My kitten is not human. Again, repeat this with me: my kitten is not human.
Think about those cute “Unlikely Animal Friendships” we see so often on our Facebook feeds and Pinterests, which include: monkeys and parakeets, ducks and owls, and that's right—you and your kitten. You are such an odd couple that you deserve a reality show, really. Once you stop thinking of your kitten as human, you can start paving the scratchy road to recovery. Here's a few solutions:
1. My kitten litters the house—literally.
Mr. Poo Paws is a real slob, but the reality isn't that he's careless with your clean floors. Even if there were litter boxes abound in the wild, he would need time to learn how to be a cat, which includes properly covering his business and leaving it in the business section.
What helps? Litter mats. If possible, invest in an extra large litter mat because the smaller, plastic mats tend to get jumped over and ignored. It's also important to make sure that your mat is easy to clean and easy on the paws. