How to train a kitten to play gently - Cat training tips
How to Teach Your Kitten to Be Calm and Relaxed
Bringing a new kitten into the family is always a fun time. Generally, they are full of energy and extremely playful making for many happy moments with their antics and general sense of curiosity. At times you may become exasperated with their constant motion and activity. There are some steps you can take to help your kitty become more calm and relaxed while still maintaining the fun of its youthful spunk and vigor.
Preparing the Kitten for Handling
Pick the right age.Kittens are most easily socialized between the ages of two to seven weeks. This means that the kitten is more likely to accept new animals, peoples, and situations during this age range. Although most respectable mother cat owners won’t separate the kittens from the mother until the age of eight weeks, this falls outside of the proper time frame. This means that it is typically the original owner's job to socialize the kittens while she is still with the litter and her mother.
- If you know you are going to get a cat before this time period passes, visit the litter and mother to make sure your future kitten is socialized to humans and to you.
Adopt a socialized kitten.When you adopt a kitten from a home after this time period or if you adopt from a shelter or animal society, you need to ensure the kitten is socialized to humans. Make sure the kitten you choose will come up to you, showing curiosity and wanting your attention. She shouldn’t hiss or raise her fur at you after the first few minutes of meeting you.
- Be cautious of kittens that do this and make sure she warms up to you.
Take your time.When you are choosing a kitten to adopt, you need to take your time before you take her home. This will give you ample time to see if her temperament matches yours. Plan to spend at least an hour getting to know your potential kitten candidate to get a true understanding of her personality. Pet her and love on her to see if she is okay being handled and to ensure she likes humans.
- You’ll know the kitten is truly comfortable with you when she begins to purr while in your arms.
Help with the transition.When you first bring your kitten home, expect her to be shy and cautious for a few days. The experience of changing locations is a total disruption in her life. It makes sense she would be uncertain and shy at the beginning as she is adjusting to her new home.
- You can help this transition by asking the previous owner for a blanket or towel the kitten, her littermates, and her mother used. This will provide a familiar scent for her to connect to and help put her at ease in her new home.
- If you adopt from a shelter, ask if you can take home the blanket she used while she was there or if there is any blanket from her litter there as well, to provide the same scent.
Balance your attention.When you get a new kitten, you want to play with her and give you attention all the time. Instead of doing this, balance your attention. Give your kitten attention, but don’t constantly handling her. If she wants to get away from you, put her down and let her run away. She will eventually seek you out for attention.
- Pay extra attention to this problem if you have children, especially young ones. They won't understand the concept of letting the kitten have its space. Make sure you supervise any interaction your children have with the kitten so neither the child nor kitty get injured or become frustrated.
Providing an Energy Outlet
Play with her.After your kitten has become comfortable in her new home, start playing with her. This will help burn off all her extra energy. Try buying multiple different toys that are good for your kitten. For example, try feather toys on the end of wands, which are fun and interactive toys for both you and your kitten.
- Toys that your kitten can bat or chase around are also good options. Try toy mice and balls. You can even use a pen flashlight or cat laser pointer, which is great fun for your kitten as she tries to catch the light.
Play the right way.Your cat needs to be played with for a certain amount of time in order for your cat to expel enough energy. Try to play with her at least twice a day for 15 minutes or longer each time. This will also help you bond with your new kitten and make her feel safe and secure.
- Neverlet your kitten play with string, yarn, or rubber bands. These objects can be swallowed, which can lead to severe or even deadly intestinal obstructions.
- Avoid letting them play with your feet or hands. This may be cute when she is young, but it can become a serious problem when she gets older. If a kitten starts to play with your hands or feet, substitute one of her toys and let her attack it instead.
Buy useful exercise spots.If you don’t have time to play with your kitten every day or if she is still rambunctious after these sessions, buy a scratching or climbing post. These can be towers or posts and can be vertical or horizontal. You kitten will use the scratch posts to leave her scent behind and to play on.
- Climbing towers will also give your kitten exercise as well as give her a safe place to observe everything going on in the house.
- Try placing it by a window, which is an excellent spot to see outside activities.
Deterring Bad Behavior
Use cat pheromones.Kittens are often hyper because of their overactive hormones. You can try appeasing this with cat pheromones such as Feliway. These are typically used to deter cats from spraying unwanted areas, but it can also be used to calm you kitten down.
- The spray contains the chemicals naturally produced by cats, which is why is helps to calm them. Feliway is available in wipes, sprays, or diffusers.
Try deterring systems.When your kitten is overly hyper, she may try to jump on furniture she isn’t supposed to. To deter this behavior, try a motion detecting spray such as the "SssCat" unit. The spray will emit a gush of compressed air whenever your kitten gets near an area she isn’t supposed to.
- You can also try attaching double-stick tape to surfaces as well. The stickiness will irritate your kitten and deter her from being on that surface.
- Although it is a popular method, using spray bottles of water as punishment only occurs when you are around. This can be less effective because your cat may associate the punishment with you, which can make the kitten grow fearful of you.
- While your cat is learning to not jump on tables and countertops, put all food items away so she can’t get to them.
