Surviving Life With a Kitten

If you think that life with a kitten means only providing food, a litter box and a toy or two, you are wrong.

Just like human babies, kittens require upbringing and you cannot depend on mother cat to have done all the work. She left some of the work for you to do.

Kittens need gentle, patient, and loving caregivers who will provide proper food, veterinary care, exercise, and some interactive training.

The best kitten or kittens to get are ones that have spent time with their mothers and with people who have handled and played with them during the critical socializing period between 2 to 7 seven weeks.

I never realized the importance of this period of time until we adopted a 9 week old feral kitten that did not have much opportunity to be socialized by humans. Our Boots is afraid of everyone, especially men.

He is now going on 11 years old and is finally coming out of his shell and is beginning to show less fear of new people and will actually let someone other than myself pet him.

Kittens that do not have a social life with other people around tend to be fearful and extremely timid or as in Boots’ case passive and just plain scared of their own shadows.

By the time a kitten is 4 or 5 months old they are becoming small cats and are interesting in chasing things and really playing interactive games with their caregivers.

By the time a kitten is 5 to 9 months old they are reaching what is known as puberty (the teenage years) and they are interested more along with playing in the things that dominate a cat’s world. If you have more than one kitten they may take to playing rougher with each other as the “dominance” part of their lives kicks in. They may take to marking what they think is their territory and even to mounting each other.

If you have a single kitten, it may take to attacking your hands and feet, stalking your movements and pouncing on you. This is what kittens do as they are growing into cats. It is rehearsal time for becoming a “cat.”

This is where you can start a training procedure. Cats like dogs need and want attention and if your cat is starting to develop behaviors that you do not like now is the time to discourage them.

If your kitten is starting to claw at the furniture, the first thing of course is to have several scratching posts available for kitty to use. Cover the furniture or use some sticky back tape to protect the things kitty finds of interest. Trying to punish you cat will literally do no good. Cats are smart enough to then learn not to do it when you are around.

The secret is to ignore the behavior, but do something to make it undesirable like using the tape or foil. Once your cat sees that the fun is gone and you have replaced it with a nice new post the desire will disappear to tear up the couch or stereo speakers.

If kitty is determined to get your attention in the middle of the night for play or more food if you follow my advice you will cure kitty of that habit.

My cat Smokey is a night eater and feels I should get up around 2 every morning to feed him fresh food. Oddly enough I did this for many months and then it dawned on me “why am I doing this?”

He had plenty of other food he could eat. I began to ignore him every time he came into our room and pawed at me. I gently shoved him away and said “no” quietly to him, turned my back on him and went back to sleep. It took about a week of not getting up and he stopped bothering me as he was not getting the attention or the desired effect he wanted.

I found out that a lot of a cat’s bad habits are due to the attention that we, the caregivers give to the bad habit. If you ignore it and if necessary do what is needed to stop it, the desire will go away. Double sticky tape will stop a lot of counter crawling, furniture clawing and ignoring will stop a lot of attention demands that are not necessary.

Many problems occur because we humans forget cats need to play and you need to devote at least 15 to 20 minutes of your day to actually playing with your cat. There are so many inexpensive wand type toys you can buy or even make that will give your cat exercise and the attention it deserves.

If you are having litter box problems, make certain you have a proper size litter box for your cat and if you have more that one cat have a box for each cat and one to spare. Do not put the litter box near the food supply or near where the cat generally sleeps.

No one likes to eat or sleep right next to their bathroom. Be certain to take your kitten to your vet for the important and necessary kitten shots and learn how to clip its nails in order to prevent unnecessary furniture clawing. If you start young it will not be a hassle.

The same goes for using a cat carrier. Get your kitten used to the car and the carrier by going for short rides on a fairly frequent basis. This way your cat learns that a carrier and a car are not mortal enemies and if you have to take a trip somewhere further than the vets, your nerves will be in tact when you get there and so will your cat’s nerves.

If you use common sense thinking, give your cat the attention is deserves, make certain you feed your kitten food made for kittens, do the veterinary trips at least once a year and provide your cat with toys and love you will have a long and happy life together.