Monday, May 25, 2009 5:19 PM

The Training of Kittens 1-2-3

For the first weeks, you will need to dedicate one room to store your kittens, especially if you have other pets. Even if you don’t have a menagerie, it’s best to keep their world small at first and let them explore as they get bigger and more sure of themselves. By this time, of course, you’ll have removed any breakable items and covered the furniture unless you want it trashed! Set up the room with a litter box with sides low enough for them to get in and out of easily, a feeding station with water available at all times, and places where they can hide. For the feeding spot, you may want to place the dishes on an old shower curtain or something waterproof and heavy because, believe me, there WILL be a mess. For that matter, the litter box should probably go on the vinyl, too! Cardboard boxes are good for them to hide in and feel secure. Paper grocery bags (without handles) will work, too.

After you’ve shown them how to use the box (just in case they don’t know), fed and watered them and generally gotten them settled in, it’s time to start the training process. Ha! I’m just kidding. Probably, they will be frightened by this change in their lives and will want nothing to do with you, at first. Don’t worry, this doesn’t last long. After a week or so, you’ll almost wish it had! When I first brought our kittens home after work one day, I quickly set them up in the downstairs guest room. When J. got home from work, it was a surprise, since I hadn’t planned to take them home until the next week. Anyway, I show him into the room and the little buggers were pig-piling one on top of the other in the corner, trying to get away from us! It was very amusing, but J. was disappointed. “They hate us!” he said. I told him that in two days we wouldn’t be able to get out the doors without them sticking to us. This happened within 24 hours, actually. We started calling them the “Velcro cats”.

Once they attach themselves to you (literally!), you’ve got the first step in the process covered: lots and lots of handling. You won’t have much choice, anyway, as they will be constantly grabbing on to you and getting into trouble in a myriad of ways. Plus—you’ll want to! They’re very cuddly. Cats are just like any other creature: The more handling they get, the more they want. This is an easy, enjoyable way to create an affectionate and friendly cat. The bonding you achieve at this stage will follow your cats into adulthood and, believe me, you will never want for feline company!

Ta Da! You’ve begun your “kitten training”! Next post, we’ll talk about
specific ways to tame your "wild" critters.

Movie of the Week: Check out Frozen River, written and directed by Courtney Hunt and starring Melissa Leo. This tale of desperation set against a very desolate landscape in upstate New York features two strong female characters dealing with dire situations not of their making. You will definitely want to see them triumph, despite their methods.
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Amanda has worked with animals for many years and has always had cats in her life. She lives in Massachusetts with her husband and two excellent cats.
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