New kittens can be a source of joy for the entire family. Here are a few quick tips to ensure a well-trained and well-behaved kitten:
The most important thing to do with a new kitten is to confine her to a small room such as a bathroom. Place the food and the litter box at opposite sides of the room and spend as much time as possible in the room with the kitten. This can last from a few days to a couple weeks.
If you have other cats, make sure to very gradually extend the number of rooms available to the new kitten to avoid fights and behavioral problems.
Socialize your kitty early! Kittens are in a “sensitive stage” from 3 to 9 weeks—this is when their brains are primed for attachment. Kitten “gentling”—or daily gentle handling and cuddling for the first 10 weeks of life—is important to create a gentle, friendly adult cat.
Cats like things clean! Not cleaning the litter box satisfactorily will lead to a soiled house. Plan to clean the box frequently.
Never hit or physically punish a kitten—it can lead to an aggressive cat. Instead, you should be a source of clear and consistent control. Make sure to encourage and praise good behavior. Cats are generally very responsive to food rewards (although treats should never make up more than 10% of a cat’s diet).
Remember that what you teach your kitten now is how she will act later as a full-grown cat. If you don’t want her on counters later, don’t let her on counters now. Allowing things “sometimes” only confuses the cat. Be consistent with house rules!
Always provide one or more scratching posts and praise the kitten for using them. This necessary outlet for scratching will prevent the destruction of furniture!