How to Train a Kitten

Updated: 12/15/20232-4 minutes
Girl training her kitten

Believe it or not, kittens need training. They need to learn how to use a litter box, where they can—and cannot—scratch and they need to be comfortable in a carrier.

If you want your cat to socialize with other pets or people in your home and avoid clawed up furniture, training is a must.

Kitten Training Tips

How to Teach Your Kitten Her Name

This is one of the first things you’ll want to teach your new kitten. Once you choose her name, call her by only that name until she learns to respond.  

Don’t scold her with her name while she’s learning. To create a positive association with her name, say it in a calm and gentle tone while petting and cuddling her, and use a happy and excited tone while playing.

Teach Her Where to Scratch

Kittens instinctually want to scratch. It helps them stretch their muscles and maintain the health of their nails. Plus, it’s a way of marking their territory. Cats like scratching both vertically and horizontally, so provide her both options (ideally in different location) if you can. If you don’t provide adequate areas for her to scratch, you’re likely to find claw marks on your floors and furniture.  

Give your kitten a scratching post where she can stretch and scratch her nails. You can encourage her to use the post by attaching a toy or rubbing it with catnip. Give her lots of praise for using it.  

If she’s started scratching furniture, you can make it less appealing to her by covering with a tight-fitting sheet or moving a plant to block her access. If you catch your cat in the act of scratching furniture, interrupt her by saying  “No” in a firm voice, then gently pick her up and place her in front on her scratching post to show her the correct alternative. Often, she’ll start using her correct scratching post right away and this is the perfect moment to provide lots of praise. 

How to Litter Train Your Kitten

Most kittens will know how to use their litter box if they spent the first few weeks of life with a litter-trained mother. You can help yours understand by placing her in her litter box once every hour to start.  

Watch your kitten for signs she needs to go. She may begin nosing in corners or squatting. If she does, place her in her litter box. Gently scratch her front paws in the litter to teach her to deposit and bury her waste there. Give her a lot of praise any time she uses it. 

While she’s small and learning, she may need a smaller box with lower sides for easier access. Re-using a cardboard box and cutting a side lower to help her access it can be a good idea. To encourage continued use of the litter box, scoop it daily.  

Use an enzymatic cleaner to clean up out-of-box accidents to discourage her from urinating in the same spot.  

Getting a Kitten Used to a Cat Carrier

Getting your kitten used to being in a cat carrier from an early age will make visits to your veterinarian, groomer and other places less stressful for you both. 

Instead of packing the carrier away and only bringing it out when it’s time to go somewhere, keep it accessible so she can come and go as she pleases. You can make it more inviting by adding a cozy cat bed and her favorite toys. Giving her treats in the carrier can also help.  

After she’s comfortable with going into the carrier herself, make sure you also practice closing the carrier door, picking up the carrier and walking around with it. This will help ease any anxiety she may get when it’s time for a visit to the veterinarian. Take it slow and go at the kitten’s pace.  

The Importance of Kitten Training

Kitten training is an important part of raising a well-behaved cat. Training can also keep her safe from hazards, reduce accidents in the house and make leaving the house together less stressful. With consistency and positive reinforcement, your kitten will gain confidence, know her name and know how to use her litter box in no time.  

For more kitten training and cat care tips from our experts, visit our Pet Expertise page.

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