Help & Opinions on cat training please

So Cat People, when do you start training your kitten for (or rather against) various things, when do you start to veto some of the cute kitten games which could become annoying cat habits ?

Situation - a recently acquired 2 month old male NOT our fault he was taken away from mum so little. (Miraculously already trained to use the litter tray.) He doesn’t sleep in the bedroom.

“thread rules” :wink: - he will be allowed outside within reason; he will keep the claws he was born with.

Being so little he is prone to his ‘mad five minutes’ which incude attacking carpet fringes and pulling himself along the floor using the edge of the throw hanging from the sofa for purchase. Sometimes, almost before you’ve heard him cry for attention he’s climbed up your leg (clothed or not) to waist height or higher. He can get distracted or over enthusiastic in the litter tray so some litter ends up on the floor. He quite likes trying his teeth on fingers and feet but and responds to “ow” and eases up when he gets too rough. I’m guessing these are things he’ll grow out of ?

I know that he still needs them to scramble up onto things he’ll be able to jump straight onto later but when will he master the fine art of retracting his claws ?

If we’re thinking training him to a harness and lead when should we start and how did you manage ?(this is what i found on the subject.)

Because he’s so little I find it difficult to judge how much food to put out in his bowl - I always put too much - is it very bad to leave food there for him to find at random times when he still has so much growing to do ?

Thanks for any ideas, advice or sharing of experiences. The husband and I both grew up with cats and dogs, have cat and dog sat recently but we were kids ourselves when we last had a baby one and I don’t want to create problems later by doing something stupid now.

A lot of kitten behaviors he will grow out of, such as climbing you. None of my adults have ever done that, altho some did as kittens.

I “free feed” my cats even as adults - leaving dry kitten food out for him is a good idea. Of course,he should always have access to fresh water.

“Flinging the litter”. This one he may or may not grow out of. It may help to put a mat under the litter box, or get an enclosed one. A friend of mine also found some that, while not completely enclosed, do have high sides. This reduced the amount of litter on the floor considerably.

If you are thinking of training him to harness and leash my advice is to start yesterday. This my require buying another harness if he outgrows the first one (which he probably will) but it is very difficult to get an adult cat to cooperate. I didn’t start mine when they were kittens, so if I try to put a harness on them now they flop over on their sides and refuse to move.

Since he’s male, and you’ve decided to let him go out, I recommend talking with your vet about getting him neutered as soon as he is big and healthy enough. Up-to-date vaccinations are also extra necessary for a cat that goes outdoors.

Good luck with your new feline overlord! Pics soon, please!

We’ve been lucky with our cats. They grew out of their worst habits – climbing on bodies, destroying furniture (and lamp shades and drapes) – in about six months.

We neuter or spay as soon as the vet says it’s okay. They keep their claws. We fill the food dish once a day, and keep the water bowl full. The litter boxes are in the basement, in a room where it doesn’t matter if litter gets tracked around a bit.

We let them sleep on our beds as long as they behave – no pouncing in the middle of the night, causing someone (me) to wake up screaming “There’s a bear in my room!”

Haven’t tried leash training. There are too many loose dogs in the neighborhood, and the cats are content to be indoors, with windows to look out of and laps for sitting.

Cats are like kids. If you’re constantly watching them for problems and trying to control every aspect of their behavior, and pampering too much, they’ll rise to the occasion. You’ll have problems.

Many of us “free feed” a good quality dry food, with an ocassional can at “dinner time”. I suggest Royal Canin or Felidae. Some younger kittens enjoy their food sprinkled with dry kitten forumla.

“Cat?” “Training?” I have heard both of those words and know what they mean, but to use them in the same sentence? Nope, makes no sense to me at all.

Harness and leash need started now. I kept my kitten in hers 24-7 for a while until she got used to it. Most, if not all, cats won’t go for a walk like a dog will, but will go out and sit and watch the world or play in the flower beds. I never found a way to stop the playing in litter, she grew out of it. To control the mess, I put the litterbox in a closet so the litter was mostly contained and vacuumed frequently. My cat came declawed so she never climbed me. I also crate trained my cat, so when she got too riled up, I put her in her cage to settle down for a while. At 5 years old, she still goes there when I scold her for misbehaving, so I just have to follow her and close the door (she’s there right now for trying to eat a door). Free feed until your vet tells you he’s too big or until he’s done growing. If he starts to get chubby instead of lean and lanky, measure food every day (or twice a day if he isn’t good at self control). You only have to watch how long food has been down if you are feeding canned food (and other great reason not to feed canned food).

Thanks guys - that’s what I wanted to hear, as a reward expect pictures tomorrow :stuck_out_tongue:

Water out all the time, gotcha on the food front. For the harness I don’t think we would ever be taking him for a walk as such but if we were going to out for a long pic-nic it would be nice not to leave him cooped up inside, have the option of taking him with us for fresh air. He’ll be given the chop as soon as. Will consider options on the litter tray front.

PS Eve if you aren’t going to hear about weird stuff like Cat Training on the Straightdope where are you gonna hear it ? :wink:

Aside from the advice to start harness training immediately, I completely disagree with just about every single piece of advice on that linked page. Those tricks might work if you’re dealing with an adult cat, but with a kitten the age of yours, they’re pretty much unnecessary, and could even be detrimental.

