My brother moved in with me. He just had a Stroke. He likes Cats so we decided to get a Kitten, well ended up with 2 sisters (10 weeks old). We are doing pretty well but I am not sure how to train them to stay off the Kitchen table and counters? I rolled up a very thin news paper and lightly swatted their behinds, while saying No in a firm voice... Not sure if that is the right thing to do. Someone suggested a spray bottle or squirt gun filled with water?? Haven't had animals in years and he has never had one of his own, they are so funny tumbeling all over the place and pouncing on each other. Just watching them seems to be helping his depression, you just have to laugh at them!
Is there something I can put on the table and counters before I go to bed that will keep them off? Thanks Sue I welcome any suggestions.
Sue, I am so sorry to hear about your brother ~ hope his recovery is going well. You are a great sister for not only giving him a place to live but, also, for getting the kittens! Great choice to get two, btw. You are right, having animals is one of the very best ways to avoid or lessen depression when life gives us something difficult to handle ~ they can put a smile on our faces when nothing and no one else can.
Okay, how to train kittens? First off, many would say that it is impossible to "train a cat" and they would be wrong. I know, I've had many, many indoor (and outdoor until I learned better) cats through the years and I've never had a problem establishing where they are allowed to be and where they are not allowed.
So, first up, decide where the kittens are allowed and where they are not allowed. For example, our cats are allowed on the chairs, sofas, beds, laundry folding table, window sills IF the blinds are raised (and believe me, they know the difference) and throughout the house on the floors, bannisters and high window seats we installed just for them - cats do love to be up high!
Then decide where they are NOT allowed to be: In my house, all tables (dining/lamp/entry way/ sofa tables) are completely off limits as well as counters and sinks (both kitchen and bathroom) and, very important here, the massive kitchen island that seats 12 and serves as our entertainment area for dining, playing cards/games and general conversation.
It's essential, before even attempting to start training, that you decide on what the rules are ~ you can't make them up as you go along! If YOU don't know the rules, how can 10 week old kittens even begin to learn them?
Once you have decided on the rules, it is CRITICAL that you enforce them every time ~ otherwise known as 100% Consistency! I often think about young children whose parents are trying to wean them from sleeping with them but, because they are tired or whatever, allow them to do so every once in a while. Sends a mixed signal to those children - sometimes it's ok and sometimes it's not, "guess I'll just see which one it is tonight?" It's every bit as confusing to kittens/cats if sometimes something is ok (because you don't react) and other times it isn't. Just remember, 100% Consistency and that includes every human in the house as well as the cats.
As for the squirt gun/spray bottle - I can't believe this continues to be mentioned as a training tool. Huh? Soak down your own furniture/papers and for what? Stupid idea set forth by lazy couch potatoes who have been unsuccessful at even the most basic idea of caring for and training cats....
But you have the right idea with the folded newspaper and a firm voice except for a couple of things. One, I would never strike a cat - no matter how lightly - just bang the newspaper on the walls/counters or floor, whatever is handy - letting them know THAT THEY ARE IN A "BAD" AREA, and secondly, when teaching them where they are allowed or not allowed, a firm quiet voice doesn't make the cut. Instead, yell at the top of your lungs that they don't belong wherever they are ~ let them know the area is NOT where they want to be. Believe me, cats are smart, and they remember such things and, if you are consistent, they will soon learn where the "okay" places are and those that are prohibited.
As far as "nightime," no, I don't know of anything that will keep them off - don't buy into silly fads and trends that promise such things. Instead, is it possible to give them their own "night-time" room ~ maybe with your brother and a closed door? All that would be needed in a small litter box and a bowl of water/ plus a bowl with Kitten Chow if you choose. They don't need the run of the house at night.
