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Old 09-28-2020, 11:03 AM   #1
charla
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Default New Kitten - help with discipline

We've never had such a young kitten before, and so I'm needing help with how to best go about enforcing some firm boundaries with her. She is two months old, just weaned, and the sweetest thing ever, but I know as a baby she is trying to learn what she can and can't do. I want to enforce the boundaries in the gentlest way possible but I now baby cats and human babies are a lot different. I need help with ideas for the following:


1. I don't want her to sleep on our bed at night but she cries and cries outside of the door. (And sleeping with the door shut creates a weird ac/heat discrepancy in the house).

2. How do I keep her off of things I don't want her to be on - certain tables, counters, our bed, climbing the curtains, etc.

3. She loves to bite on our fingers and act like she is attacking us. That is a huge trigger for me, I admit, as I was attacked out of the blue by a previous cat and it scared me to death. I just don't want her to bite on us period.

Right now I've used a mixture of distraction or re-direction, firmly saying no and removing her, lightly spraying her with water (which feels bad to me but seems to be the most effective), and blocking some areas off I just don't want her in.
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Old 09-28-2020, 11:59 AM   #2
domesticzookeeper
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Default Re: New Kitten - help with discipline

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Originally Posted by charla View Post
1. I don't want her to sleep on our bed at night but she cries and cries outside of the door. (And sleeping with the door shut creates a weird ac/heat discrepancy in the house).
It's so hard to hear that sad little cry But ITU and agree: she doesn't need to sleep with you (and given overall kitten rambunctiousness, I doubt she'd sleep the whole time anyway, and I really doubt that you'd want that).

Does she have her own bed, preferably somewhere elevated? Does she have toys around so she can self-entertain? She will cry because you're her people - her main source of food, cuddles, and play - but she will be okay to just chill for the evening on her own. Eventually she will come to understand the routine, but if the crying persists, I would possibly consider some white noise.



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2. How do I keep her off of things I don't want her to be on - certain tables, counters, our bed, climbing the curtains, etc.
She needs an alternative Are you able to have a cat tree? Or maybe put some simple shelves onto the wall that are "all hers"?

Cats are predatory animals, but they're small enough that they're also prey for larger predators, and they generally do not feel secure or safe if they cannot get to a high place at a moment's notice. Choose your boundaries and feel solid in them (our kitchen counters are a strictly cat-free zone ) but she will want to climb on things, so providing her with options will be less stressful for both of you.

At that age, I would redirect from the counter or cabinets to the cat tree if she wanted to climb (like, just pick her up and put her on the cat tree or whatever is allowed for her) so that she understands climbing is still okay in designated spots.


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Originally Posted by charla View Post
3. She loves to bite on our fingers and act like she is attacking us. That is a huge trigger for me, I admit, as I was attacked out of the blue by a previous cat and it scared me to death. I just don't want her to bite on us period.
It's so, so hard when they're little, but I agree: no biting EVER. Biggest help here will be reading her body language to see when she's verging on a bite (or verging on being just a little overstimulated) and stop playing immediately. If she is persistent, gently but firmly move her away (eg, put her on the floor if she's been on your lap or the couch).

This is such an important skill for kittens to know that if they are feeling overwhelmed, walking away is always an option. They won't be chased or tackled (things other cats do ) and their boundaries for cooling down will be respected. You will have a rock solid older cat if you can emphasize this at a young age

But also, if she's just feeling playful, have some stuffed toys on hand where she can get out those big-predator-in-a-tiny-body feelings. Scratching and biting people? That's a no-no. Scratching, biting, and wrestling a toy? Go for it!


Quote:
Originally Posted by charla View Post
Right now I've used a mixture of distraction or re-direction, firmly saying no and removing her, lightly spraying her with water (which feels bad to me but seems to be the most effective), and blocking some areas off I just don't want her in.
Full disclosure: I have never raised a human But I have raised a lot of cats (who are all model citizens now, if I do say so myself ) and I think a lot of your instincts will help you here. Repetition is key. SO. MUCH. REPETITION. Firm and consistent, rinse and repeat. What you're doing already sounds great! Set her up for success by giving her an outlet for natural behaviors (a post for scratching, toys for chasing, other toys for wrestling, places to climb) and trust that one day all of your boundaries will become clear to her

To be honest, I don't even consider a cat an "adult" until at least 4 years old. 3 years at the barest minimum. The completely bonkers kitten phase will fade more quickly, but the boundary-testing and mischief-making is a surprisingly long phase At least they make up for it with the best cuddles

---------- Post added at 12:59 PM ---------- Previous post was at 12:37 PM ----------



Also, this isn't really a "discipline" issue so much as an issue of habit, but now is great time to get her used to the less-pleasant things in life: touching her feet. Clipping her nails (with much praise and treats!). Climbing into the cat carrier. Going on short drives in the cat carrier.

Kittens are less intensive and a lot more independent than puppies are, but IMO they can still really benefit from intentional socialization and exposure to new experiences The more that she can see and understand that things like nail clipping or car rides are not terrifying and awful, but totally fine and normal, the less she'll need to be wrestled into doing those things when she's much, much bigger
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Old 09-28-2020, 12:20 PM   #3
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Default Re: New Kitten - help with discipline

Wow, all of that is so helpful.

I do think we need to get a cat tree. I think that would help immensely. She has just healed from surgery so I think it would be safe to get her one now.

We used white noise last night to drown out her pitiful cries. It was hard, but I think she eventually settled down.

She does have a bed but she doesn't like it. Maybe because it's on the ground? I have no idea where to put it up high. It's a little basket with a furry blanket.

I think part of the biting is that she is actually still trying to nurse like on our fingers or toes. We redirect her to food then. It's hard to tell the difference between her hunger bites and her playing bites. We did get her a teether toy also that seems to help some when she is in a bitey mood. So every time she bites, I've told her no and either put her down, offered her food, offered her the chew toy, or offered her another toy. It's just hard to tell exactly what she needs in that situation. Maybe I'll learn to read her better.

Good point on getting her used to stuff now like car rides, etc. We plan to board her when we are gone in a couple months so that will be good to get her used to that. And the carrier for vet visits, etc. When our other cat got quite old, we wished we could have boarded him when we were gone because he needed so much extra care, but it would have been something way out of the ordinary for him and we just didn't feel like putting him through a new, stressful experience that late in his life.

I didn't know cat's nails needed clipped.

So lightly misting her with water is not too over the top harsh? It's seems most effective for keeping her out of stuff I don't want her in. She seems to learn really quickly that way, but it feels bad to me.

The cuddles are the best. Our previous kitty didn't like to cuddle at all.
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Old 09-28-2020, 12:48 PM   #4
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Default Re: New Kitten - help with discipline

The previous advice was excellent.

I want to add a couple of thoughts - try a few bed styles. I have one cat whose favorite place is a rarely used chair with a heat reflecting mat on it. Another prefers a little cup style cat bed, but only with the cushion removed. The other's favorite place is a cat bed, again, no cushion, but with a very fuzzy blanket wrapped around it so she can make biscuits in it.

For the tree, get one that is strong, tall and has bigger platforms than you think you need. If you have to sacrifice some of that, keep the height. Cats really need to stretch a lot to get a good scratching post action in well, and enjoy being very high.

We used to have a little carpeted tunnel toy for our first cat. She loved it when we'd fill it with toys that she could hunt. So it was a habit for us to load the tunnel before bed and outings. You could do similar and also leave treats or kibbles there for your baby to discover.

Leave out the carrier. Let it be a safe, cozy place that smells like home first and foremost. Then when you travel, it can be a comfort rather than part of the stress.
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Old 09-28-2020, 12:50 PM   #5
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Default Re: New Kitten - help with discipline

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I didn't know cat's nails needed clipped.
I mean, they don't need to be clipped the same way that a dog's nails do but I personally notice a dramatic reduction in inappropriate scratching of furniture and rugs when their nails are shorter, and (possibly more importantly) it really reduces the risk that even a playful little swipe could draw blood It also makes affectionate kneading a LOT less painful when there aren't tiny needles involved


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Originally Posted by charla View Post
So lightly misting her with water is not too over the top harsh? It's seems most effective for keeping her out of stuff I don't want her in. She seems to learn really quickly that way, but it feels bad to me.
Honestly? I'd follow your heart here I truly don't think that water sprayers are out-and-out bad. When used judiciously, they do teach consequences really quickly, and from enough of a distance that you seem just a little bit omnipotent Mother cats follow up their warnings with corrections. I would never, ever feel comfortable cuffing a kitten the way that their mother would (I think humans are too large and strong to do it right) but that sequence of Warning then Correction is something that makes sense to your kitty. It's not about punishment so much as maintaining a boundary that you've set in a unpleasant but not unkind way. Definitely feel out what makes sense for you and your relationship with her


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The cuddles are the best. Our previous kitty didn't like to cuddle at all.
My sweet, precious 16 year old cat is just NOT a snuggler, but my sister's youngest cat is and I just every time
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Old 09-28-2020, 02:32 PM   #6
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Default Re: New Kitten - help with discipline

You could bottle feed her cat formula for a month.

My mom said to put aluminum foil on places you donít want her to be.
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Old 09-28-2020, 03:16 PM   #7
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Default Re: New Kitten - help with discipline

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You could bottle feed her cat formula for a month.

My mom said to put aluminum foil on places you donít want her to be.
Our cat was a barn kitten, probably taken from his mother a little too soon. When we took him to the vet, the vet thought he was younger than what my friend had thought. Her suggestion was to buy kitten formula and pour it over his food. I am not sure if this applies to your kitty or not...but we found doing that helpful.
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