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Common Naughty Kitten Behavior – How to Discipline a Kitten
Kittens are definitely one of the cutest pets to own, providing us with lots of fun as they roam and play, getting into mischief and some silly situations. It’s the nastiness that worries many owners and they feel they have to control it somehow.
Animal experts, including veterinarians, are often bombarded with questions from pet owners about “disciplining” their new kitten. Some of the most disturbing comments include references to hitting the poor little things!
Perhaps because people are generally raised with discipline that often translates into a system of reward and punishment, they believe that this applies to animals as it does to children.
Reward and punishment are quickly losing their acceptability in a good training environment, however, as people are beginning to notice that it is less effective with animals. For this to be at all useful, the subject must have the ability to learn to make judgments about his own behavior. This requires the ability to use logic and spend time thinking things through. Animals don’t do that. They live in the moment, in the “now”. Yes, they can remember that certain actions produce certain results and can learn from that. But if we’re supposed to be smarter than animals, then it’s up to us to be the ones who use logic and think things through.
Never use physical force, including hitting, on a kitten. It’s simply not necessary and can cause injury, sometimes even death. In fact, hitting any animal is never necessary. Instead, try using a reward vs. no reward system.
The following common misbehaviors in kittens can be easily treated with gentleness and love by caring and patient owners:
1. Not using the litter box. Under normal circumstances, this should not be a problem at all. Kittens are taught by their mothers how to use the sand. If a kitten is unfamiliar with litter or litter, it’s usually because the kitten was taken from its mother too soon. Kittens should be with their mothers for at least 3 months – 12 weeks – but this is usually not the case. People want the pleasure of teaching their kitten on their own from the earliest possible time. Some even get a loud noise from the bottle that feeds them, but this is only logical if the kitten has been orphaned and no suitable replacement can be found.
If you have an orphaned kitten, you will need to be a surrogate mother and teach it to use a litter box. It’s not hard. Simply place the kitten in the box shortly after it has eaten or drunk and pat the rear end gently, speaking softly to encourage it. If you have other cats, let the kitten look at the older ones using the box. Cats learn by observing and imitating.
Perhaps the most important thing any cat or kitten owner can do to ensure that their pet will continue to use the litter box is to always keep it clean.
2. Scratching the furniture. Kittens absolutely must be scratched. They can’t help but do it. It’s up to you to provide the right environment for them to stretch their toes and exercise their legs and front paws. If they are removed at this time, it can affect the normal development of leg and paw muscles. However, spaying an adult cat has even more profound results, and some cats never get over it. Provide a scratching post or pad and encourage them to use it, being calm and happy every time they do it. Don’t bother with cats just yet; kittens are not susceptible to it until they are much older, if at all. Some cats don’t seem to notice catnip. If you catch your kitty scratching something it shouldn’t, just pick it up and take it to the post office. Do not shout, do not hit and do not get angry. This only teaches him that you can be unpredictable and scary. They rarely connect their action with your reaction.
3. Getting into things. All young people want and need to explore. This is how they learn what’s in their world and how to navigate it. If they are not allowed to learn things this way, their social skills or even survival skills will be stunted. However, as their guardians, it is up to us to ensure that they stay safe while having a good time while learning. With kittens, we need to provide plenty of toys, hiding places, climbing opportunities, and best of all, together time where they learn to trust and interact with you. Just remember to be gentle and considerate. Never play rough with a kitten, or you’ll be responsible for creating a little biting monster. It’s cute and not too painful to put up with their claws and teeth at 6 weeks old, but you don’t want to wonder what happened to your fluffy ball of fluff when he’s 2 years old and bleeding.
Next, once they’re old enough to throw themselves on the ceiling, it’s time to catch them first, or you may never stop them. The most effective tactics seem to be related to loud noises. Never hit a kitten off the counter. It could hurt him badly. You can repeatedly pick it up and put it back on the floor, but most cats don’t seem to get it. Instead, make a loud noise. Hit the counter with something flat…perhaps a paddle…or use a can of compressed air blowing a very loud horn. Sometimes just a blast of air will do the trick.
If a kitten’s environment is interesting enough — and safe — they’ll be less likely to get into things that don’t bother them. Homeowners can help by “improving” their home and protecting any assets they want to keep intact.
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