Dear Dish-It: How Do You Train A Kitten?
I just got a kitten and I have no idea how to train it!
While cats aren't like dogs (dogs are pack animals and their main goal in life is to make their master or leader happy, which is why they are often much easier to train than cats), there's no reason why you can't train your kitten to use her litter box and scratching post and maybe even to obey and respond to certain commands! Plus, it's important that you do take the time to train your kitten while she's still young. Otherwise, it will be really hard for you to groom her or to keep an eye on her health if you don't train her to be handled. Not to mention, do you really want her scratching up your mom's good sofa or chewing up all the plants in the house?!
You can turn your cute little kitten into Superkitty by taking a little extra time NOW to shape the behaviors and personality you want her to have when she grows up to be an adult cat.
A very important rule is to always reward good behavior. So, take a minute to write a list of all the behaviors you want from your kitten, like using the litter box and her scratching post, instead of peeing on your bed and sharpening her claws ion your dad's reading chair. Then, keep your eyes open for your kitten to do these good things and reward her whenever you catch her doing something right. You can give food rewards or treats when she uses the litter box or scratching post, or play with her and her favorite toys playing and be relaxed and happy when you hold and handle her.
If you want your kitten to be relaxed and social around people and other animals as she grows up, you need to give her lots of chances to be around people and other animals when she young - provided that those times are always positive and happy! If she's around someone who yells at her or hurts her, then she may not grow up to trust or like people. Same goes for other animals - if she is always around a dog or other cat that chases her and barks or hisses at her, it's not likely that she's going to love being around dogs or other cats when she's an adult.
Set for Success
Finally, make sure you set your kitten up to succeed. Don't tease or play games that encourage her to bite or claw. Place things that a curious kitten is likely to get into or make a mess of out of reach. Food, plants and shiny objects left on countertops are just too tempting for most kittens. Keep them out of the way and don't give your kitten a chance to mess up!