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Old 01-07-2013, 02:07 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Kitten advice - raising a balanced kitty!

Hi!

I wanted to get some advice about my new kitten. I adopted her about a week ago. I believe she is about 3-4 months old.

I've always had cats in the house growing up, but never had one of my own. Plus we'd always adopted adult cats so this is my first time with a kitten!

I understand from reading that the most important part of their development is in their first 12 weeks, so I appreciate that time has past. Her previous owners seemed to take good care of her, she was with her brother when I got her, and one older cat. From what they told me they have handled her a lot.

I guess I am just wanting to make sure that I am doing the right thing to ensure I end up with a friendly kitty who likes being around people!

The behaviour that I've noticed is that she is still very playful, which is great. She loves her toys and I make a point of playing with her for at least a few minutes, a few times a day. Her general demeanour is good. She never scratches, never bites etc when she's handled.

The one thing I've noticed is that she is very up and down with regards to wanting to be touched. If I've not seen her for a while (sleeping or been at work) she is very affectionate and she will come to me. However, other times if I try to pet her she will flinch and run away.

Is this normal for a kitten? Because she's so hyperactive I wondered if it's just because she's so 'on edge' that being touched startles her in the same way that say, her own tail does!

If she's napping, she'll do it away from me, though if I move her she is normally content sleeping next to me. I try not to do that too often though. She has her own spot where she likes to sleep (on top of my computer speaker - pic below, how crazy is that? )




I've read articles saying that you should carry the kitten a few times a day just for a few mins so that they become accustomed to being held. I do this, and whilst she doesn't struggle much to get away, I don't want to do this too often against her will or she'll start to react badly to it.

I guess the purpose of this war and peace post is, to summarise, what is the good balance of handling her? Should I only do it when she comes to me, or should I try and handle her more often than that? I don't want to force myself on her and end up making her have negative associations with being handled. By the same token I don't want to not handle her enough so that she doesn't like human touch. She's a housecat so it's kind of important that she interacts well with people!
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Old 01-07-2013, 02:24 PM   #2 (permalink)
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If she will accept treats from you while being held (some animals won't..), maybe give her a treat when you pick her up, so she associates being held with a positive stimulus?
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Old 01-07-2013, 02:33 PM   #3 (permalink)
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My kitten is almost 3 months old, and he is very much like yours sometimes. I believe he had a good "childhood" at his breeder He lets me know when he wants to be cuddled, usually when he is sleepy, or just waking up, or haven't seen me for a while. Very often he is waaay to excited to lay down and enjoy cuddles. He would much rather run around, bite his toys, hunt moving people and objects... So many times when I want to touch him, he will run to his toys instead.

As for carrying.. I am not an expert, just speaking from my small experience. They do get more used to it.. Just find a handling position that kitten tolerates most. Mine is ok in football hold, while I am carrying him around, but not too long. I carry him whenever I want to I am selfish So 5 or more times a day I will pick him up and carry him just because I want to, and he seems fine with it. He was not a fan of it the first week I brought him home though.
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Old 01-07-2013, 05:23 PM   #4 (permalink)
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One of my six was about this age when we had her. Several month later, she has times of being aloof but spends part of every night under the bedclothes with me being cuddled. I think that's not abnormal.
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Old 01-07-2013, 05:41 PM   #5 (permalink)
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OP when I started with my kittens I had a few basic goals. I knew I wanted to be able to pick them up whenever I wanted, to trim their nails without a fuss, and to give them a thorough head-to-toe health check whenever I needed to.

To get my boys accustomed to this the first step is the same for all three goals...teach them that if mum wants to handle you mum WILL handle you, and the fastest way to get it over with is to hold still.

It's actually startlingly easy to teach them this, and I started right around your kittens age. The first few steps are easy, but crucial. Don't rush it!!!

Start by just picking the kitten up and holding her firmly. Not too hard, just firmly enough that she feels safe. If she fusses DO NOT PUT HER DOWN! IME this is how you end up with a cat no one can hold; they fuss and you put them down so they learn to fuss harder the next time. When my kittens fussed I held them, firmly and calmly until they stopped. As soon as they relax and settle down I would put them down. I did this every single time I walked past the boys from the time they were about 6 weeks old until they caught on. The more the better!

Once they learned that the fastest way to make it be over was to relax it was much more fun. I'd pick them up, they'd fuss a bit and then relax. I'd give them a few scratches, rub their belly, maybe touch their paws or another part of them and then set them down. Gradually I lengthened the amount of time I could hold them until they'd just relax whenever I held them.

The trick is to NEVER EVER EVER (!!!) put down a kitten who is struggling. (assuming you're not dealing with ferals...different story there.) Every time she struggles and you set her down you're teaching her that struggling is the way to get what she wants, and you will end up with a ton of problems. For me this is the cardinal rule of raising a kitten.

