Cats are known and loved for their self-confidence and strength of will, which – let’s admit it – quickly leads to the owner acting as “Your Majesty’s” staff. Pet cats are not dogs and have no interest in being subordinate to the two-legged owner. But this is not about training, even if many cats can be taught tricks. Kittens should learn a few basic things. Learn here what you should teach your kitten.
Copied from nature: How do cats raise their kittens?
The kitten receives the most important lessons for later cat life within the first weeks of life from its mother – through imitation and guidance – and interaction with its siblings. This is why it is so important for a kitten to remain in the birth household for at least twelve, ideally thirteen weeks to be fully socialised. The elementary phase is between the sixth and twelfth week of the kitten’s life. When interacting with its mother, the kitten learns how to clean itself, eat from the bowl and even what a litter box is for and how to use it.
In addition, the kitten begins to interpret the body language of his fellow cats and to react appropriately to it. When playing and roughhousing with mother and siblings, the kitten practices typical movements, tries out its strength – in short, it learns to behave like a real cat. If necessary, the mother cat will take typical disciplinary measures by using her paws if the offspring get too wild.
As a human, it is best to use sound signals and the reward principle when dealing with the kitten. A helpful tip: In order to give the little ones an audible warning, the mother cat makes a snapping sound in the back of her throat – humans can adapt this sound to admonish the kitten. In “cat language”, a gentle blow in the face also means a command to cease and desist.
What role do humans play in training the kitten?
Cats respond to positive reinforcement. The first way to gain a kitten’s trust is through the stomach. If you give a treat for a desired behaviour, the kitten will quickly understand the connection and seek your closeness. Take the opportunity to stroke the kitten. Extensive cuddling and exciting games are also very popular. Once the ice between you and the kitten has been broken, you can begin to train the kitten. Rule number one – for you, not for the kitten: Never shout at or punish the animal! Fear is absolutely counterproductive in kitten training.
The most important command: No!
Living together with the kitten is easiest when the animal knows exactly what it is allowed to do and where it should go when called. In contrast to a dog, where more commands are part of the basic training, two “commands” are sufficient for the cat – for example, the word “No!” to stop misbehaviour in time, and calling the cats name to get the animal’s attention.
Methods for training
– Admonish: If the little kitten is about to do something forbidden, comment on it with clear commands (for example “No!” or “Off!”). You do not have to shout: That frightens the kitten. It senses when you are angry anyway.
– Immediately: this command must be given – otherwise the kitten will not associate the vocal command with its current action. The time window for this is only one to two seconds!
– Praise the kitten when it stops what it is doing. This will motivate the kitten to follow the rules.
– Remove the kitten if it is slow on the uptake and does not understand that it should not behave that way. Put the kitten in a different place.
How to break the kitten’s habit of scratching and biting
When a kitten sharpens its claws, it is not out of naughtiness. Cats mark their territory with scent glands on their paws and at the same time keep their paws in order. It would be too much to ask a kitten to immediately understand the difference between a scratching post and a cupboard wall.
Try these tips to stop scratching and biting
– Reward the cat when you observe it scratching in a permitted place. Comment on forbidden places with “No!” and consistently put the kitten in the correct scratching spot.
– Cats do not like the smell of mint oil. You can use this oil on furniture you don’t want your kitten near.
– If the kitten starts to bite your fingers and toes, stop it with a consistent “no” command. The kitten does not bite out of aggression, but as part of the typical hunting game of the species.
Can you train a kitten to become house-trained?
As a rule, a kitten has learned to use the litter box from its mother. However, the change to a new toilet after moving into a new home can confuse the kitten.
Here’s how to solve the toilet problem:
– Choose the cat litter that the kitten knows from the birth household. Switch to a different brand later, gradually if necessary.
– Initially, use an open litter tray that the kitten can easily get in and out of by itself.
– Place the litter tray in a suitable, quiet place, preferably in a corner.
– Show the kitten where the litter tray is – put it in there without further ado. This is usually enough to get the kitten to relieve themselves. You may be able to encourage the kitten to scratch in the litter.
– Praise the kitten when it has done its business.
Cats quickly find out what they are allowed to do and what they are not – at least as long as the human is watching. When the place is quiet, they will explore forbidden zones. It also happens that cats – obviously willingly – break rules in order to interact with their owner. If the otherwise well-behaved kitten suddenly throws things off the shelf, get to the bottom of it – the animal probably has a reason for its “naughty” behaviour.
Teach your kitten the basics and look forward to a harmonious life together.
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