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What Not to Do with Your New Kitten

By: Dr. Nicholas Dodman

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  • Do Not Feed Your Kitten Human Food: And Do Not Feed From The Table.

    Kitten food is best for kittens (AAFCO approved, is most desirable). Adding who-knows-what quantities or an assortment of human foods will not only detract from the optimal (proprietary) food but will encourage fussiness. Also, if the human food is fed from the table, you will wind up with a kitten that mooches around the table at mealtimes and tries to stare you down for food. Start out the way you intend to continue.

  • Do Not Expect Love and Attention To Substitute For Being A Good "Kitten Parent."

    It is tempting to give young kittens all the love and attention they evoke without requiring anything in return. With kittens, as with puppies (and children), it is important to set limits of acceptable behavior. This is especially important as kittens go through the feline equivalent of "the terrible twos" at 4-5 months of age. Bad behavior, like excessive biting or clawing, should be punished by immediate withdrawal of attention (following sharp exclamation of a word like, Ouch! or No-bite!). This is how kittens communicate with each other.

  • Don't Assume Your Kitten Can't Be Trained .

    Kittens can and should be trained to understand and obey some "commands." Clicker training, using food as the reward, is the best approach. Training your kitten to understand a few words will improve your relationship with it and make it a better feline citizen.

  • Don't Ever Get Angry With Your Kitten.

    Work hard to remind yourself, whatever happens, that this is a baby you are dealing with. If you loose your cool, you will act incorrectly, your kitten will think you psychotic, and you will loose all respect and trust. Be a good kitten parent. Stay cool.

    Following these 10 simple rules can help create the kitten of your dreams, not nightmares. The basics are the same as in child-raising. Have fun, be fair, but be firm (the 3 F's) ... and set limits. "As you reap, so shall you sow." Pay attention at the beginning and the rewards will be positively unimaginable.

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