At your girl's age you just need her to relax. That's it. Pick her up, make sure you're supporting her bum properly, let her fuss. The SECOND she stops fussing set her down. If, as you lower her gently to the floor, she starts squirming again bring her back to your chest and hold her until she settles. This is a safety issue too. It isn't safe for you to try and lower her while she's squirming since you could drop her awkwardly and he could get hurt.

Check out the two threads below for other tips on raising a polite kitten

OH! And pictures please !

Part 1
Teaching Good Manners to Cats

Part 2
Good Manners for Cats - Part 2

Clicker Training
Clicker training cats
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Old 01-09-2013, 08:06 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Thanks for the advice everyone

Quote:
Originally Posted by purr machine View Post
My kitten is almost 3 months old, and he is very much like yours sometimes. I believe he had a good "childhood" at his breeder He lets me know when he wants to be cuddled, usually when he is sleepy, or just waking up, or haven't seen me for a while. Very often he is waaay to excited to lay down and enjoy cuddles. He would much rather run around, bite his toys, hunt moving people and objects... So many times when I want to touch him, he will run to his toys instead.

As for carrying.. I am not an expert, just speaking from my small experience. They do get more used to it.. Just find a handling position that kitten tolerates most. Mine is ok in football hold, while I am carrying him around, but not too long. I carry him whenever I want to I am selfish So 5 or more times a day I will pick him up and carry him just because I want to, and he seems fine with it. He was not a fan of it the first week I brought him home though.
yeah she seems best holding her supporting the bum and holding her front legs under my other hand. And yeah I think you are right she just seems to be too excited a lot of the time to be held. She will spend ages jumping at her own tail, so I think getting touched she just jumps.

When I get up in the morning she's always very happy to be petted, and again at night when it's bed time or when I come home from work!
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Old 01-09-2013, 08:10 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by librarychick View Post
OP when I started with my kittens I had a few basic goals. I knew I wanted to be able to pick them up whenever I wanted, to trim their nails without a fuss, and to give them a thorough head-to-toe health check whenever I needed to.

To get my boys accustomed to this the first step is the same for all three goals...teach them that if mum wants to handle you mum WILL handle you, and the fastest way to get it over with is to hold still.

It's actually startlingly easy to teach them this, and I started right around your kittens age. The first few steps are easy, but crucial. Don't rush it!!!

Start by just picking the kitten up and holding her firmly. Not too hard, just firmly enough that she feels safe. If she fusses DO NOT PUT HER DOWN! IME this is how you end up with a cat no one can hold; they fuss and you put them down so they learn to fuss harder the next time. When my kittens fussed I held them, firmly and calmly until they stopped. As soon as they relax and settle down I would put them down. I did this every single time I walked past the boys from the time they were about 6 weeks old until they caught on. The more the better!

Once they learned that the fastest way to make it be over was to relax it was much more fun. I'd pick them up, they'd fuss a bit and then relax. I'd give them a few scratches, rub their belly, maybe touch their paws or another part of them and then set them down. Gradually I lengthened the amount of time I could hold them until they'd just relax whenever I held them.

The trick is to NEVER EVER EVER (!!!) put down a kitten who is struggling. (assuming you're not dealing with ferals...different story there.) Every time she struggles and you set her down you're teaching her that struggling is the way to get what she wants, and you will end up with a ton of problems. For me this is the cardinal rule of raising a kitten.

At your girl's age you just need her to relax. That's it. Pick her up, make sure you're supporting her bum properly, let her fuss. The SECOND she stops fussing set her down. If, as you lower her gently to the floor, she starts squirming again bring her back to your chest and hold her until she settles. This is a safety issue too. It isn't safe for you to try and lower her while she's squirming since you could drop her awkwardly and he could get hurt.

Check out the two threads below for other tips on raising a polite kitten

OH! And pictures please !

Part 1
Teaching Good Manners to Cats

Part 2
Good Manners for Cats - Part 2

Clicker Training
Clicker training cats
Thanks for the advice - I've been following re: being handled and it seems to be helping her. Normally I'll try and hold her before I feed her so she associates positively, and only let her down when she's not squirming (which she doesn't do much now)!

She's also more forthcoming about sleeping around me as well, here's a nap of her snoozing on the couch last night!

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Old 01-09-2013, 08:22 AM   #8 (permalink)
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My kitten used to be very active and wanted to be put down the moment I picked him up so he could go play. I held/carried my kitten all the time, took him out in his carrier/harness. Brushed his teeth/fur, clipped nails twice a week, rubbed his belly. He now doesn't mind being carried around, loves cuddling and is an all around super kitten he is almost 12 months now. There are still some things he doesn't like, but we are making progress, slowly but surely. He also did go through a biting stage when I would turn him on his back and rub his tummy. But he got over that very quickly. if he bit too hard, i would stop say 'hey! NO!' and then go back to rubbing his tummy so he would know that behavior didn't make me stop. Good luck with your new kitty!
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