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Mistakes You Made with Your Kittens

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 
HI Everyone!

DH & I are raising our three kittens and we aren't letting them bite hands or claw at hands, etc. But, I am always afraid I am creating bad habits by allowing certain behaviors. (ie. they all meow when I prepare food, should I put them in another room?)

What are some things you feel you should have done with your cats when they were kittens that have turned into bad habits as adults.

I think this would be a super helpful thread to our little cat family.

post #2 of 15
The only things that I can think of off the top of my head...

1. The only time we put them in the carrier or took them in the car was to go to the vet's office... Now they KNOW what the carrier means and what getting in the car means.

If I had to do it over again, I'd take them out in the car more often, etc.

2. They were not socialized around large crowds, loud noises, or dogs...I think that once they had their shots, etc. I wish that I would have taken them to petsmart, etc...and/or let friends w/ cat-friendly dogs come over. This may prove to be a problem because I know that I want to have a dog within the next few years.

3. I did not buy them a cat tree until recently...I think that if they had a large tree to play on from the beginning, it would encourage them to scratch/climb/play on it more so than the couches, etc.

Some things that I did right that I would like to tell you about:

1. Discouraged biting/clawing at hands by "hissing" and "scruffing" them like their real "mother" would have.... Now I have zero problems with play biting, etc.

2. I clipped their nails at least weekly, sometimes 2 times a week...now I do not have hardly any problems doing this.

3. Gave them baths, about once every 2 weeks...Now they tolerate them well.


Very cute pics btw! I especially love the orange and b/w ones...my two rescued kittens are an orange tabby boy and a b/w boy.
post #3 of 15
What a cute cat family! Aw
It was smart to get more than one.

I don't have much to say but wanted to point out about the meowing while you are fixing their food, that is very normal. I know some cats that wake their owners up demanding food . Some cats can be very food motivated. Some cats also are naturally talkers and want to talk all the time, not much you can do about that.

I second the suggestions above. Cat trees and lots of toys are a must. And get them used to grooming now while they are little.
post #4 of 15
Although I'm new to cats and we've only had Jack since Halloween (he is abotu 7 months old) I will agree with socialization. In the area we live we have no friends etc so literally nobody has been in our apartment to visit Jack.

In 3 weeks we are moving to a place where family will be visiting, friends etc and I hope that Jack learns to trust other people. He was a stray kitten on the street we rescued and has become very very attached to DH and myself.

I'm crossing my finger that he doesn't turn into "that cat" that hides when visitors come over. He is so friendly and funny and I want other people to witness and enjoy that stuff.

post #5 of 15
To allow her to sit on my computer chair! Now she has totally claimed it as her own and I have been cast off to using a dining chair to work!
post #6 of 15
The only really bad habit that any of mine ended up with is scratching on wood. That one was partially my fault though because I didn't get anything acceptable for him to scratch on that he liked until recently. I had tried several things, but never sisal for some reason. I got a sisal scratching post and he started using it right away.

Here are a few things I did do that I think helped. . .

1. I harness trained all of mine from the time I got them. Now they are all easy to get into a harness, this helps when I take them to Petsmart.
2. I take them all to Petsmart (not at the same time of course). I started doing this as soon as they had their shots (and their vet is at Petsmart so they were exposed to the noise and stuff beforehand). This helped them all get comfortable with people and other pets and I only take one at a time so it gives me some special time with one of my kitties .
3. I take them outside on their leashes (Mercury actually walks around the neighborhood with me). Usually I just use the long lead and let them explore and sometimes I hook them up to the front porch. . . They LOVE this, and I think that it helps them become familar with their territory. They never go outside alone, and they know that. I don't normally have a problem with any of them because they associate the harness with outside. No harness= no outside because I have never taken them out without it, even if they are in a crate, their harness is on.

I thought of a few things that I wish I had done, and will start to do now.

1. Found more cat friendly dogs. I had a few come over, but one was not very friendly and the other was rather young and too hyper. . . I did have a friend's dog living in my basement for about two months, but I didn't do much to get the cats used to him. He was in the basement most of the time because Mercury REALLY didn't like him (and the dog, who was not small, was scared of him) and because the dog had decided that no matter how much I took him outside, he had to use my house as his bathroom. Anyway, I am not sure how my cats will react to a dog now.
2. Had more people in general come over I guess? I don't know, it's the wierdest thing, none of my cats are really scared of people at Petsmart, but for some reason, Nemo and Bentley still run and hide whenever anyone comes over, unless they have known them for quite a while.
post #7 of 15
Your kittens are so small - too young to really 'get' very much of anything you teach them for longer than about 2 seconds, so don't be disappointed if, as they get older (before becoming mature) they go wild and crazy, tearing up your place and getting into everything - it's just what they do and punishment or yelling doesn't work - they never connect what they've done with the consequences! Oh well, enjoy their cuteness now! BTW - what a nifty looking couple you are!
post #8 of 15
the only thing i can think of isn't something i did wrong, but just something i wish hadn't happened!

