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How to Handle Kitten and Cat Behavior Issues

Image of a cat and kitten sitting together

Preventing Destructive Behavior in Your Feline Friends

Kittens are fun. Kittens are adorable. Kittens are an endless source of entertainment and undying friendship. As a kitten eventually transform into a cat, it’s best to manage their behavior from the start before they become unruly adults. Whether they’re fun, adorable, or sometimes annoying, kittens and cats are the greatest, and they will love you forever (especially when they’re hungry).

If you’re just starting out with your very first kitten, or a cat, you should take notice of certain feline behaviors, which can lead to unscripted naughtiness and, in some cases, destruction of property. Not all hope is lost, as there are certain methods to stop bad behavior from occurring that can benefit you, and your little fuzzball, in the end.

Kittens and Behavior Issues

For many cat people, it’s often behavior problems that sadly lead to adult cats being dropped off at shelters; the problems are just too complicated for some people to handle. Also, since most people looking for cats tend to prefer kittens, these older cats are often ignored and are less likely to be adopted.

Most people with cats often claim soiling the house, scratching and other aggressive actions as the most common issues they face. However, these types of behaviors are normal for cats, but not to us humans. Kittens don’t realize that this is unacceptable behavior, so some training needs to be implemented to help curb this.

While a kitten will always be curious, rambunctious and unbearably adorable, it’s best to do whatever is possible to prevent bad behavior in their early years before it gets worse as they get older.

Keep Your Kitten Intrigued

Kittens tend to have a greater capacity to adapt to new things a bit more than adult cats. They’re always enthusiastic and overly playful and are willing to accept a new change in scenario or routine. Some kittens can be frightened by new things, so it’s best to make them comfortable from the start; you want them to have a positive outlook, especially if they’re very young and everything is new to them. This will help them be less afraid as they get older. Expose your kitten to people of different sizes, genders, ages, or even other pets if you have them. Let them get used to their environment, which will help them grow over time.

Any type of new experience should be incorporated with feeding, or giving treats. One option is to feed them in their carrier; some cats actually find their carrier to be a sanctuary and it certainly make it easy if you have to transport them to your Austin vet from an early age and beyond.

Play with your Kittens to Keep them Active

If you have a busy schedule, it’s always good to make time to play with your cats. It helps keep them active, gives them needed exercise, and gives them much needed stimulation. While there are so many toys out there to keep your kitten entertained, it’s sometimes small things like crumpled balls of paper, bits of string and cardboard boxes that can keep them busy.

While kittens are full of energy when they’re young, they can sometimes get bored, especially if they’re by themselves. Having another kitten can also help keep them active and give them a playmate, if you don’t have the time to play on a regular basis. It helps for kittens and older cats to have playtime and be active, but then need to understand when being too aggressive is not allowed.

Cat Scratching: Where Should they Scratch?

It’s necessary for kittens and cats to scratch, as it helps sharpen and refresh their claws, and it also helps them mark territory. Since cats sometimes tend to make their own rules, they’ll wind up scratching items such as furniture, wood (primarily wood that isn’t painted or varnished), and others that can eventually be destroyed over time.

There are ways to prevent this. One way is to make sure that your kitten’s nails are always trimmed, which will make them less sharp and cause less destruction. Scratching posts are another way to help save your furniture, walls and anything else from being destroyed. Place several posts throughout your house, and lure your cats to them, perhaps with some catnip, so they know that this is a good scratching location.

Also, cardboard scratching pads come are very handy; not only do they provide a great scratching outlet, but kittens and cats often see them as a good place to take one of their 18 hour naps. It’s important to get them initiated with scratching posts from an early start. If they’re responsive, give them some encouragement, tell them that it’s good what they’re doing, and maybe give them a treat as a reward. You can also pet them while they’re scratching to help reinforce that what they’re doing is okay.

Keep Litter Boxes Clean

Cats are very meticulous when it comes to using the litter box. They can spend several minutes covering up their mess once they’re done, so it’s important to keep their litter box or boxes clean on a routine basis. Be sure to scoop it out once a day and change the litter every two weeks. If the boxes aren’t cleaned regularly and they start to smell, your little guy may make use of the floor instead. Always get a litter mat to go underneath the box and to catch and litter fragments that they may drag out after they’re done.

There are different brands of litter out there, so be sure to pick one that is feline friendly and easy for you to clean. This simple maintenance will also help prevent them from going outside the box as they get older.

Teaching Kittens the Difference between Naughty and Nice

As previously mentioned, it’s important to keep your kittens active, but sometimes they can get far too stimulated and become aggressive. This may also increase the possibility for them to bite and scratch your hands. If you have kittens, play with them without giving them the chance to have direct contact with your hands. Use toys at first, giving them an option to scratch and chew without having your hands involved. Both kittens and cats can go from a love bite and a hard chomp if they get overly excited.

If you have no option but to involve your hands, then set up boundaries by not moving your hands. A cat will usually go for something that’s moving, other than something that isn’t. So if your hands are limp, they’re less likely to be bitten or scratched. Should you get bitten or scratched, you can say “ouch” or “no” loudly, and then bring in a toy to replace your hands. They should get the message that hands are not okay to play with or attack, and the toys you use in place will be a sufficient substitute.

The Difference Between Right and Wrong

Some people like to have their kittens do tricks for treats, while others choose not to. However, there’s nothing wrong with rewarding your little guy for good behavior, and if they know that a treat is on the horizon, they are very likely to behave in order to get a reward. What’s most important is training your kitten to learn the difference between right and wrong. It’s good to play and chase a toy, but it’s not okay to rip the couch to shreds. The sooner you start to teach your kitten the difference between right and wrong, the less stressful things will be and he/she will grow from a rambunctious little thing to a loving adult cat.

It’s always good to stop these problems before they start, but your kitten can still have behavior problems, even if you’ve taken all of these precautionary steps. If your kitten appears to have chronic behavior issues, it could be caused by an underlying condition that you’re not aware of. One such issue is separation anxiety, if they’ve been taken away from their mother too early. Other possible issues could be respiratory infections, distemper, worms fleas and mites. If you’ve just gotten a kitten and you notice some slight behavior issues or potential health problems, please contact ATX Animal Clinic for a wellness check to help determine if your kitten has an underlying condition that may be affecting his or her behavior.