How to train a kitten to play gently - Cat training tips
How to Put a Hyper Kitten to Sleep
If you have a new kitten, he may be very active. Kittens and adult cats are nocturnal hunters by nature, so being active at night is to be expected. Young kittens tend to have a lot of energy, and a frequent complaint among owners is their kitten keeps them up at night. There are a variety of ways to encourage a kitten to sleep through the night.
Establishing a Bedtime Ritual
Allow rest and stimulation during the day.It's normal for kittens to sleep through most of the day, especially young ones. When they are awake, though, they are full of energy. Let them nap, but provide scratching posts, toys, and things to climb for when they wake up.A bored kitten during the day is a hyper kitten at night.
- Keep most of the exciting, interactive toys hidden when you're not actively involved. If you leave a toy out on the floor all day, the cat usually loses interest.Do not leave out toys with string, since these can be dangerous when tangled around the kitten.
- Puzzle games are an excellent way to keep the cat entertained. These challenge the cat to open a container to reach a treat inside.
Wear out the kitten with evening playtime.Cats are most active around dusk and dawn, not through the entire night.A daily play session in the late evening, roughly an hour before bed, will help sync this schedule to your own.
- You can mimic play fighting with a toy on a string, play fetch with a ping pong ball, or play chase with a laser pointer. Rotate toys to keep it exciting and to provide a mix of stalking, chasing, pouncing, and toying with the "prey."
- Wake the kitten up if necessary. You shouldn’t have to keep this up for too long before your pet learns that evenings are for play and nights are for sleep.
Bring playtime to an end.It's best to end playtime before the kitten gets bored. First, spend five minutes slowing down the pace of play to calm the kitten down. Find a clear way to signal that playtime is over, for example by letting the kitten catch an extra enticing toy.
- If your kitten is getting hyperactive near the end of playtime, distract its attention to a less exciting toy.
Give the kitten a bedtime meal.Make this a high-protein meal that completes the kitten's food needs for the day.Cats in the wild hunt, then eat, then sleep, so this playtime and food routine mimics this pattern.
- If your cat wakes you up in the morning meowing for food, delay the evening meal until just before you get in bed, instead of before you get ready.This way the cat has less time to wait between meals.
Head to bed.Start your normal bedtime routine with the kitten watching. This teaches your kitten which activities signal bedtime for both of you, and helps establish a routine.
Calm the kitten in a comfortable sleeping area.Turn out the lights and bring the kitten to its bed. Hopefully the kitten will be tuckered out at this point. If not, calm it down with cuddles or by playing relaxing "music for cats" from online playlists. Repeat this routine every day, and the kitten should learn to adapt.
- Cats are natural observers and enjoy being up high to observe household activities. A high perch or "cat condo" is a great sleeping spot, as long as your kitten is old enough to climb it safely.
Dealing with Nighttime Activity
Keep your kitten in a separate room at night.While you might love the idea of snuggling up with your feline friend at bedtime, keep hyperactive kittens out of the bedroom until they've matured or adapted to your schedule.
- When the time comes for bed, close the door and do not let your cat in. He may cry or scratch at the door for a bit, but as long as you do not reward the behavior by letting the cat in, he should stop.
- If your kitten keeps scratching at the door for prolonged periods, try creating a device to deter him from going to the door. Try putting double-sided tape near the door, or vinyl carpet cover with the knobby side pointed upward.
Warm up a blanket for your kitten.Sometimes, kittens disrupt owners' sleep because they miss the warmth of their mothers and siblings. If your cat wants to crawl into bed with you, try warming the cat's blanket in the dryer for twenty minutes before bedtime.
Put away noisy toys.Sometimes the most annoying part of a hyper kitten is the noise its toys make. Packing away the toys reinforces that night is time for sleeping instead. If the kitten is still active at night, provide quiet, soft toys instead of hard toys or anything that squeaks or jangles.
- If you have the space, set up the quiet nighttime toys in a separate area of your home. Choose a location with an appealing distraction, such as a quiet film or radio, or a window with a view of an outdoor light.
Implement the “do nothing” rule.Paying attention to hyper kittens encourages them to keep up that behavior. If a kitten bugs you to the point that you start playing with it, feeding it, or giving it some type of attention, it will repeat that behavior over and over, because it's trained you to respond! The first few nights will be difficult, but ignoring the kitten is the best way to teach it that you are not available 24/7.
- While not a quick fix, this type of training is important for a kitten’s future. Your kitten needs to learn early on that it cannot initiate feeding or play at any time of day.
Discipline your kitten with love.It may seem counter-intuitive, but if ignoring your kitten doesn't stop it from bugging you, reach out and give it a massive hug. You’ll notice it probably won’t be overly impressed with this excessive love, and that’s a good thing. It teaches the cat that annoying you at night leads to the wrong result, without actually punishing the animal.
Provide breakfast that doesn’t require you to wake up.Cats have a shorter sleep cycle than humans. Even if your kitten goes to bed at the same time as you, it will probably wake up early looking for breakfast or attention. The absolute worst thing you can do is get up and give them that attention. If you do, they’ll have your trained perfectly in no time! Instead, make sure there’s some food left out the night before that they can eat breakfast before you get up.
