure that she stays safe in the home, knowing in whom she can rely for comfort, love and nourishment.

If you want her to do something, you must reinforce the thing with stimuli she’ll find pleasant. The inverse isn’t necessarily true. You ‘should’ help her understand that certain things will manifest an unpleasant result, but, for instance, if she comes meowing and romping at 2 a.m., don’t chase her and let her outside or feed/play with her then. This is more then likely exactly what she wants, so she’ll assume, despite your yelling, that she has done a good thing.

If Fluffy is prone to tearing up the furniture, there are few things you can do to bring about a positive result. First, you have to accept that she ‘will’ stretch, climb and scratch. These are all natural activities for a cat, and things they greatly enjoy doing. In the short term, confining her to a small area, while providing things for her to scratch that ‘are’ safe will suffice. Hanging scratch pads, made of either cork or sisal on your door knobs is one way to encourage her to scratch, just do so appropriately. In the long term, you should monitor what she gets into, and not let her have unsupervised access to the house until you’re comfortable she isn’t going to turn your $ 900 leather sofa into confetti.

These are only a few examples of the trials and tribulations that you may face with your darling Fluffy. But, if you treat her right, reinforcing positive behavior with good things, and misbehavior with gentle yet firm negative reinforcement, she will come to understand and adapt, as all well-mannered cats do. Bearing that in mind, you’re sure to spend years and years together.

When all else fails, a spray bottle is inexpensive and says what you sometimes can’t, especially at 3 o’clock in the morning.

For more great pet information, visit http://www.YourPetYourVetAndYou.com, a blog written by David Jackson, VMD. David’s FREE ebook entitled “Making It Work: A Veterinarian’s Guide to Your Pet’s Health” is available for download on the website. To your Pet health!

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