Tips for When You Begin to Raise a Kitten
Kittens are without a doubt some of the most adorable domestic animals. Continually playful, purring as loud as they can and that moment they choose to trust you and sit in your lap for a while, what an exciting moment for all cat lovers.
What needs to be kept in mind is that until about 6 to 8 months ALL kittens are pretty much exactly the same. Their personalities are still forming, though they will have the inherent traits of their breed of course. This is a critical time for training! Yes training. If you want to be able to walk your cat on a leash, this is the easiest time to do so. Want to be sure the kitten won’t grow up with weird areas they don’t like touched, be sure to pet them everywhere. Handle their paws so you can trim them later, touch their bellies and gently teach them what ‘no’ and ‘let go’ means if they nip you or hang on (I find a light flick or pat on the nose does the trick, please share your methods in the comment section below!).
My point is cats do understand and they are fully capable of being trained well and being trained poorly, especially the highly intelligent breeds such as Abyssinian, Tabbies, Siamese, and Bangles to name a few.
A Few things to consider when raising a kitten:
Do not use your hands as toys!
This is probably the number one mistake. It’s all cute while they are kittens to rough house with them using your hands but what you are training them to know is that either your hands are toys to attack or that your hands are there to harass them and should be attacked. In either case you risk scratches and biting by and adult cat which hurts all the more. This can be retrained out of them but that takes time and often at the expense of your visitors getting scratched as well.
Touch them everywhere and as much as possible.
If you don’t want a cat with some weird spot they don’t like touched, you can lessen the risk by handling them as much as possible, and not just you, but socializing them with other people as well. Which brings me to the next point. Not always a 100% cure all, but as they learn to trust you more, it’s not much of an issue.
Kittens and cats also need to be socializing, just like puppies but just in a different way but you certainly can’t just take your cat to the park. When people are over if the cat is curious and your guests don’t mind, let your cat be around, even if it is just to watch from their cat tree.
Start to train them now.
This is the best time to train them. Just like puppies, the earlier the start the better. Teach them the rules. They can learn that they can climb their cat tree but not your kitchen counters. Put a collar on your kitten. Those that come from a shelter will probably already be used to them, but those who are rescued from the street will probably freak out at first. Bring out a toy to help distract them from it and that often helps them get used to it faster. Now’s the time to put them into a harness if you are an apartment dweller and want to take your cat outside and be controlled. I taught Bagheera this when he was 3 years old. It takes patience and time, but eventually the desire to explore will get the best of them and they will accept and get used to it.
If you are new to raising a kitten I highly recommend branching out and reading some literature or find a fellow cat lover who has an awesome cat that they have raised since a kitten and see what they did.
No need to reinvent the wheel. When you raise your kitten right, you will have a secure and well-adjusted cat!
Life, Love and Cats!