Lastly, kittens need to burn off a lot of energy so I hope you have some toys for them and realize your brother may be somewhat limited in his abilities to play right now SO I suggest getting a Laser Light Pen. Guaranteed to keep the kittens happy and put a smile on your brother's face. Best of luck... This message has been edited. Last edited by: Idaho Resident,
Idaho, thank you. You have come to my rescue again. At this given moment it is not possible to put them in a room by theirselves at night. within a few weeks we should be able to confine them when the wall is finished in the basement. They seem to be a bit better today (fingers crossed) only tried to climb the curtains once today. We tried putting them in with my brother and about 4 AM they decided to use him as a trampoline, I thought it was really funny (I am the older sister ha ha)
I just told him what you said we should do and we will try to be consistant with them. Looks like we are off on a new adventure, and will message as they grow. Thank You again. Sue
Hope something I said was helpful and glad to hear they only tried to climb the curtains once today! And, yes, I understand the reference to the trampoline at 4 in the morning... They have lots of energy to burn off and lots of joy and love to spread around as well. LOL
Don't worry about having a "night-time room" right now ~ it isn't a necessity. Have you and your brother decided on the "rules" ~ where they can be and what area is off limits? Needs to be a mutual decision that you both enforce; otherwise it's just confusing to the kittens.
Take heart, they really do want to do exactly WHAT it is that you want them to do ~ you just need to let them know what that is! Hope you have bought a Laser Pen Light - have you? It will bring smiles to your brother and work off energy with the kittens!
Idaho, haven't been out of the house today. Do you buy the laser pen light at a office supply store? We both agree the kitchen and dining room tables and counter tops are not the place for little cat feet. It was funny today he was sitting on the couch next to them while they were curled up sleeping, I heard him say how could such sweet little angels be such bad kittys. I think they are doing their job keeping him entertained, now if I don't loose the rest of my mind in the process, this should be a worthwhile thing. LOL Sue
Sue, I wouldn't suggest buying a regular laser pointer from an office supply store to play with the kittens ~ it might be more powerful than should be used for their young eyes. Instead, buy one manufactured just for the purpose of playing with cats.
Pretty easy to find - PetCo, PetsMart, Walmart, amazon.com and FosterSmith.com all carry them plus many other places. Just Goggle: "Laser Pointer Cat Toy" and you'll find out what they are and where you can find them. Best news ~ most cost under five dollars! Have fun!
You don't train a cat. You trick them into wanting to do what you want them to do.
One trick I've read about is double-sided tape. Cats hate that feel. Put it along the edge of any surface you don't want them on. It can be more effective than a squirt bottle because it works even when you aren't there.
Idaho - Great ideas. We also don't use spray bottles because the cats do not know why you are spraying them and it breaks their trust in you when they realize their trusted human is spraying them with water.
Sue - Young kittens are just like young children - they have no idea that you want anything from them. So the goals are to teach them to communicate with you; to teach them to understand your communications with them; and to praise them when their behavior pleases you, because that ultimately reduces the number of times that you have to correct them for behavior that does not please you.
Ten weeks is still really young, so please be patient.
Here's what I do: First, I want the kittens to know that we can communicate - that I can understand them and that they can understand me. In my five cat home, the newcomers often learn this skill by watching the other cats, but you can still teach your kittens about communication even though they don't have older cats to learn from. For example, establish regular feeding times, with such young kittens, you might choose the first thing in the morning, mid-day, and just before your evening meal. Pretty soon the kittens will be milling about at these feeding times. Don't stick too closely to the clock - if they are milling about and looking for food and it is reasonably close to feeding time, give it to them. At other times, if they are milling about, you can give them just a taste or a treat, because you are trying to teach them that you will understand their attempts to communicate with you and respond to them. So when they tell you that they want food, give them food. Then praise them for communicating with you. I use "good girl" or "good boy" with a couple of pats. They will learn very quickly that they can communicate with you about food and that lesson will carry into lots of other areas of their life with you. The next step at our home often is telling me that their water bowl needs fresh water. They do this by looking in the bowl, then looking in my eyes, and then looking in the bowl again. I get the message very quickly: "current water gone or too old; I need new or fresh water." Cats are very good at communicating with their humans.
The next task is teaching them that you can communicate with them and that they can understand you. I want my cats to know their names and a few simple verbal commands. My preferred verbal commands are "come," "down," "no no," and "good girl" or "good boy." I teach them their names and to come when I call their names or say "come" and pat the surfact next to me. When they come, they get praised as a good boy or good girl, complete with a few pats. My cats love praise and quickly learn new words or behaviors to elicit praise from me. You can offer food treats, too, to speed this up, but I find praise alone works really well.