Provide enough scratching surfaces.A hyper kitten may manifest her energy by scratching on your furniture, walls, and other stationary surfaces. To keep you kitten from scratching these things, you need to have plenty of appropriate scratching surfaces. Scratching posts should allow them to stretch outward or upward, so buy different kinds in different shapes and sizes.
- Different kittens will prefer different surfaces, so try a few to find out which she likes best.
- Make the scratching posts prominent in familiar places in your home. Make other places, such as couches and other furniture, less attractive by placing double stick tape on them.
Give her enough space.You may want to spend all your free time with your new kitten, especially when you first get her. However, kitten need space and time to themselves. Give her time to sleep, play, and look out the window. If you continually bother her, she will hide to avoid you.
- Learn to understand your kitten’s cues, which will signal when she’s tired of playing. This can include attacking you then running away to hide to cries of distress.
QuestionCan I substitute catnip for Feliway? My cats always want to play at night, which annoys my family.
Veterinarian, Royal College of Veterinary SurgeonsVeterinarian, Royal College of Veterinary SurgeonsExpert AnswerNo. Feliway is a synthetic feline pheromone which has a soothing and calming effect on cats. Catnip is a stimulant (in cats that are sensitive to it), and will make the cat even more hyper and excited.Thanks!
QuestionMy cat wants to play at night and wakes me by biting my face. I play with her through the day. What can I do?
Veterinarian, Royal College of Veterinary SurgeonsVeterinarian, Royal College of Veterinary SurgeonsExpert AnswerYou have to be certain her efforts to wake you won't be rewarded with attention, so if necessary shut her out of the bedroom. Continue to play at regular intervals with her during the day, and make sure she is actively engaging and running after toys. If she is ad lib fed, switch to set mealtimes, with one a couple of hours before bedtime. Quiet the house down about half an hour before bedtime, and make any interactions with her quiet and sleepy. Tired, and with a full stomach, she should learn to settle down.Thanks!
QuestionHow do you calm a cat?
Veterinarian, Royal College of Veterinary SurgeonsVeterinarian, Royal College of Veterinary SurgeonsExpert AnswerThe best way is to back off and give the cat space. Whether the cat is agitated because they are over-excited or fearful, withdrawing will help. In both instances, this removes the source of the agitation (the playmate or the thing they're fearful of) which allows the cat to calm down.Thanks!
QuestionWhy is my kitten being so aggressive?
Veterinarian, Royal College of Veterinary SurgeonsVeterinarian, Royal College of Veterinary SurgeonsExpert AnswerIf the kitten didn't meet many people when tiny, then they may be poorly socialized and be aggressive. Just be patient and gentle with the kitten, and you will win their trust. Some kittens appear aggressive but are actually over-excited and bite hands thinking they are toys. For these kittens, redirect that play behavior onto toys and objects that are appropriate for the kitten to claw or bite.Thanks!
QuestionHow do I get my kitten to stop biting?
Veterinarian, Royal College of Veterinary SurgeonsVeterinarian, Royal College of Veterinary SurgeonsExpert AnswerAvoid using your hands as toys, as an over-excited kitten will bite them. Instead, use remote toys such as a wing-on-a string. If the kitten still bites you, make a distressed sound and let your hand go limp.Thanks!
QuestionHow much sleep is a kitten supposed to get?
Veterinarian, Royal College of Veterinary SurgeonsVeterinarian, Royal College of Veterinary SurgeonsExpert AnswerKittens spend a lot of time asleep. An average of 20 hours per day is quite normal. Also, be aware that kittens tend to be most active at night...at precisely the same time you want to rest. Again, this is normal but if it's interrupting your sleep, be sure to play with the kitten during the day so they are tired at night.Thanks!
QuestionHow do I teach my older kitten not to steal the younger one's food?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYou can try physically moving the kitten when it tries to steal food or spraying it with a spray bottle. If you cannot be present to monitor the feedings, another option is to feed the younger kitten separately in another room or enclosed space.Thanks!
QuestionHow do you make 6 kittens calm at once?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYou don't. Just let them play and keep them near their mother. She will calm them.Thanks!
QuestionHow do I get a cat into a cat harness?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerSome cats won't let you put a harness on them unless they trust you. If they do trust you enough, you should put the harness on without the leash first. Once they are comfortable in the harness, you can put the leash on.Thanks!
QuestionMy kitten has just turned 16 weeks old, and sometimes she bites me gently. What can I do?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerGive her a toy and play with her. It's just a phase and will pass very quickly.Thanks!
How do I introduce my old cat to a new kitten?
- Indoor cats tend to be need more attention and play time than outdoor cats. They enjoy running after a ball or high jumping when you play with a stick with a feather attached.
- Remember to treat your kitten with respect. She is an animal and you cannot totally control her. However, you can have a lot of fun with her.
- Kittens have sharp claws and teeth, which can cause them to accidently scratch you. Take care when you handle them. Learn how to cut their nails or take them to the veterinarian every two weeks to have them cut.
- Avoid shouting at your kitten. All it does is scare them.
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