Kitten Kindergarten?

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Photo: netzanette, Flickr Creative Commons

Puppies attend training classes…why not kittens?

Want to learn tips for helping your kitten develop good habits? Need an overview on basic feline health and wellness topics? Sounds like you and baby kitty are ready to register for kitten kindergarten! These classes, designed for kittens (usually between 7-14 weeks) and their humans are popping up all over the country. “Twenty years ago, puppy classes weren’t very common, and now many people consider them vital to proper puppy development,” says veterinarian Vicki Hird of Northwest Animal Hospital in Columbus, Ohio.

Cats are known to be easily stressed so training them early (and properly) will significantly lessen the possibility of major issues in the future. Some of the topics covered in a typical class include litter box training, helping cats feel safe in a new environment, appropriate handling and play techniques, grooming and care, and some classes even cover teaching your cat tricks and/or obedience commands. Here is the layout of a sample class offered at Animal Medical Center in Morgantown, West Virginia.

The class sizes are usually small (between 6-8 kittens) and most invite all family members to attend along with kitty. The average cost is between $25-$50.

The Houston SPCA has offered classes as well — here is a video showing a bit of what’s learned during their program:

“No one who has taken the kitten class hasn’t been thrilled, including plenty of people who have had many cats,” Hird says.

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  1. I am in the process of training my newly adopted girl, Cleo (AKA The Aby-silly-an). She was a child bride, pregnant at just 9 months old with 7 kittens and living on the streets. She is, therefore, crafty (as well as being very smart). I am training her like I’ve trained my other cats, Border Collie mix, China (now gone) and, yes, even my children 🙂 Non-violent discipline and consequences, consistency and lots of understanding of her unique personality. A firm ‘Uht!’ when she bullies one of my other cats or plays rough with humans (she uses teeth and claws) or steals food and by moving her some distance away from the situation. If she persists, she gets ‘time out’ in the back room with the door firmly closed. She is slowly learning what is acceptable behaviour and what’s not. On the other hand, my Boy Cat, Khan (also now gone) was ‘clicker trained’ (accidentally) at the same time as my BCX. I gave her liver treats (which he adored) when she did what I asked. He ‘cottoned on’ to this and when I asked her to ‘Come.’ or ‘Sit!’, he would do the same (and get the same reward).

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