Teach Your Kitten to Enjoy Being Touched

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You’ve just brought a new kitten home to the family. Although it’s loads of fun to watch this revved up little being run, tumble and explore everything, you need to start the training process right away. Many cat parents are good at kitten-proofing the home, teaching kitty where the food and litter are, etc., but one area where people don’t plan ahead is teaching the youngster to accept being touched. Looking at your healthy, active, fun-loving kitten, it’s hard to picture a time in the future when she’ll need medication (either orally or topically). If you haven’t gotten her comfortable with having her ears handled or having your fingers near her mouth then I’m pretty sure the first time you attempt to medicate her won’t be a pleasant experience for anyone. Young Kitten

Be a Gentle Teacher

Kittenhood is also the time when you want to get your furry new family member introduced to having her teeth cleaned and her nails trimmed. The sooner you expose her to these experiences, the easier it’ll be later on. If you don’t work on nail trimming when your cat is a kitten you stand a very good chance of never being able to safely keep those nails in good shape. You don’t want to have to make a trip to the veterinary clinic once a month just to do nail trimming when you have the opportunity right now to begin the training process.

It Begins with Touch

Start off on the right foot by planning ahead and preparing your cat to accept and hopefully even enjoy being touched. Some kitties like being touched in particular areas but are sensitive about other parts of their body. Many cats can be paw-shy and they don’t like having their claws touched.  Help your kitten learn to associate being touched in sensitive areas by petting near that area one or two times and then offering a treat. playful kitten on his back

If you have a kitten who dislikes having her ears handled, stroke her on the back of the head or on the chest and then offer a treat or a little portion of her regular food. You’ll quickly learn your cat’s petting area preferences. Gradually ease into being able to offer one gentle stroke near an ear and then offer an additional treat. Don’t forget to do the same on the other ear. Slowly work up to being able to touch the ear briefly and then increase the length the time you handle the ear. Don’t overdo it though. Keep the whole experience positive. If done correctly, your kitten will learn that allowing herself to be touched results in something pleasurable and the experience is quick, gentle and safe. It’s critical to your success that the petting session in those sensitive areas be over while it’s still a positive experience. If you touch the ear or another body part too long, you risk having your kitten start to struggle and then she’ll begin to associate the experience with something unpleasant.kitten

The Sooner the Better

Remember, start early and be gentle. Take baby steps and always end on a positive note. If you’re consistent you’ll increase your chances of having an adult cat who comfortably tolerates teeth cleaning, ear cleaning, nail trimming, grooming, tick removal or anything else that requires being touched.

Need More Information?

For more specifics on helping your kitten bond with you or for step-by-step instructions on kitten training, refer to the book Think Like a Cat by Pam Johnson-Bennett.




We’re sorry but Pam is unable to respond to questions or remarks posted in the comment section. If you have a question about cat behavior, you can find many answers in the articles Pam writes for the website as well as in her best-selling books. 









About Pam Johnson-Bennett

Pam Johnson-Bennett is the host of Animal Planet UK's PSYCHO KITTY, She is a best-selling author of nine books, including Think Like a Cat: how to raise a well-adjusted cat – not a sour puss. For over 25 years, her books have been called cat bibles by veterinarians, behavior experts, shelters and cat parents worldwide. Pam is considered a pioneer in the field of cat behavior consulting. Pam owns Cat Behavior Associates, a private veterinarian-referred behavior company in Nashville, TN.

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