Cats, like humans, are better trained while young. Kittens can be trained, but not in the same way as dogs. The basic training includes teaching your kitten where to eat and drink, familiarizing it with its own litter box, and teaching it what is “appropriate play”. Here are some of the cat behaviors you want to avoid, and how to train the kittens so they will grow up as “civilized” cats.
- Eating and drinking off the kitchen sink, the table top and anywhere else other than its own food and water bowl. Since cats can jump high and make little noise, you may be caught by surprise when your kitty cat has eaten your lunch before you even had the chance to cook it. To prevent your kitten from developing this bad habit, place aluminum foil on surfaces near the kitchen counter where it is most likely to jump off from. Cats get irritated with the sound of foil when they step on it, so this will keep your kitty off for a while, until it realizes that the kitchen sink is not a fun place to be. You can also use those rags with a rubber underside, and place it wrong side up, where the pointy rubber surface sticks out. Cats also do not like the feel of pointed objects on their paws. You may also do this to avoid the kittens from going near potted plants and chewing on the leaves.
- Scratching the furniture. Cats scratch surfaces to trim their nails, and also to play. You can also cover the furniture with aluminum foil, and instead provide your kitten with a scratching pole. This way, the little kitty will not have any urge to scratch other surfaces. You can buy one or make your own scratch pole. Use a long wooden stick, preferably more than one foot, place it vertically on a secure base, and wrap it with rope. Your kitten will be delighted with its new toy. Always have a scratch pole until your kitten grows into an adult cat.
- Peeing and pooping everywhere. Toilet training for cats is easy, as some people claim, as long as there is soil. However, if you have potted plants in the house, or your backyard is bare soil, then that will mean the cat gets to “go” everywhere. While your kitten is young and new, place it in its litter box after its regular meal, and after it has woken up. Just like humans, it will feel a need to pee after it has slept. Make sure you keep the litter box clean after every “session”, to encourage your kitty to go back later on. Kittens also do not want a smelly “toilet”, and also to avoid it from getting sick or spreading germs around the house.
- Scratching and biting during play time. While it is cute for kittens to look “scary” and “wild” while at play, it is best not to encourage your kitten to play harshly. This will eventually hurt you, literally, since cats develop rather sharp claws, and tough skin. Humans have more sensitive skin that cannot tolerate a cat’s scratch. If your kitten shows too much aggressive behavior at play, either cage it for a while, isolate it or totally ignore it, withdrawing affection. This will be a sign for your kitten to realize its mistake.
Kittens, like human babies, do not respond well to harsh punishments, but improve their behavior when rewarded. Give your kitten a soft, affectionate pat when it shows good behavior.