I had martini for maybe 3 weeks when we found out she had ringworm. She spent the next few months in isolation in my room (per vet's orders). Now she is extremely skittish around people. it's hard because no one believes me when i say how loving she is (she's curled up on me right now)... whenever she sees anyone else she hisses and runs away. and now on top of it all, my roommate locks poor martini in my room whenever i'm not home....

when i first got martini, she would go up to strangers and fall asleep on their laps, now she will smell them but if they try to pet her she runs and hides. she's still young (9 months) so i'm hoping i can get her out of this

socialization is definitely important!
post #9 of 15
Thread Starter 
Thanks for all the responses! Socialization seems like a big one. We too are in a situation where we only have a couple friends who come over and visit us regularly. So, I'll make sure that we invite others over during this crucial period. We have harnesses for all three of them and leashes, but because they are so tiny we are using them as play toys for now. That is a great idea about bringing over kitten friendly dogs because some time in our life we will want a dog and we want the transition to be as smooth as possible whenever that happens. We've been clipping thier nails and grooming them, but giving them a bath is something we need to get them used to! We will start on that.

Unfortunately they are getting a lot of socialization at the veterinary office. Their first visit was Tuesday and they LOVED it!! Even loved the vet and exploring the examination table (go figure), even though he took thier temperature anally. But, E.T. hurt his leg today and so we will take them all in (they travel better together) tonight and then again on Monday for E.T.'s eye surgery. poor E.T. he's such a tough little guy!
post #10 of 15
Hard to resist those cute kitten faces

I think most kitten problems are people just letting kittens run loose in the entire house when they first get them - too overwhelming.

Or if you have older cats, you expect them to like the kittens in a few days. It can take weeks or months.

As far as feeding/preparing food - I'm assuming you mean preparing YOUR meal - not theirs. Our cats and dogs are in the kitchen when cooking. They get one sample and then have to wait till after we eat before they are fed.

If you don't want them in the kitchen when you are preparing food, put them in another room with some toys.
post #11 of 15
One thing we did wrong was playing with her with our hands.. glad to hear you're not doing that!

However one thing we did right was get her used to being in the car (and actually enjoy it!) and get her used to change (change of environment, food, etc.)
post #12 of 15
What an adorable family! There are some great suggestions above. I can't stress enough how important it is to travel with your kittens when ever you can. Taking them on car rides to a friends house, shopping, any simple errand at this critical development stage will make the difference of traveling as adults. Also trimming their claws, cleaning their ears, complete trust and give with handling. And I really like the suggestion of introducing a cat tree at a younger age to avoid unwanted scratching behavior!
Oh yeah, a major pre-training behavior............Don't let kittens on counters, ever! Its best to discourage them from any table surface. Their first 4 months of development, what they experience, social and physical behavior practiced is an essential part of the cat they become!
post #13 of 15
Socialization. Our 2 year old cat has always traveled with us, but we never made a big effort to socialize him. He's merely tolerant of the car and other people's homes, and when we get there he just remains in the guest bedroom where we put his litter box and food. He also tends to act like the harness is killing him when we put it on. With our new kitten, we started putting him in the harness just to snuggle or play. He's great in the car and will snuggle on the passengers lap. He was great at the vet, not scared at all and even gave the vet kisses on the nose after getting his vaccinations. He went on the leash to a real estate office and walked around with us and visited all of the agents. He got to visit and play with MIL and FIL's cats. It's much easier to go places with Gus.
post #14 of 15
the best thing I ever did was teach "sit" It began as a cute little trick for treats - but really came in handy on days when feeding time was later than usual - Jassie (when she was really hungry) would climb up my leg as I prepared her food. Now all I have to say is "sit' even without a treat in hand, and she waits patiently...It's AWESOME!!
the worst (I have a few of these).....when they didn't eat their food right away, I would switch to a different flavor, until I found one they would eat...I figured out quickly how to create a finicky eater ( and spoiled kitties)...stopped that rather quickly!!
Oh! one more no no! (and I'm to embarrassed to get into details) Don't hand feed them!!
post #15 of 15
My hubby trained his cat from kitten-hood to be in the car, without a carrier, and it makes car rides SO much more pleasant. He just trained him that he's never ever allowed down near the driver's feet, but that anywhere else in the car is ok (just no one is allowed to adjust seats without making sure they know where the cat is, of course!) -- and now Archimedes (the kitty) LOVES going on long car rides. He just climbs around, sitting in people's laps, and looking out of windows. He seems to find the whole thing entirely exciting.

It also made it MUCH easier the one time we had to take him to the emergency vet late-ish at night. He just curled up in my lap the entire drive there (Hour and a half... ugh), being sad and unhappy about his abscess. It made him and us feel better having him out and in one of our laps, instead of caged up.

Hubby never had any troubles with it-- just took the kitten on rides with him, had the carrier in the car, but would open it up once they got moving, and let the cat do what it wanted. It got used to things pretty quickly.
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