- Consider an automatic feeder that dispenses food at specific intervals. If your kitten knows there will be food in its bowl around 7 am, it won’t bug you for breakfast. Instead your kitten will wait by the bowl until the food appears.
- If your kitten meows for food in the night, consider setting the automatic feeder for a nighttime meal. Move the mealtime forward by ten minutes a night until your kitten eats in the morning.
Seeking Veterinary Care
Get your kitten spayed or neutered.If your kitten has not already been spayed or neutered, this may be contributing to hyperactivity. Most veterinarians consider this procedure safe for kittens as young as six to eight weeks old, as long as the animal weighs at least two pounds (0.9 kg).The procedure should prevent the following types of behavior (at day or night):
- Female cats can go into heat when as young as four months old. They tend to make loud, unusual noises, rub against people and objects, and try to get outside.
- Un-neutered males are generally more active and noisier than neutered ones. They may also spray furniture or act aggressive.
Watch for signs of medical problems.Cats can suffer from medical issues that disturb sleep, just like humans. If your kitten shows any of these symptoms, have a vet conduct a full examination:
- Meowing for much of the night sometimes means the cat is in pain.
- Active behavior for most of the day and night points to insomnia or another disorder. It's common for kittens to sleep 20 hours a day.
- Sudden hyperactivity in a previously calm cat can be a sign of a thyroid disorder, although this is rare in young cats.A vet can detect this with a blood test and prescribe daily medication.
Look into synthetic pheromones.These products are designed to mimic a cat's facial pheromones, the substances cats rub onto objects with their face to mark them as familiar. Unfortunately, there are few high quality studies of the synthetic version. You can try it to see whether your kitten calms down, but there's no guarantee it will work.
- Homeopathic calming treatments, including "flower remedies," are not based on science.
QuestionMy kittens scratch me all the time. How do I get them to stop?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerDon't let kittens play with your hands and feet — use a toy instead. When one scratches you, clap your hands, say "no," and immediately move to another room until the kitten calms down. It may also help to move the kitten to a scratching post and reward her for using it.Thanks!
QuestionWhat can I do if I work and can only play during the evenings?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerHave a quick play session before you leave for work, and a longer one just before bed. Keep your kitten's favorite toys out so she can play on her own too. It's good to have two play sessions in a day.Thanks!
QuestionHow do I get my cat to stop playing with my blinds?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerPut double sided tape on the blinds and on the surface beneath. Cats hate the feeling of something sticky.Thanks!
QuestionMy cat makes a lot of noise at night and broke our heater. What should I do?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerFollow step two in the article. Play with your cat until it's completely worn out, and that will encourage it to sleep during the night. You can also give it some quiet things to do at night, like a cat tree to climb or a tube to run in.Thanks!
QuestionMy kitten is super tired during the day, and super playful during the night. I usually stay up late. Could that have something to do with it?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYes. She is probably most active when you are most active.Thanks!
QuestionWhere can I buy the toys needed for playtime?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerMost pet supply stores have plenty of toys. You can usually find a few in the pet section of a supermarket as well.Thanks!
QuestionHow do you treat a deep cat scratch?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerJust like you would treat any other deep cut: wash it very well with soap, put antiseptic and antibacterial cream on it, and wrap/bandage it if you'd like. Read this article if you are concerned about infection.Thanks!
QuestionI read on what to do when your kitten is acting up, but whenever I put my kitten in her carrier for misbehaving she walks out of it. So what should I do?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerTraining a cat isn't easy. The main reason to put one in a carrier is to deprive her of attention — it's fine if she walks out, as long as you leave her alone in the room for a little while. If your cat isn't motivated by attention-seeking, or if she responds badly to the discipline (for instance by peeing on the floor), try to come up with ways to divert her behavior in a positive way. For example, reward her for using a climbing structure or scratching post instead of climbing and scratching furniture.Thanks!
QuestionHow do I get my cat to accept blankets?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerTry warming up a blanket in the dryer. Right before bed, take the blanket out and make a little spot for your cat on your bed, so they have their own spot. If your cat still doesn't accept the blanket, try different fabrics.Thanks!
QuestionWhat about a nap? I want my kitten to take a quick nap.wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerCats like to nap in warm, draft-free places, especially after a meal. Your kitten might snuggle up next to you, or he might think you're too exciting and want to play! If this happens, tuck him into a warm cat bed and leave the room. If he refuses to nap, he might not be getting enough playtime.Thanks!
- If you have a backyard, consider installing a birdhouse, or at least opening the curtains so the kitten can watch the outside world.
- Adopting a playmate is one way to keep a kitten entertained and exercised during the day.Kittens tend to get along when introduced at a young age, but you may still need to keep them in separate rooms for a few days. Seek advice from a veterinarian or animal behaviorist first if your kitten comes from an abusive home or displays aggressive behaviors.
- Most cats and kittens are lactose intolerant and won’t react well to being fed cow’s milk. If you want to provide your cat or kitten with milk, make sure it’s something designed specifically for cats.
- Do not train your cat using any form of physical punishment. Animals do not respond well to punishment, and often have trouble learning what they're being punished for. If you need to get your kitten out of your hair, shut it in a room where it can entertain itself for a while.
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