It is often said that the cat does not live with us but that we live with our cat. As if a cat constantly does what it wants, never taking into account what its owner has to say and rejecting any form of education and authority.
Certainly, a cat cannot be educated like a dog, we will never see a cat sit down when given the order, nor even lie down or give a paw. It is also very rare to see a cat come when its owner calls it. However, we can teach him a few small notions, which the cat will remember more easily at a young age. We will see how.
The basics of kitten education
First of all, you have to be aware of who takes the first steps in education with a kitten. It was neither you who adopted him at three months, nor the person, the pet store or the shelter that took care of him before you but his mother. Many people think that weaning only concerns food, that from the moment the cat can eat kibble, it is weaned. But be careful not to confuse food weaning and educational and emotional weaning. It is the mother who does most of the work, and especially the most important: teaching her not to put herself in danger by eating or doing anything.
Removing a cat too early from its mother will require all the more work in terms of education, because it will not only be necessary to resume her role, which she did not have time to complete, but also that of the brothers and sisters. sisters, to teach him to behave with other cats, and this last point is really only possible with the help of a specialist, or if you are lucky to have another cat in your home who is patient enough to take over this role on his own.
The role of the owner in the education of the kitten
Once you have adopted your kitten (as said before, not before she is three months old), despite all her mother’s work, there will still be things to teach her. The kitten will know how to behave with its congeners but not with humans, or at least, not completely.
As a first step, handle it regularly (even if the kitten was born in your home, from one to two weeks old, start to get it used to the touch), of course it is not a question of harassing it, but to do so consistently. Try to have contact with him about 45min / 1 hour a day, not in a row but in small sessions of five to ten minutes.
Put him on his back, scratch his stomach, make him open his mouth, all this so that he understands that even if all physical contact does not please him, at least they are not violent and do not hurt him, and therefore will not scare him in the future. Do this for a few months and it will eventually get used to.
In the event that you adopted your cat in a less conventional way, that is to say that he has a liability that has been potentially complicated (abandoned cat, coming from SPA, found lost in the wilderness, etc.) the work at doing it will be more complicated and a little different. It will take a lot more gently, not having too much physical contact from the first few days, and above all, it will take a lot more patience. Indeed, this cat may have suffered trauma, may be afraid of humans and not wanting any contact out of fear. It will therefore take much longer to socialize. If you find yourself in a case like this and you are having a really hard time dealing with it, don’t hesitate to bring in a specialist, like an animal behaviorist.
Train a kitten to scratch and bite as little as possible
First of all, be sure of one thing, cat that never scratches or bites, that does not exist. But there are, however, small techniques to make it do it as little as possible.
Let’s start by seeing the case of the game. A cat that has not yet been educated will tend to scratch you in order to play. The first and most important thing to know is that you should not play with your cat using your hand. The cat will take it for a toy, and he will therefore play with it in the most natural way for him: by scratching, and will thus get used to it. While it can be tempting to play “fight” with it while it is young and its tiny claws and fangs are harmless, those same claws and fangs as an adult will be much more painful. Prefer to make him play by throwing him balls, balls of paper, corks, or with a “fishing rod” (a stick to which one has attached a string and put a toy at the end, guaranteed success). Thus, it will not associate your hand with a toy.
The vocabulary for the kitten to understand
You obviously will not make him understand complex orders. But above all, it will be necessary to make him understand the refusal orders. If for example he starts to claw a “no claws” in an authoritative tone will usually do just fine. He will only hear a shrug at first, but as it happens he will associate that phrase with scratching. Likewise when he climbs on a piece of furniture on which you do not want him to go for example. A bossy “no” or “you’re getting off” will make him realize that you don’t want him to do this.
You will need a little patience and attention to educate a cat, but it’s within everyone’s reach and ultimately not that difficult. Take the time to do this when he is small and he will give it back to you for the rest of his life.