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"Training" a kitten?

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 
I'm new to cats (though I have always been an admirer), and I am pretty good/experienced with dogs, but I would very much appreciate your collective experience.

My kitten has recently started to try to climb my leg to get some love. I give her lots of attention, but she is presently living in my bathroom most of the time (she's so tiny, and my house is big & old & full of other critters that I am still slowly introducing her to). She is very affectionate, talkative and playful -- but also VERY impatient. If I am washing my face, or brushing my teeth and do not sit on the floor & snuggle with her immediately she has decided to take it upon herself to try to get to me (hence the climbing). I am all for positive training methods, and it takes alot to not swat her away from me as she is digging her talons into my leg -- but I really do not want to injure her, or have her associate any negativity with me. I'm at a bit of a loss. I know that this is a behaviour that needs to be stopped immediately, but I also know that this is a trial behaviour to get my attention, so if I remove her from my leg, she is getting the attention she was seeking. I suppose that if I give her the attention she is seeking BEFORE she tries to climb me, this behaviour could well be forgotten -- but I do still need to wash my face, etc.

Suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
post #2 of 13
Originally Posted by SimonesMom View Post

I know that this is a behaviour that needs to be stopped immediately, but I also know that this is a trial behaviour to get my attention, so if I remove her from my leg, she is getting the attention she was seeking. I suppose that if I give her the attention she is seeking BEFORE she tries to climb me, this behaviour could well be forgotten -- but I do still need to wash my face, etc.
Your kitten must be very young to climb up your leg instead of jumping on something else to reach you. This is normal behavior and it will go away once the kitten learns better ways to say hello.
Why not just place your kitten outside the bathroom in a carrier safe from the "other critters" until you are done using the bathroom?
If this is not an option you can try hissing like a mommycat to tell the kitten you don't want her up your legs. It will discourage her and she will probably sit for a while looking hurt. But once you are done, please give her a snuggle and a treat as a reward for being a good girl then bring her out of the bathroom for a short exploration of her new home!
post #3 of 13
Give her attention when you enter the room, then go about doing what you need to do. If she starts climbing your leg, take her and put her down; don't pet her, ignore her. If she climbs again, put her down again and keep ignoring her. It may take a few lessons but this should teach her that her negative behavior (climbing you) results in negative results (no attention). After she has behaved herself, give her some more attention.
post #4 of 13
Just say "ow!"

If your kitten doesn't get the response she is after with the climbing, she will try something else. Don't respond except for exhibiting pain, which they will soon understand, if they haven't already.

Once they back off because they have made you say "ow!" you can suggest an alternative. For instance, if you don't mind them up on the counter in the bathroom, put her there where she can watch you do the fascinating ritual of washing your face, so different from the way she washes hers. If you really want to blow her mind (which it always fun) you can use the side of your hand to move the foam or cream around, and she will soon pick up on that different way you wash our face.

They are curious about everything, and want to share. As they get older and more sophisticated, they will want to smell the cream or watch in curiosity.

If getting her around the basin doesn't appeal, put her on the clothes hamper or on top of the toilet. anywhere she can be a part of what you are doing so intently.
post #5 of 13
Thread Starter 
Thank you all. I will give them a try, & see which is most effective. I personally don't mind her up on the counter with me, but DH is probably not going to be so appreciative of the audience for shaving

I don't know why I didn't think of hissing at her, I howl & bark at/with my dogs & chirp at/with my birds, what's one more animal noise in the repetoir?

Thank you all for your advice.
post #6 of 13
Hey and welcome! Sorry to sound a bit abrupt but allow me to maybe speak for her briefly...........For whatever reasons you have asked her as a young kitten (judging age by the description of climbing your leg) to partially live confined in solitude in your bathroom. The time that she is confined, alone, allows her to explore all and every inch of (hope any dangerous items are removed) and become very lonely, begging for attention when another is present in the one room you have basically given her. Sorry to say, but if you have to confine a kitten in a small room where you are not, for whatever reasons, your home is not ready for a kitten or cat. Being that this is what is, you need to respect the fact that you have asked her to live in a small room, alone, and that you regularly use, and give her the attention she needs, as a kitten especially.
post #7 of 13
Thread Starter 
Thank you for your input -- I appreciate it.
I can understand your point of view, and I commend you for putting it in writing.
The well-being of the living creatures (human & non) that we share our lives with should be first & foremost on our minds. I try very hard to live this way. Simone comes to work with me when I'm working long hours, or if there is no one else home. My son & DH spend time with her as well as I. She is loved-on, cooed at, fawned over, and played with. I agree somewhat with your interpretaion that my home was not ready for a kitten. She was an unexpected blessing, but I could not turn my back on her, knowing that I could provide a safe and loving home, proper food & veteranary care, which was obviously more than her mother had been granted (6mos old stray). I have managed to find loving homes for 5 of the seven kittens at this point in time, as well as mom (who will be spayed shortly).
I am certainly aware that there is a learning curve I am up against, but I think that I am generally pretty good with all of the rescued, adopted, and planned creatures that I share my home and life with. My bathroom is not a dark closet into which Simone is caged all day & all night. It is actually quite large -- large enough for her to chase her balls around (much to her delight). Her safety & security is my concern.
We are slowly introducing her to my dogs at the moment, but until I am entirely confidant that everyone involved is at ease with the living arrangements, I feel it is my resposibility to do everything in my power to keep every safe. I'm sure you can agree with my logic here.

