Whilst kittens don’t need training in how to be cute, they can need help when it comes to going to the toilet in the right place – and the sooner you start to train them the better. Surprisingly it’s never too early to train your cat, and if you read on you’ll discover some tips and tricks from us to help you through it! Just by following these simple daily steps you can house train your kitten in no time.
It’s also important to keep your kitten active. Just as humans need to exercise to stay in shape, kittens need their playtime in order to stay physically and mentally stimulated. Playtime is a great time to enjoy your kitten and bond with it, too. It should be fun for both of you, because it’s a great way to get to know your new friend better.
This section aims to teach you how to house train your kitten, as well as the importance of exercise. You’ll also find a few tips for making exercise fun.
Begin training your kitten early
Begin training kittens as soon as possible by introducing them to new experiences while they’re still young enough to take everything in their stride.
This means in the future, they will be able to approach new situations fearlessly.
Remember, whenever kittens encounter something new, act confidently as if there is nothing to worry about. Smothering them, or reassuring them constantly, will only reinforce their fears.
They might also learn that they get lots of attention when feigning a frightened response! A calm, matter-of-fact attitude works best.
Repeatedly say your kitten’s name during enjoyable experiences, for example, when they are eating or when you’re petting them.
Never shout your kitten’s name if you’re angry. It’s important for cats to associate their name with good things. For instance, if you have an outdoor cat, you want them to come running as soon as you call.
Teach kittens where they should scratch so they don’t use your furniture instead!
Show your kitten their scratching post and dangle a toy along it, encouraging them to play.
- If necessary, lift your kitten’s forepaws gently and make downwards, scratching motions on the post. Your kitten should soon come to do this alone.
- Putting some catnip or Feliway on the post may also encourage them to scratch.
- The more kittens scratch, the more likely they are to scratch again in the future, as the post will smell of their scent.
Using a litter tray is against your cat’s instincts. Don’t give kittens any reason to avoid using the litter box. Keep the box clean and place it in a convenient location.
- Most kittens are generally litter-trained from an early age as they copy their mothers’ habits.
- Choose a litter box that is easy for kittens to use. If necessary, improvise for the first few weeks with a shallow, disposable container.
- Keep the litter tray away from your cat’s food in an easily accessible but private area. Avoid damp, dark, inconvenient or noisy areas.
- Choose a litter tray that is deep enough to keep kittens from scattering litter when they dig. It should also be large enough so a cat can make a complete turn.
- Remove soiled litter at least daily. Empty the tray completely and wash it with hot water and detergent every week. Avoid disinfectants as some are toxic to pets.
Dos and don’ts
- Do be patient when training kittens; they have a lot to learn.
- Do focus on rewarding good behaviour and let less welcome behaviour disappear by itself.
- Never hit your kitten. Instead, interrupt annoying behaviour with a firm “No!” before directing your kitten to an appropriate activity or some more constructive kitten games.
Playing is a great form of kitten exercise and can help your pet develop their natural hunting instincts.
A healthy kitten is a happy kitten
Kittens start to play from four weeks old, spending most of their time wrestling with other kittens. By the time kittens are seven to eight weeks old, they will transfer their attention from social play with littermates to predatory play with inanimate objects.
How to play with kittens
Playing with your pet every day for just 20 minutes not only provides both physical and mental stimulation but can also strengthen the bond between the two of you.
- Set aside time for at least two good play sessions a day. The best time for kittens is in the early morning or evening.
- Play with your kitten before you go to bed so they will be ready to sleep when you are.
- Always make some toys available to your cat but keep some away for your own playtime together. Interactive play is one the best ways to keep your kitten healthy and responsive to you.
- Indulge your cat’s hunting behaviour, especially with young indoor cats. Play games that involve an element of chasing or pouncing.
- Solitary kittens may play more roughly with their owners. Teach them to control playful nips and scratches.
Here are some tips for making your own cat toys:
- A bucket filled with crumpled paper or ping-pong balls can make a useful distraction. When your kitten attempts to stalk you, throw a ball downstairs for them.
- Leave a large paper bag on the floor for diving into and ripping to pieces. Do not use plastic bags and cut off any handles that can get caught around your cat’s neck.
- Glue several boxes together, linked by peepholes, for kitten hide-and-seek.
- Make a sack of fabric stuffed with dried catnip, a herb which drives some cats wild.
- Try dangling a ‘fishing pole’ toy with feathers or bells at the end of a string.
- After playing, always put toys out of sight to retain their novelty and excitement over time.
Why some cats are more active than others
Some cat breeds have a reputation for being more energetic than others. For example, Siamese, Abyssinian, Oriental and Turkish cats are all known for their vigorous behaviour.
More languid kittens include the Persian, Himalayan, British Shorthair and Ragdoll breeds.
If you find your kitten sleeps all the time, it could just be that they are lazy. Inactive cats make a great lap pet, content to sit while you read or watch TV. As long as they are physically healthy, quiet cats are perfectly normal.
If you’re still concerned, take your cat to the vet for a thorough physical examination.
Subtle problems, such as arthritis or upper respiratory diseases, can often make cats seem lethargic.
Overweight kittens become overweight cats, which have increased risk of lameness, skin problems, bad tempers, behavioural problems and diseases such as diabetes.
Prevention is always better than cure and exercise will help control your kitten’s weight. Invest in some toys, an indoor climbing frame or scratching post and introduce regular play sessions.
Have a look around your home and see what you can do to encourage activity with your kitten. For instance, if your home is split-level, try placing your cat’s food bowl on a different floor from the sleeping area to encourage as much stair-climbing as possible.
We now have a Feline Passport that helps you to provide the best possible health care for your kitten or cat. Please ask us about our Feline Lifestages Program and the Feline Passport!