Training and Socialisation

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Litter Training

Most kittens learn very quickly to use a litter tray. They have a natural instinct to cover up their toilet so will automatically look for something they can dig up.

Place the tray in a quiet corner of the house. When the kitten looks ready to use it (they squat down with their tail raised) pick him up and place him in the litter tray.

Telling him off for doing it in the wrong place will just confuse him. Next time he goes he’ll just make sure he does it somewhere out of your sight!

You can get covered or open trays. Some cats prefer the privacy of a covered tray particularly if there is nowhere quiet to put the tray. They also stop litter and faeces going over the side of the tray and top of the range ones have filters in the lid to help reduce any bad smells.

There is a wide range of cat litter available, from fuller’s earth to wood based pellets. All are suitable, but your cat may prefer one to another.

Socialisation

When you get a new kitten it is important for them interact with all the different people and animals that they’re likely to come across in their life. Obviously for the first few days you don’t want to swamp them and it is important to give them time to themselves and an area where they can get away from everything (especially small children and playful dogs).

Try to make any introductions as enjoyable and playful as possible, giving them plenty of positive encouragement and using toys and objects they’re familiar with as re-assurance.

Whilst being held most cats are happier if they’re stroked at the same time, so start by restraining them gently with one hand and stroking them with the other. Talking quietly to them in a reassuring tone helps as well. If they start to struggle it’s best to let them go and try again later when they are more relaxed.

Try to introduce your kitten to as many people as possible, although don’t force things if they become nervous or stressed.

Some cats prefer to bond through regular playing with toys. This can work just as well as handling, although they’ll probably never be a cuddly cat. In any case frequent sessions of play with everyone one in the house will quickly integrate your kitten into the family.

Play and Toys

Cats are born hunters, spending up to six hours a day in the wild stalking prey. In the domestic situation play becomes a vital outlet for all that natural instinct as well as being a great way to form a strong relationship with your pet. It can also be the only way to give a fat or lazy cat exercise. Try to set aside at least 10-15 minutes a day for games, more if you have an indoor cat.

There are huge numbers of toys for cats in the pet shops, some your cat will love, unfortunately some will be a complete waste of their pocket money! Feathery or furry toys on string, elastic or on fishing rods can be great fun. Catnip mice are often a success. Some cats love chasing the light from a pen torch or laser pointer around the carpet. Home-made toys such as balls of aluminium foil can be just as engaging. However be very careful with elastic bands, string, cotton, pins and needles. A lot of cats love chasing, chewing and then often swallowing them with resulting severe intestinal problems.

Meeting other pets

Dogs:- Control the first few meetings by having the dog on a lead. Try not to make a fuss of either of them so they can sort out between themselves who is boss. After there is no sign of fear or aggression it should be fine to leave them together.

Rabbits and Guinea Pigs:- It is best to always supervise kittens with rodents. Although they can get on very well, they can easily scratch or distress each other, even when playing.

Other Cats:- Initially it is best to let the two cats smell each other while not actually being able to see each other, so while keeping them in different rooms swap over their feeding bowls, beds, litter trays or toys. After a few days let them see each other through a glass or wire partition (a puppy training crate works well). Once any signs of aggression seem to have stopped then you can risk letting them out in the same area but ensure they have safe areas they can escape to. It can take a long time for them to get along and it is important to give the original cat as much fuss and attention as possible while things are settling down.