The "down" command has a hand signal of me pointing at the floor, and again, the cat is praised when it gets down as a good girl or boy. It often takes several repetitions of the command and the hand signal, but it will work. In the beginning with kittens as young as yours, I'd pick them up off of the forbidden surface and place them on the floor. Once they know what "down" means, then you can stop physically moving them and start using just the voice command and the hand signal. Once the kittens know what "down" means and once they know that you will praise them for the good behavior of getting down, they will comply with your command pretty quickly.
The "no no no no, no no" command is really useful, as you can imagine. At ten weeks of age I would combine the "no no" command with moving the kitten away from the forbidden activity and onto a new, permitted activity. The minute the kitten engages in the new activity, then praise him as a "good boy," complete with a few pats.
Idaho is right - you have to have toys and activities that are permitted. If you don't want them to climb the curtains,then you have to provide a place where it is okay to climb, such as a cat tree or condo. You say "no no" firmly several times as you remove them from the curtains, and then you place them on the cat tree and show them that it's okay to climb there. As soon as they engage with the cat tree, then you praise them.
All of my kittens and cats have learned these commands quickly and are astonishingly reliable about complying.. We had one brilliant Maine Coon boy who loved his praise so much that he soon turned the game around on me and demanded praise first, as if he was asking me "What's the magic word? Can you say please... or good boy?" As soon as I gave him his praise, he would comply with my "command," although by that point I think we'd have to call it my "request."
Hope this helps. Enjoy your new members of the family.
Oh- ostrich feathers make great toys that last forever. I buy the biggest, toughest ones that I can find at the local craft store. We wave the feathers around for the cats to chase; the cats drag the feathers around and nestle into them for a nap; and the kittens chew on the tough stems of the feathers when they are teething. The feathers last for months.
The other great toy is big strips of kraft paper, the brown packaging paper that is about 3 feet wide and comes on rolls. We get pieces that are 12 to 15 feet long that come crumpled up in packages. The cats love them. Right now we have one long and well-loved piece on the family room floor and a second long piece in a box that one cat tipped onto its side and that three cats now use as a "nest." They burrow in the box with one end of the paper, but most of the paper is pushed out in front of the box, looking like a little fort in front of their box. Very cute, very low cost, and easy to pack up and put away when visitors are coming.This message has been edited. Last edited by: sst-a,
Sue, I hope you read sst-a enlightening post very carefully as she expanded on many of the areas I touched on and did so in very clear fashion. Yes, cats, even those as young as the two you have at 10 weeks, seek to communicate with their "people" and it starts with giving them a name ~ one you use and re-use until they know it is theirs alone! In a houseful of cats, I only need to say one name ~ that cat pays attention and the rest play on knowing I'm not talking to them!
I often laugh when "none-cat people come into our house" and say silly things like "kitty, kitty, kitty" ~ I see my cats rolling their eyes and hear them say, "what, do we call you "people, people, people?" And the communication goes both ways; try it. You will find that even though they are still kittens, they are way smarter than you would expect...
Yes, in addition to the loud voice I spoke of earlier re the counter training, hand signals are essential; I should have added that in with my initial post and glad sst-a corrected me. Yes, verbal "down" along with the hand gesture reinforces and lets the kitten know just what you want them to do. Remember, they do want to please you; you just have to let them know, in terms that they understand, exactly what that is! Looking forward to hearing how things are going....
You've gotten good advice.
It is possible to have indoor cats that are not declawed and have your furniture intact.
its been about 5 years now since we bought new sofas. We put double sided tape on all those back corner edges they love to scratch on. And we also provide a variety of scratchers- mine seem to love the cardboard ones best. My sofas are as intact as the day they were delivered.
After a year or two we removed the double sided tape- no problems.
yep- no problems with the furniture, but just wait till you put up the christmas tree!
They will think you have put up the most wonderful toy ever! Don't plan on putting out any breakable ornaments for at least the next 3 years!
Idaho - thanks for the good words. I didn't think that I was correcting you, just augmenting what you were saying.
Sue - I have two additional thoughts for you. First, talk to those babies. Not just to give commands or praise, but talk to them just like you would to any other member of your family. If you are moving a kitten off of the curtains and onto an acceptable place to climb, talk to them as you do it. I tell them, "No, no, Sam, you can't climb here,... but you can climb here...." I even take their paws and show them that they can climb, ever so gently. Then the second they knead or climb on their own, I add the praise, "Good girl, Sam. Good girl. Oh, Sam, you are a good girl."
