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17 April 2019

Grumpy Cat’s “cattitude” has been a popular internet meme, but having a cat like Sir Grumpy is not what most new kitten parents have in mind for their babies. Most of them just want to raise a sweet, friendly cat. But just like human children, cat temperaments differ.

However, following these 6 tips can help you train your kitten to enjoy human contact, be less anxious around noises and unfamiliar objects, and generally grow into a well-socialised cat:

1. Don’t Treat Your Kitten Like an Adult

Ideally, kittens need to spend the first 8 weeks with their mom and siblings—if that isn’t possible, you may need to bottle-feed, cuddle, and nurture your little kitten. This will require nearly around-the-clock care, the younger the kitten is. If your kitten is younger than 8 weeks, the same care you give to ensure its good health will help it to begin to rely on and trust you as its human parent. Bear in mind that at this age, you will need to:

  • Bottle feed special kitty formula to your kitten every 3 hours until it is ready to wean and begin solid foods (a gradual process)
  • Cuddle and keep the kitten warm the same way its mother and siblings would if they were all together
  • You’ll even need to help a kitten under this age go to the bathroom by gently stimulating its bowels as its body may not be able to do it alone just yet
  • Keep your kitten clean and away from other pets and older cats as its immune system is not strong enough, and it may not yet be old enough to start kitten vaccinations.

Learn more about the developmental stages of kittens and take appropriate care at each stage.

2. Gentleness Breeds Gentleness

Regardless of how many weeks old your kitten is, you will need to treat it with gentleness if you want it to learn the best way for it to interact with others, whether animal or human.

Use these gentleness tips to condition your kitties so they trust you and learn about gentleness:

  • Stay close and cuddle frequently, keeping it warm and cozy
  • Pet frequently and affectionately
  • Use a soft voice and say its name frequently
  • Groom your kitten frequently so it gets used to being brushed and cleaned
  • Engage in frequent playtime as it gets older and more energetic — As kittens get older, they have a lot more energy to spare, so playtime is an important way to help it socialise and interact with you and other humans in the home

3. Reward Good Behavior

Kittens can’t be “naughty”—they just do what comes naturally. So, don’t get angry or yell at your kitten. Instead, re-direct your kitten to a toy or scratching post if they bite or scratch during play—don’t censure. In fact, make sure to have safe, quiet places for your kitten to rest if it becomes overwhelmed, and a designated scratching post for it to use when its natural cat inclination strikes.

After a fun playtime, reward your kitten with a special treat and lots of affection if it has behaved well. (Just be sure not to give too many treats at a time so it doesn’t become overweight. Limit them to less than 10% of your kitten’s daily caloric intake, with the other 90% being a highly-nutritious kitten food.)

4. Socialise & Condition

It’s very important not to isolate your kittens, particularly once they’ve been weaned and had their vaccinations, or they won’t be used to people and other animals as adults. As they grow beyond 8 weeks of age, make sure to include them in more appropriate social interactions with humans and other animals in the home. For instance:

  • Introduce them to friends and family
  • Introduce them as early as possible to gentle, cat-friendly dogs. This can help a kitten grow out of her instinctive fear of dogs and make the home more peaceable when both types of pets are in the home
  • Play music, vacuum, and do other normal, noisy activities so they get used to them early and aren’t afraid of loud noises later on
  • Provide lots of playtime with toys and safe objects like boxes, but be sure to be personally involved.

5. Be Present for Playtime

The importance of personal engagement with your kitten cannot be understated. The more you and other family members are directly involved in face-to-face, hand-to-paw playtime, the easier it will be for your kitten to engage with other humans in a friendly way.

6. Keep Your Kitten Healthy

Behavior is often a secret indicator of how your cat feels. If she is feeling under-the-weather, she may not want to socialise or be affectionate. So, keeping your kitten healthy and providing it with the best nutrition for growth and development will help you raise an affectionate cat. Ensure your kitten gets all of the essential preventative veterinary care like vaccinations and de-worming and keep them on a healthy diet so they always feel their best and act their best.

Are you eager to learn more about the best way to care for your kittens? Get more kitten care wisdom by subscribing to Knose’s pet health tips today.

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