While your kitten’s interest in training will be different from a dog, that doesn’t preclude them from being capable to learn things that will be helpful to both you and them! Two core training areas that you should work on are litterbox training and carrier training. Some cats however can be quite successful with training for things such as leash walking and coming at command. Obedience training to avoid over aggression and encourage proper play can also be successful when started at a young age.
Fortunately, most kittens will use a litterbox naturally without any training at all. There are some steps to help them be successful however. Start with a low-profile box with at least 2 inches of litter inside. Many cats prefer scoopable unscented litter. As your kitten grows, you should obtain a larger box. Your cat will ideally have 2 different litterboxes available to them at all times to prevent inappropriate spraying. With multiple cats in the home, a good rule of thumb is to have as many litterboxes as there are cats, plus one.
One cost effective solution that many cats seem to like is to reuse large plastic storage containers. For younger cats and for older cats, a “U” shaped opening can be cut into the side at a height that allows the cat to enter at their level of capability. An adult cat may be able to easily use a high sided container helping to prevent messes, but they may need to gradually progress to that. Another effective tip to prevent messes at home is to utilize a double layered mat under and around the box that allows the litter to fall through the first layer into the second layer that can be easily contained and then removed periodically.
Introducing a cat carrier from a young age will be very beneficial over time and therefore we consider it a high priority. Cat carriers become vital for visits to the vet, traveling with your cat and for moving to a new home at any point. The sooner you start the less stress and issues will result down the road.
Make the cat carrier like a piece of furniture in the house. Ideally the cat will want to roam freely in and out of the carrier, but this needs to be done prior to using the carrier against their will to take them somewhere. If they become comfortable with the carrier ahead of time, you will remove much of the fear and anxiety associated with the carrier. Trust us, you will be thankful later!
Additional Resource: Fear-Free Cat Carrier Tips DVM360
It’s important to begin training your kitten as soon as possible so they will grow up to learn and respect the boundaries of your home. You don’t want your cat to be digging in the trash, tearing up your furniture or constantly jumping up on your counter. Kitten obedience training will help keep her mind and body active, teach her good social skills and behaviors, and strengthen her bond with you. Common behavioral problems training can help with include: Furniture scratching, spraying and urinating, aggression toward people or other animal, stress, fear or anxiety, compulsive behaviors, such as over-grooming or excessively scratching or biting.
How to train your cat: If you’re lucky, your cat will be willing and eager to learn your commands. However, there’s a chance they will ignore you. Every cat is different, and training can be extremely trying on your patience. Make sure to carve out small amounts of time each day to spend working with her. If you have other cats in your home, remember that they each have different personalities and have to be taught differently.
Be aware that cats do not understand or respond well to punishment. Punishment will often cause your cat to run away and hide from you, and can lead to stress, which can also breed behavioral and health problems. Encouraging good behavior with a reward is much more effective, and that reward can come in the form of praise and/or a tasty treat. This reward-based training teaches your cat to associate good behavior with positive results.
One of the most common cat training techniques is clicker training, which is another form of reward-based training. For instance, if you’d like to teach your cat to sit, click the clicker as soon as she sits down and give her a small treat. Eventually, with enough repetition, she will learn to associate the click with the behavior and the reward.
Keep training sessions short—cats have short attention spans and can get bored fast. Focus on one command at a time and move on to the next when she’s mastered the first. Practice the commands in different areas of the house so that she gets used to responding to you in different situations.
How to correct bad behavior: There could be several reasons why your cat is acting out—they might be stressed over a new change in your home, they might have a medical condition or she simply may not understand that her behavior is wrong. While you may think that your cat is misbehaving because they’re upset or spiteful toward you, this is usually not the case.
Redirecting the behavior instead of punishing them for it is more likely to put them back on track. By punishing them, they may feel threatened by you, which can ultimately lead to even more stress and bad habits. If they are fearful of you, this will also damage your bond with one another. However, they should be made aware of unwanted behaviors. One way of doing this is by connecting bad behaviors with something unpleasant. For instance, cats are averse to certain scents like perfume and citrus. You can soak cotton balls in these scents to keep your cat away from places you don’t want her to go. Products such as Feliway are based on this premise. You can also test deterrents such as two sided tape or tin foil on areas you don’t want the cat going or scratching. Always remember to praise your cat for good behaviors as well. Give her a treat for a job well done, and she will learn to associate her actions with her rewards.