Common Bad Kitten Behavior – How to Discipline a Kitten

Cats are certainly one of the most wonderful pets to have, providing us with plenty of entertainment as they romp and play, get into mischief and some outright silly situations. It is the mischief that many owners worry about, 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 annoying comments include references to spanking the poor little things!

Perhaps because human beings are generally raised with a discipline that often translates to a system of reward and punishment, they believe it applies to animals as it does to children.

Reward and punishment are rapidly losing their acceptability in a good training environment, however, as people are beginning to notice that it is less effective with animals. For that to be useful at all, the subject must have the ability to learn to make judgments about his or her own behavior. This requires the ability to use logic and time to think things through. Animals do not do this. They live in the moment, in the “now.” Yes, they may remember that certain actions have certain consequences, and they can learn from that. But if we are supposed to be smarter than animals, then we have to decide that logic and thinking are things.

You must NEVER use physical force, including spanking, on a kitten. It is not necessary, and can cause injuries, sometimes death. In fact, hitting any pet is never necessary. Try using a reward system without a reward system instead.

Caring owners and patients can easily and lovingly treat the following common bad cat behaviors:

1. Do not use the litter box. Under normal circumstances, this should never be a problem. Cats are taught by their mothers how to use the sand. If a little cat is not familiar with sand, or kitty litter, this is usually because the little guy was taken from his mother too soon. Puppies need to be with their mothers for at least 3 months – 12 weeks – but this is not usually the way it is done. People want the pleasure of learning their own kitten from the earliest possible time. Some even get a huge bang out of a bottle feeding them, but this is only logical if the kitten has been orphaned and no suitable lender can be found.

If you have an orphaned kitten, you will have to be another mother and train her to use a litter box. It’s not difficult. Simply put the kitten in the box shortly after eating or drinking, and gently stroke the buttocks, speaking softly to encourage it. If you have other cats, let the kittens watch the older ones using the box. Cats learn by observation and imitation.

Probably the most important thing any cat or small cat owner can do to make sure his pet will continue to use the litter box is to keep it clean at all times.

2. Scratching furniture. Little cats have to scratch. They can’t help not doing it. It’s up to you to provide the right environment for them to stretch their toes and exercise their front legs and paws. If they are excluded at this time, it can affect the normal development of leg and paw muscles. However, banning an adult cat has even more profound consequences and some cats never overcome them. Provide a scratch post or pad, and encourage them to use it by being calm and happy every time they do. Don’t bother with catnip yet; kittens are not sensitive to it until they are much older, if at all. Some cats seem to not notice catnip. If you catch your little cat scratching something he shouldn’t, just pick it up and take it to the mail. Don’t shout, don’t hit, and don’t get angry. This only teaches you that you can be unpredictable and upset. They rarely link their actions to your response.

3. Getting into things. Every young person loves it and needs to explore. This is how they learn what is in their world and how to navigate it. If they are not allowed to learn things like this, their social or even survival skills will be stunned. However, as their guardians, it is our responsibility to make sure they stay safe while having a good time as they learn. With kittens, we need to provide plenty of toys, hides, climbing opportunities, and most of all, together time, where they learn to trust and interact with you. Remember to be gentle and considerate. Never play rough with a small cat, or you’ll be responsible for creating a biting little monster. It’s cute and not too painful to suffer with their claws and teeth at 6 weeks old, but you don’t want to wonder what happened to your light ball of fluff at 2 years old and drawing blood .

Next, once they’re old enough to jump on countertops, it’s time to tease that in the buds, or you may never stop them. The most effective tactics seem to be related to loud noises. Never strike a small cat off a counter. It could seriously injure him. You can continually lift it off and put it back on the floor, but most cats don’t seem to get it. Instead, make a loud noise. Slap the counter with something flat … a paddle, maybe … or use a can of compressed air that blows a very high horn. Sometimes just a blast of air will do the trick.

If a small cat environment is interesting enough – and safe – they will be less likely to run into things that don’t bother them. Owners can help by “stopping small children” of their home and protecting any possessions they want to keep intact.

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