May 7, 2010

Understanding Kitten Development

Filed under: Cat behavior,cat training,training your kitten — Dr. Amber Reed @ 12:18 am

kitten developmentThe first 6 months of your kitten’s life will mark several important developmental milestones.  From being dependent on their mother for food and protection to becoming friendly, independent companions, kittens learn a lot in the first few months of life.  As a cat owner, it is important to understand these developmental stages so that you can ensure the best care for your kitten and so that your kitten grows to be a healthy and well-socialized cat.

The neonatal period of development is generally defined as the first two weeks of life.  During this time, kittens learn to orient to sounds and their eyes are not completely open until the end of the second week. At this point, litter mates begin competing for rank and territory but separating kittens from their mother can lead to poor socialization. In fact, kittens should never be removed from their mother too early as this often leads them to be aggressive and even anxiety-prone.feline stress

During the next 4 weeks or so your kitten will be in the socialization phase of development.  By 4 weeks of age, their sense of smell and hearing is well developed and they’re able to see moderately well.  At this point, you’ll notice that kittens interact much more with litter mates. They are walking around and they are starting to get teeth.  By the end of this phase you can see the makings of an adult cat with regular sleeping patterns, refined motor skills, and more social interaction.

From weeks 7 to 14 kittens are most active and really love to play.  Using toys and playing with your kitten helps them to develop coordination as well as social skills.  Ideally, kittens should still be observing their mother at this point so that they can learn a range of beneficial behaviors including grooming.

Finally, the ranking stage lasts from about 3 months to 6 months of age.  Kittens are greatly influenced by their litter and they start to recognize friends of other species like dogs and humans.  In addition, they begin to rank dominant and submissive members of their group, including their human owners.

December 22, 2009

Few Basic Principles in Training a Kitten

Cats are independent creatures and the notion of training them may seem odd to some cat owners. Nevertheless, kitten training is an important responsibility for cat owners as it will ensure that they don’t engage in inappropriate behaviour like scratching furniture. Generally speaking, training any animal follows a few basic principles and training a kitten is no different. By training at an early age you prevent bad habits from developing and since it’s much easier to teach good habits than undo bad habits it’s essential that you train your kitten.

One thing to remember with regards to training your kitten is that you want to give them a chance to acclimatize to their new surroundings first. During the first few days that your kitten is in your home, it is important not to overwhelm them with rules. Also, in the beginning it is good to keep your kitten isolated from other pets and animals. When animals first meet, anxiety is a common reaction and this can lead to aggressive behaviour. Still, it is also important to ensure that during kitten training you gradually expose your kitten to other pets so that they can build a familiar and friendly relationship from an early stage.

Furthermore, there are some materials that you must prepare for your kitten before you bring it home, namely a litter box and scratching post. Show your cat how to use these items and be sure to give them plenty of positive reinforcement when they demonstrate bad behaviour. While positive reinforcement is usually more effective than punishment, there are times when you need to motivate your cat to change their behaviour. Many pet owners find that investing in a spray bottle is an effective way to punish a kitten who engages in inappropriate behaviour. For example, if your kitten loves to scratch the furniture rather than the scratch post you can spray her with some water when she attacks the furniture but praise her when she goes for the scratch post. These two methods will produce positive results in almost every situation.

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Disclaimer: CritterCures is an educational resource, and all information herein is strictly for educational purposes. It is not intended to diagnose, treat, prevent, or cure diseases, nor is it meant to replace the (prescribed) treatment or recommendations of your veterinarian or healthcare provider. Always inform your veterinarian or healthcare provider of any products that your pet are taking, including herbal remedies and supplements.