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Bonding with Your New Kitten

You’ve brought home a new kitten, and you want it to grow into a loving, happy member of your family. Rolan Tripp answers questions on how to make it happen.


If there is hissing and growling, back the bowls up until it stops and then slowly move them closer each time you feed them. But if everyone is relaxed, you can proceed with introductions.

When you do finally get them together, have little pieces of turkey, chicken, hotdogs, or whatever they like and keep feeding them that.


Q: My kitten is biting and scratching! What can I do to make him stop?

A: Rough hand boxing with a cat is a recipe for an aggressive cat that will bite and scratch you and everyone else. Instead, train your kitten not to bite hard or scratch. There’s a concept called bite pressure inhibition training. The way it works is, when the kitten playfully grabs your hand and bites down on it, you yelp, cry, and stop playing. What I tell people is, think of the most pressure you’d want your cat to use on a 1-year-old baby and use that as your point of reference. So it’s not how hard you’ll let them bite you, but how hard would you let them bite a 1-year-old?

If every time your kitten bites down too hard you cry out and stop playing, he’ll quickly realize that continuing to play is the reward for controlling his biting and scratching.


Q: At what age should I take my kitten to the vet, and how can I make him like vet visits?

A: Kittens need to start their shots at about eight weeks. And it’s also good at this point to start getting them used to riding in the car. So take your cat to different places, and give it little treats just for getting in the carrier, for taking a short ride to the mailbox, for taking a little longer ride. Make it a pleasant experience. We want several trips that are positive before and after the one to the veterinarian’s office.


Q: Is play important in socializing my kitten?

A: Play is very important to socializing your kitten. You also want to do object play. The five games cats should be taught to play are mouse, bird, lizard, rabbit, and bug. Buy something that looks like a bird and pretend it’s a bird. Get a laser pointer and pretend it’s a bug. The mistake most people make is they buy these toys for play, but they don’t mimic the animal’s actions when playing.

And let the cat win sometimes. Take a treat and put it under the toy and let him pounce on it and eat it. It’s no fun to lose all the time.

Reviewed on June 30, 2009
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