Unless you plan on letting him run around outside unharnessed (which I highly recommend against), what you want to do is have your cat associate the harness with being allowed outside. That won’t happen if you’re putting it on him when he eats and when he’s just hanging around the house. When you’re ready to take him outside, put the harness on him, carry him to a safe place outside and set him down. He won’t be able to figure out what to do with it at first, and will probably just roll around. But after a few times, he’ll realize he can get up and walk around in it, and then he’ll learn that outside=harness. I started my first cat at 8 weeks, just like yours is, and she never even thought about going out without it – she’d stand at the door and patiently wait for it to be put on and connected before stepping foot outside.

I can tell you with about 99% certainty that that will never happen. A cat on a harness doesn’t act like a dog on a harness. They don’t “go on walks” like dogs do – they just kind of wander around, eat some grass, roll over and get tangled up, move to the next yummy looking blade of grass or bush and then decide they’ve had enough and go home. They can’t be trained to “heel” or “stay,” so you have to be very aware of the environment around you and the cat at all times, so that if a potential distraction comes near view, you can start to guide the cat away from it, or you will play hell catching up to it when it rips the lead from your hand and takes off.

Good luck and Congrats on the new kitty!! ^…^

More or less correct. But a cat on a harness will learn to enjoy walks where you carry her most of the time.

Well, here he is - photos of “Pepsi, the smallest kitten in the world”. That’s a woman’s US size 8 shoe and a normal man’s size head btw.

**Shayna **and Dr Deth, to clarify, I was hoping to be able to - take cat somewhere park-like in a carrier then allow him to sit with us on the lead. Thanks for your advice tho’ Shayna.


Well, yes, you can do that. But my cats do like “going for a carry”, mainly to the petfood store. They’ll want to get down once in a while, to check out the new batch of cat toys or soemthing.

Any thoughts on how to get a cat to stop clawing furniture? We have our two 18-month-old cats and have had them for about 7 months. They are great in pretty much every way except for clawing stuff.

We have a scratching post and some cardboard scratching pads - seasoned with cat nip - and the cats will claw those along with the furniture. ::sigh::

Any ideas?

OMG I want to gobble him up! He is so precious!!

If you can get your cat to “sit” with you with a harness on in a park, you’re a better cat trainer than I could ever hope to be. Even if you were able to get him used to having a harness on him, he still won’t “sit with you” in a strange location he’s unfamiliar with where lots of activity is going on around him that will either frighten him into bolting or entice him into it. Obviously people’s mileage and experience varies, but I wouldn’t recommend doing what you’re suggesting. If you really want to take him with you when you go to parks, maybe get him “cage” trained and bring a collapsible cage or a pet playpen, or catwalk (another one) to let him hang out in with you.

My kitty actually walks until she gets tired and simply must be carried on my left shoulder. SHe likes to picnic too, which is usually her sitting on or near me at a picnic table while people are eating around her. She sits and watches in the courtyard of our condo too. Here she is climbing the East Bluff at Devil’s Lake State Park.

I think a lot of cat training depends on the nature of the beast - my cat has the will to please, and was easily trained. My husband’s cat recognizes no other authority than her own, and is marginally trained (she gets off the table when she hears me coming - that’s about as it’s going to get with her).

I would train the kitten from day one that tables, kitchen counters, anywhere that you put food are off-limits. We can put our dinners on the table and go back to the kitchen and have them untouched when we get back (we don’t leave the food for extended periods - they’re cats, not saints).

As for getting them to stop scratching, I use that spray that discourages cats, but honestly, some cats just like to scratch (like mine), and the price of having her in the house is her scratching stuff I’d prefer her not to scratch.

What else would I do differently with my cat? Decide right now if he’s an outside cat or an inside cat. If he goes out at all, he will constantly be whining to be let out, and I do mean CONSTANTLY. If he’s an inside cat, he doesn’t go out at all. There doesn’t seem to be any halfway measure for cats with this.

Keeping him out of the bedroom at night is a great idea. I recommend it for everyone who likes to get undisturbed sleep. We kick our cats out before we go to sleep; they usually just march out the door and go sleep somewhere else.

Have you considered getting Pepsi a buddy? I wish our two cats had gotten to know each other when they were young enough to bond - they have an armed truce that is as good as it’s going to get with them.

“As good as it’s going to get” - sheesh.

According to Calling All Pets, a radio show on NPR that I listen to sometimes, where people call in to talk about their pets and get advice from a trained zoologist, Trisha McConnell,featherlou is wrong about the indoor/outdoor cat thing. Some cats want to be outdoors without any encouragement from their owners. These cats are likely to sit by the window and beg, or try to escape through the door whenever it opens regardless of whether you ever permit them to go outside. Other cats never develop an interest in going outside on their own, and would be perfectly happy indoors all of their days. if you have a cat like this, taking it outdoors can create an interest where one didn’t exist before in going outdoors, so you might actually be better off not taking it outdoors.

Thought long and hard, the thing is we live in circumstances only a European city dweller can relate to, we’ve got a whole 35m / 376 ft square to our names. Thank goodness we’re on the ground floor and can spill out into the “yard”. Two kittens would be ‘interesting’, two cats ? Difficult. (Altho’ we do hope to move somewhere bigger one day …)

However there are already two other cats who spend much of their imes hanging round outside and visiting the old lady in the other ground floor flat - Pepsi’s rubbed noses with them already - so he won’t be entirely bereft of feline company.