Kitten care is important since it can impact how a cat reacts to certain situations as he gets older. For example, many cats don’t like to be picked up, which may be caused by bad experiences that cat had when younger. Following are some tips to keep in mind when interacting with your kitten.
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Handling and Picking Up Your Kitten
Pick up a kitten by putting one hand underneath his chest and the other around his hind legs. This supports his entire body. Turn him toward you so he can cling to clothing for extra security.
Don’t pick up a kitten by the scruff of the neck as this puts too much strain on its body and internal organs. Only mother cats should pick up kittens by the scruff of the neck, and even they only do this when the kitten is very tiny.
Children will often play with a kitten by picking it up just by its forelegs or even by its tail. Teach all members of the family to treat a kitten very gently.
Accustom your kitten to being handled all over his head and body, particularly if he’s long-coated and must be groomed daily. Make handling a pleasure for your kitten by being gentle. Soon he should allow you to look inside his ears and mouth without flinching or trying to bite you.
Be patient and combine the serious examination with stroking or scratching the top of his head, areas which are sensitive to touch and will give a pleasurable sensation to the kitten.
Include Training in Kitten Care
Kittens learn quickly, but you will need lots of patience! Make sure training sessions are fun for all concerned. Short (15 minutes) and frequent periods of training are better than long ones now and again.
Kittens can be trained to come when called. Put your kitten across the room from where you are and call its name, using a fairly high, clear voice, followed by the command ‘come’. When it obeys, make a big fuss of it and offer a small titbit as a reward.
Teaching Your Kitten to Get In and Out of Carrier
An important aspect of training is teaching your kitten to go willingly into his carrying box or basket. Make this a special event by putting a favorite plaything or treat into the carrier, shut the kitten in for a short while, then open the lid and make a great fuss of it. Turning the carrier into part of a game will pay dividends when you need to take your kitten to the vet or on a trip.
Once your kitten is comfortable getting in and out of his carrier, start taking him for short car rides. Limt them to 10 minutes at first, then gradually increase the time. Vary the location and make it somewhere he might like to go, such as a pet supply store. This will show him car rides can be fun, and not limited to trips to the vet.
Keep the carrier out in plain sight rather than bringing it out only when it’s time for a car trip. This will show him the carriar is simply part of the landscape and not to be feared.
Some kittens respond to training as ‘retrievers’ and, with very little encouragement, will fetch such things as catnip mice, paper balls, and spidery toys made from twisted pipe-cleaners.
Correcting Kitten Behavior
As the kitten gets older, you will find that a clap of the hands accompanying the word ‘no’ when he misbehaves proves a kind, effective method of training.
It’s natural for kittens to jump up on high places, or scratch. If you don’t want your kitten to do certain things, make that clear from the beginning with a firm ‘no’. Provide alternatives whenever possible. Have a cat tree near and redirect him to it as an acceptable option for his climbing instincts.
When he scratches the furniture, correct the behavior and redirect him to a scratcher as the acceptable alternative. Be consistent with the correction and the appropriate alternative. He’ll quickly learn what areas are off limits and which are not.
Kittens are very sensitive to criticism, so don’t be too harsh. Correction should be firm but gentle. Kittens not only hear the words we say, but also our tone of voice. Do not yell at your kitten, as it can scare him.
Scolding a kitten for any misdemeanour after the event is meaningless – he will simply not understand why you are cross. Providing high surfaces such as cat towers gives cats the opportunity to experience height appropriately.
Providing good kitten care will help him grow into a happy, well-adjusted feline member of your family.