How to teach a kitten to use the cat tree

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You can teach a kitten to use the scratching post. The best way is to start as early as possible. Here you will find tips and advice about kittens, their learning behaviour and scratching posts. 

It is often said that you can’t teach cats anything. But that is absolutely not true. Yes, cats are stubborn. But they are also very clever. Cats know very well what is nice and what is not. And what dangerous things they should better not do. Do you want to teach your cat something? Then start early, because kittens are very eager to learn.  

In this blog we will explain how cats learn so that you can better understand their learning behaviour. And we will give you some tips on how to teach your kitten to use the scratching post. Are you reading (and learning)?

Or would you like to see all cat trees for kittens at once?

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This is how a cat learns

Congenital behaviour

Much of the behaviour of cats is innate. This means that they acquire some character traits and instincts at birth. When a kitten is about four weeks old, it already knows, for example, that it has to dig a hole in a soft surface and that it can pee in it.

Learning by watching

A small kitten also learns by watching its mother’s behaviour. So the little cat will copy what its mother does. But a kitten also learns from other cats in the house. If, for example, you already have a quiet adult cat in the house who is relaxed with people, the kitten will copy this behaviour.

Learning through practice

Kittens are curious and learn by practising a lot. For example, if a kitten climbs on the couch once and falls off, it will keep trying until it gets better at it and finally succeeds. This way kittens find out for themselves what works and what doesn’t.

So a kitten learns itself all sorts of things. But what should you do if you want to teach your cat something?

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Unlearning a cat (through conditioning)

Cats are great animals. But they also sometimes do things you don’t like. Here is an example. Suppose you are petting your kitten and it bites your hand. And that, of course, is not allowed. Stop this behaviour immediately after the bite and walk away.

Your kitten will notice two things now.

1: You have stopped petting and that is not nice.

2: It doesn’t get any more attention and that’s not nice either.

If you continue to react in this way, after a few times your kitten will understand the consequences of biting and will stop doing it – after all, it doesn’t do any good.

Important: punishing a cat never works. You will make your cat very nervous.

Teaching your cat (by rewarding good behaviour)

Kittens (and cats) are smart and good at making connections. The most effective way to teach a kitten something is to reward it. This can be done with a nice treat. But if your kitten doesn’t care about that, a caress or playing together is a nice reward as well.

After reading all this, you will have a better understanding of how cats learn. And how you can teach them or unteach them things. But now the big question is: how do you teach a kitten to use the scratching post? We will show you in a few easy steps below.

How to teach a kitten to use the scratching post

Kittens also need to scratch things. Scratching makes them happy and keeps their muscles supple. Always make sure you have one or more scratching posts in your home. There’s a big chance your kitten will use the scratching post on his own. Is this not the case? Then try this:

  • Place a scratching post suitable for kittens and small cats.
  • Place the scratching post where your kitten often walks by.
  • Play with your kitten near the scratching post several times a day.
  • Reward your kitten when it uses the scratching post.
  • Does your kitten scratch your furniture? Pick up your fluffy toy quietly and put it down by the scratching post.
  • Reward it immediately when it scratches the scratching post.
  • Is your kitten still not using the scratching post often enough after a few weeks? Spray some liquid catnip on the scratching post. Pay attention: always read the instructions on the bottle first.
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And finally, a useful tip

It is always better to have more than one scratching post in the house. Place a scratching post in every room where your cat spends a lot of time. Want to know more about cats and scratching posts? Here you can read all about scratching behaviour, the ideal place for a scratching post and the best scratching post to buy.

Disclaimer: Petrebels is not a vet or a behaviourist: all content, information and tips on this blog are meant to inspire you and are of an informative nature. Does your cat have complaints or problems and do you doubt the health of your cat? Always go to the vet or a behaviourist.

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