Again, I thank you for your concern, insight and any & all advise. It is appreciated.
post #8 of 13
Young kittens are often initially confined to a single room--I don't see the problem here. Naturally she must be played with and interacted with often; but with big dogs in the house, that would be safest. Can you imagine a 50 pound dog trying to play rough with a little kitten? Not a pretty thought. Best to wait 'til she can put a claw into his nose if she needs to!
post #9 of 13
Congratulations on your new addition! Well done for helping out with the mum cat and her kittens It sounds as if you are doing well and taking introductions to your dogs slowly and safely. If your dogs are not accustomed to having a cat in the house, you need to train them to see the kitten as one of their pack. Introductions are best done initially with the dog on a leash, and training/correction given to the dog not to bother the cat too much or chase. Let the kitten come to the dog, and let the dog sniff at first, with the dog under control - even if it is a friendly calm dog, it can be frightening to the kitten at first!

The whole leg-climbing thing is fairly normal kitten behaviour which should pass, but you can gently correct the kitten by saying no and placing it repeatedly back on the floor. My cats are 'trained' to understand 'no', 'let go' (meaning retract claws), and 'get on the floor'. I use the word trained in the loosest sense, as even the most well behaved cat is a bit of a free-spirit at heart! That's one of the things about them I find so endearing!

As you are experienced with handling dogs but not cats, it is worth pointing out that cats do not have any social-motivation/pack mentality so they are quite unlike dogs and you cannot use the same methods to train them - they are not motivated at all by social acceptance, and are not interested whether you as their leader/alpha is pleased or displeased with them. Healthy food rewards are a very good way of guiding/bribing a cat towards acceptable behaviour though!
post #10 of 13
Thread Starter 
Thank you again for your insights, they are greatly appreciated.
I do understand that cats are not motivated by the same things as dogs, and therefore hearing about your successful methods is a wonderful asset.

BTW -- My 50lbs dog is actually 180lbs of drooling English Mastiff. He's such a jealous velcro dog, it is taking a while to settle him down around Simone. Not that he's be aggressive at all, just overly interested, which is proving more than a little intimidating for little Simone, so we are taking things VERY slowly. I don't want there to be anything negative with these little interactions, or I'm going to have an even more difficult transition with them. Just a couple minutes at a time, lots of cooing over everybody, & a whole lot of treats for calm behaviour. I also have a tough Boston Terrier who is being surprisingly passive about this new furry addition.
post #11 of 13
Oooh! Those are beautiful dogs--mastiffs, I mean... huge big dogs that look a little like bulldogs, right? I think my neighbor might have one; it's a brown color with black around the nose...
post #12 of 13
Originally Posted by SimonesMom View Post
BTW -- My 50lbs dog is actually 180lbs of drooling English Mastiff.
That would intimidate me let alone a wee little kitten! I know some people who have a Rottie that ever so carefully picks up their kitten and carries him around by his head.
post #13 of 13
I am sorry if I offended, I was not trying to do so, I only was suggesting that if you are worried about her safety because of your dogs and it sounds that you are very busy/on the go people, that a kitten may be a bit challenging right now. I completely hear in your words that you are very caring, loving pet owners and want to do the best for all of them as well as your selves. I guess I was merely trying to support your original thoughts of knowing she needs attention and suggest allowing a bit extra time in the morning to give it to her. Maybe you can create a perch for her to sit higher next to you while you are getting ready. Some type of box steps so she can jump up to the toilet seat. Definitely no physical discipline, cats, especially as kittens,are more imprint memory/cause and effect reaction. Example kittens between ages 2-6 months that travel (cars, other) often, even once a month, grow up to travel well as adults. Even if not for a couple years they will remember the experience from kitten-hood and possibly need a little reassurance but never forget that this is familiar and safe, enough to not freak like one who is not familiarized as a kitten. The surroundings, interactions, and experiences a kitten/s have wen we become "mom kitty" are up to us, the rest is up to them!
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