The excitement of bringing home a new pet is something all cat owners can relate to. Unfortunately, so is the frustration about some of your kitten’s behaviour. It’s important to remember that your new kitten will take some time to feel at home, and she might display some nervous behaviour before she settles into her new home. Here are some tips on understanding your new pet:
- Provide your kitten with a scratching post. Cats need to scratch, and if you help to teach her to scratch the post from day one, she’s less likely to scratch your furniture.
- Kittens have lots of energy, and as they are nocturnal creatures, that energy often comes out at night. So it’s a good idea as a pet owner to help your kitten burn off that energy in playtime, so it doesn’t come out in destructive behaviour. Set aside some time every evening to play with her – not only will it use up her excess energy, it will help establish a bond between you and your precious new playmate.
- Spend lots of time handling your kitten in the first few weeks and months. This helps develop a close bond and makes her feel more at home.
- As predatory animals, cats will chase, stalk and pounce. This behaviour is normal, however, scratches and bites are not fun for new owners. If your kitten starts getting too rough, offer her a cat toy and take your attention away from her to discourage this kind of play.
- When your kitten meows, don’t ignore her. This is her way of communicating with you. Respond to her meows with a noise of your own. She will love the attention.
- If your kitten does the wrong thing – such as scratching you or the furniture, meowing too much or playing too hard – never punish her by hitting her or yelling at her. This will harm your bond and could make her more aggressive. If you need to stop her from doing something, a sharp clap to interrupt the behaviour is enough. But also watch what she is doing and think about what she is trying to communicate or say. She might be hungry, bored or even anxious. Learn her cues and you’ll have a much happier, healthier relationship with your pet.
- Listen to her meows. If they are low-pitched she might be unhappy or anxious. High-pitched meows generally mean she is happy. Purring can mean she is content or that she is anxious – try to learn the difference. Hissing means she is frightened and is trying to protect herself, rubbing often means she is relaxed. If she rolls over she is saying she trusts you. If her ears are pricked it often means she’s interested, but if they are flat she might be gearing up for a fight. Watch out for these behaviours and you’ll soon learn to interpret your cat’s cues.