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Our Top Tips For Teaching Your Kitten Good Manners

February 01, 2024

Have you recently adopted a kitten? Congratulations! Bringing a new kitten into your home is an exciting experience. Your life with Fluffy will be filled with moments of joy, playfulness, and love, as well as a fair share of adorable mischief. However, just like human children, kittens need guidance and training to develop good manners. A Southern Utah, UT veterinarian offers some advice on raising little Fluffy to be a sweet, friendly kitty in this article. 

Play With Your Kitten

Playing not only keeps your little buddy active and entertained, it also helps with bonding. It’s important to play with your kitten. Just avoid playing with your cat using your hands or feet. That’s just teaching her that it’s fine to use you as a cat toy! Ideally, you want to use toys that you control from a distance. Some good options are laser pointers, string toys, remote controlled toys, and even balls that you can roll towards her.

Help Your Kitten Feel Safe

The biggest thing is to always handle your kitty with a loving and gentle touch. Talking to little Fluffy can go a long way towards helping her feel safe. This is also great for bonding! It doesn’t matter what you say: just use a friendly tone of voice.

Simply letting your pet curl up on you for a nap will go a long way. Cats crave affection, and many just love cuddling up with their humans. In fact, this is good for you both! When you snuggle up with your feline friend, a special hormone, oxytocin, also known as the Cuddle Hormone, is released in both of you. This reinforces feeling loved and safe.

Make sure that your pet only forms positive associations with you. Little Fluffy can be quite rambunctious, but she can also get frightened quite easily. Never force attention on her, and don’t hold her if she doesn’t want to be held.

Establish a Safe Haven For Your Kitten

You’ll want to create a safe and comfortable environment for your kitten. If you have a large home and/or other pets, start your new arrival out in a small, comfy spot. This can be a spare room, extra bathroom, or laundry room. Just provide a designated space with a cozy bed, litter box, and food and water bowls. This establishes a secure base from which your kitten can explore the rest of her new kingdom.

Teaching A  Kitten Good Manners

Kittens are naturally playful, and their primary mode of interaction is through play. However, it’s essential to establish boundaries to prevent rough play or biting. Like human toddlers, little Fluffy needs to learn what is and is not appropriate. It may be cute now when your tiny furball bites or scratches you, or pounces on your shoelaces, but this is not going to be cute behavior in an adult cat. However, if your kitten does something naughty, such as biting or scratching, don’t punish her: that could scare her. You’re better off to gently rebuke her and then guide her towards more appropriate behavior.

If your feline pal bites or scratches, immediately reproach her. Use a stern, disapproving tone. You can say ‘No’ or ‘Play nice’ or ‘Don’t bite’ or ‘Put Your Claws Away.’ Just make sure that you’re using the same words or phrases every time. Then, ignore her. This teaches your kitten that gentle play is rewarded, while aggressive behavior leads to the end of playtime.

No luck? Do something that will annoy your furry friend without hurting or really scaring her. You can squirt her with water or blow in her face. Loud noises also work well for this. Clap your hands, sound an alarm on your phone, or rattle a jar of change.

Use  Positive Reinforcement


Kittens respond well to positive reinforcement. Whenever your furball displays good behavior, such as using the litter box or playing gently, reward her with treats, affection, or playtime. This strengthens the association between good behavior and positive outcomes, making your kitten more likely to repeat these actions and discouraging bad petiquette.


Offer Your Kitten A Suitable Scratching Posts


Cats have a natural instinct to scratch; it helps them stretch their muscles, mark territory, and keep their claws healthy. Instead of scolding your kitten for scratching furniture, provide designated scratching posts. A good scratching post is a must. You won’t have much luck teaching little Fluffy not to scratch your sofa if she doesn’t have any other options. 


Place posts and boards strategically in areas your kitten frequents, and encourage their use with treats and praise. This not only saves your furniture, but also channels your kitten’s natural behavior in a positive direction.


Don’t Skip Socialization


Regular and gentle handling helps your kitten become accustomed to human touch, making vet visits and grooming more manageable. Have people come over to pet and play with your furry pal. (We suspect you won’t have too much trouble getting volunteers.) This is cute, but it’s also important, as proper socialization will help little Fluffy grow into a well-mannered and adaptable adult cat.

Raise A Cuddly Cat

Our feline buddies all have their own purrsonalities. Some are little cuddle bugs, while others are more aloof. While breed does play a role here, the way little Fluffy is raised also makes a huge difference.

Kittens are very small and fragile. They really crave feeling loved, safe, and cared for. In fact, our feline pals think of us as second parents. (Fluffy also thinks of us as her cook, maid, and butler, but that’s besides the point.)

Spend lots of quality time with your little buddy. If she wants to snuggle on your lap or in your arms, by all means indulge her. Stroke your kitten gently as she is relaxing. Chances are, she’ll start her motor right up!

The big thing here? Never force attention on a kitten. Always let her decide when snuggle time stops and ends. If you try to force your furry pal to submit to being petted or held when she doesn’t want to, you’ll end up doing more harm than good! 

Prevent Counter Surfing


Kittens are naturally curious, and countertops can be tempting playgrounds. To discourage counter surfing, make the surfaces less appealing by using double-sided tape or aluminum foil. Don’t work against your pet’s desire to climb: work with it. Providing alternative elevated spaces or cat shelves for climbing will help ensure that your kitten has an acceptable outlet for their curiosity. (Cat towers are a purrfect choice.) 


Purrsonal Space


While cats are known for their independent nature, they also appreciate purrsonal space. Create designated cozy spots for your kitten to relax, such as a comfortable bed or a warm blanket. (Boxes, as we all know, are also very popular with these little furballs.) 


In Conclusion: Teaching a kitten good manners is a rewarding journey that strengthens your bond and helps your pet grow into a polite adult. Patience, consistency, and positive reinforcement are the keys to success. By understanding your kitten’s natural behaviors and gently guiding them toward acceptable alternatives, you set the foundation for a well-mannered and happy feline companion.


Please contact us for all of your kitten’s veterinary care needs. Don’t be afraid to ask your Southern Utah, UT veterinarian for more tips on raising little Fluffy. We’re here to help! 

Posted in Behavior, Cat Care

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Also serving Southern Utah, UT and surrounding areas. 

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