Greet your kittens when you see them. Say, "Hi, Sam, hi. How are you? You are a good girl, Sam." Say these words or similar words or any words in a tone of voice that lets your kittens know that you are happy to see them. Before you know it, they will be running to greet you when you walk in the door, or into the room that they are in. My cats often come to me to say hello. We have two eighteen month old "junior" cats who have just been allowed outside in the last few months, and then only when I'm home. They run out to play, and in to find out where I am and what I'm doing, and then back out again.
My older cats greet me at the car when I get home from work. They wait on the front porch and the minute I pull up, they run to the car and mill about until I get out of the car. I take time to greet each of them by name and give them a pat or two. Then I grab my purse and briefcase and we head into the house together.
My next door neighbor has a dog she dotes on and a cat that she feeds and ignores. One day she watched the cats greeting me at the car, and she yelled, "Are those cats GREETING you?" She sounded amazed and disbelieving. My response, "Yes, they are." My neighbor was shocked. She had put a lot of energy into training her dog, but she had spent no energy training her cat. I found it a little heartbreaking.
Cats are so much smarter than most people think. Learn to communicate with your kittens now and they will love you and obey you (most of the time) for many years to come.
Please let us know how its going.This message has been edited. Last edited by: sst-a,
I have conversations with mine all the time. An depending on their mood, they talk back. People think I'm crazy. But thats okay.
We just let the little runt feral kitten we have been nursing back to health out of the guest room where she has been staying the last 6 weeks. She's had eye surgery and then got spayed day before yesterday. What a busy little thing she's been. just a little gray blur....Ought to be interesting here come Christmas.
wow..sst-a.. I have been a cat mom all my life and I still couldn't explain as clearly as you have. I learned a lot just from your posts.
Yes my cats greet me, etc.. And I have never had problems with cats on the table or counters, but your information was so clear. I really do thank you!
Life is GOOD!!
Thanks for your kind words. Sorry to be so long responding, but I had a car accident, not too serious, and not my fault, but still it put me out of commission for a few days and then kept me very busy dealing with insurance, car repairs, car rentals, etc., on top of the ususal things I do.
As you can tell, I think cats are very smart and easy to train. I think that they think the same thing about me.
Lots of good suggestions on this thread as well as great ideas! Only one question, where is OP? Sue, hope you post back soon with an up-date.
Hi am back with update and new problem. The kittens are doing well and healthy, think my brother and I are the ones getting trained. They are really good about using the litter box and are loving Iams kitten food.
I don't know if this is normal or not? One decided to nurse on her sister (who lets her) she has licked all the fur off the nipple, we distract her and try to discourage her. Have you ever heard of this behavior?? None of my friends with cats have never heard of this...
Do we need a kitty shrink or what? We were thinking because they are litter mates has something to do with it? Have any of you heard of this behavior? Thanks Sue
Sue, Through the years, I have had many kittens/cats who were litter mates. In fact, our two 11 year old Maine Coons are brother and sister, but have to say I have never witnessed this behavior.
Nursing can be an infantile response seeking security and comfort but the farthest I have had any cats take any action (after weaning) is the usual "kneading" response which many cats continue throughout their lives ~ usually on their humans!
I understand that you are trying to distract and discourage the behavior but would suggest that you take it a step further and STOP the behavior ~ immediately ~ each and every time it occurs. Remember the 100% Consistency Theory when it comes to dealing with cats.
On the good side, I doubt that anything really harmful will result from the activity except an annoyance and physical irritation on the part of the one being "nursed" but I would put a stop to it immediately anyway. Kittens try out different behaviors; up to their humans to let them know which are acceptable and which are not. Keep us posted on how it goes....
PS. Did you ever get a Cat Laser Light? Easiest way to re-direct kitten behavior that I've ever found!
I've had lots of cats through the years but the only way I have seen this behavior is when the kitten continued to try to nurse on mom.
If I had to guess I would think that the kitten is probably trying to do this for comfort in much the same way a child wants a pacifier.
I would try to discourage it by distracting the kitten with another activity when I caught him doing it.
I don't think it is a big thing you have to worry about and the kitten will probably outgrow it.
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