A few newbie questions

Discussion in 'Cat Training and Behaviour' started by ByzantineByron, Dec 7, 2017.

  1. ByzantineByron

    ByzantineByron PetForums Newbie

    Dec 7, 2017
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    Hi all,

    First post here so hopefully I'm in the right place and apologies if I'm not!

    So me and my wife decided to get our first pet recently and we opted for a kitten from a rescue centre (we both love dogs but knew we wouldn't have the time to devote to a dog because of our work patterns) picking up and taking home Nala that day (12 week old Domestic Shorthair)

    Nala struggled to settle in due to her meowing and crying a lot and we read up on all the benefits of having two kittens so we adopted her last remaining littermate, Duchess a few days later.

    Now as first time pet owners we kind of want to make sure we're doing things right and have a few questions;

    1. At the moment they are in the living room during the day when we are at work and have everything they need (food, water, litter, cat tree, toys, access to windowsill). In the evening when we go to bed we put them in the 3rd bedroom, which has the same necessities (minus the cat tree). Is there a time where we can let them have free reign of the house during the day? Could what we do at the moment work long term?
    2. How do you stop them attacking a Christmas Tree. We want to put ours up tonight.
    3. How do you stop them climbing on counters? We are aware that cats like the explore but we want the counters to be off-limits and spraying a mix of orange extract and water doesn't deter them for long.
    4. By extension how would you get them to leave us alone at dinner time?
    5. How do you get them to stop chewing on cables?
    6. Finally, what sort of punishments would work without scaring them too much?
    7. How old should they be before they go outside?
    I'm aware it sounds like a lot of negatives, but we love our babies and just want to make sure we are raising them right.

    Thanks in advance!
    #1 ByzantineByron, Dec 7, 2017
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2017
  2. Gallifreyangirl

    Gallifreyangirl PetForums Senior

    Feb 11, 2015
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    Hi welcome to the boards and I am sure our resident experts @chillminx will be along to help soon.
  3. lea247

    lea247 PetForums Member

    Dec 20, 2016
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    I think I might be able to help with a few of your questions :)

    1. Go by the kittens on this one, if they want to see more of the house they will start scratching at the door. Every cat is different, Arthur had the freedom of the house the day after we brought him home at 12 weeks old. It has the potential to work in the long term I'd say (especially your night time routine) but as I say, go by them. Make sure they have enough places to scratch, at least one per room, maybe more given you have two. We just have Arthur, live in a 2 bed house and he has 5 places to scratch. That includes a tree that's about 5', a post with a platform on the top, a larger post and two smaller ones.

    2. Could you put your tree up somewhere where it can be shut off from them? When they do go to play with the tree, make sure you have toys to divert their attention.

    3. I've managed to successfully train Arthur to avoid the kitchen counters, but he's not quite so good with my OH and my mum when we're at her house. The key is to be firm and quick. When they're on the counter say "No" firmly and then lift them off. If you have space to put a tall (about the height of your worktop) cat tree then rather than put them on the floor, you could put them on that. It can be done, it just takes time.

    4. If the kittens are bothering you because they are interested in your food, it's because they're hungry. Kittens should be eaten as much as they like, little and often.

    5. Again, tell them no and divert their attention. Arthur used to favour the thinner cables used for chargers, we just kept them out of his way and he has since grown out of it.

    6. Not quite sure what you would want to punish them for? Saying "No" firmly and diverting their attention is the key for most things.

    7. This may seem odd, but it depends on what you mean by "go outside". Arthur has been going out in a harness in our yard since he was about 4 months old, as I wanted him to get used to wearing a harness. If you mean free roam, then at least a year old. You could also cat proof your garden (something I intend to do in the future) but that would depend on the size of gaps in fencing etc I would have thought.

    In case you aren't aware as well, cats can be neutered from 4 months of age, have a look at this link to find a vet near you. https://www.cats.org.uk/what-we-do/neutering/enr/menu-early-neutering

    Hope this helps and it would be nice to see Nala and Duchess if you have any pictures. Great names too! I'm a bit of a Disney fan ( at 27 :oops:).
  4. moggie14

    moggie14 PetForums VIP

    Sep 11, 2013
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    Some great advice given by @lea247 :)
    Just wanted to add that kittens will not understand 'punishment'.
    Removing them from an undesirable place eg worktops with a firm no should work but you need to be quick and consistent.
    Distraction from an inappropriate behaviour such as a toy, treat or cuddle.
    Use lots of positive reinforcement for good behaviour with lots of praise.
    Would love to see your girls! x
    Clairabella, buffie and lea247 like this.
  5. chillminx

    chillminx PetForums VIP

    Nov 22, 2010
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    I agree with the advice given by lea247 and moggie14 :)

    A Christmas tree is a magnet for kittens, basically it's just another lovely big toy to them, haha. You really can't stop them attacking it, all you can do is put it out of their reach. Either, as lea247 said, put the tree in a room the kitties are not allowed in, or else fix a shelf high up on the wall, too high for the kitties to jump up on it, and put the tree on that.

    Or do as some people do and hang the tree upside down from the ceiling (looks quite effective and is a big talking point with visitors, LOL)

    If you put the tree anywhere the kitties can get at it then for safety's sake please don't use glass baubles or Christmas tree lights, so the little ones can't injure themselves when they climb the tree.

    Once they are adult cats you may find they will leave the tree alone, though tbh I wouldn't bet on it, LOL. ;) Mine never did, in the days before I gave up having a Christmas tree indoors.
    Nowadays we put outdoor lights on our fir tree in the garden instead at Christmas time, and it looks pretty:)

    Also, as said - do not punish your kittens or your adult cats. Cats do not understand punishment, they don't respond well to it. If you try punishment you will make your kittens wary of you and damage the bond that should be forming between you and them. Cats learn by being redirected to what it is you want them to do. Regular routines reassure them too. A firm "no" is fine, but not a raised voice.

    Jumping on kitchen worktops :- as said, you can keep gently lifting them off and placing them on the floor and they will soon learn not to do it when you are in the kitchen. However, be prepared for the fact they're likely to jump on worktops when you're not there. Cats love being up high. But to discourage exploration of the worktops never leave any food out, whether theirs or yours. And always wipe down the worktops before preparing food. On hot rings on the hob (after cooking) leave pans of cold water so if the kitties do jump up they won't burn their paws.

    Chewing on cables - put away in drawers all cables that are not in use, e.g. phone chargers. Wrap other cables in baking foil (as many cats hate foil) or buy those zip up fabric cable guards that bunch all the cables together. When TV etc is not in use, do not leave on standby but switch off at the wall.

    As for going outside I am another one who does not allow kittens outdoors until they are at least a year old. They are too young and scatty before that, and take too many risks with their safety. I have never had a problem keeping kittens indoors until a year old. Just give them plenty to do, and places to climb and explore.
  6. buffie

    buffie Mentored by Meeko

    May 31, 2010
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    Agree with all of the above , all I will add is that if I were you I would give up on keeping worktops etc cat free ,life is far to short .
    Just learn to put everything away so that it is safe for inquisitive furry people and wipe down before use ,less stress all round ;)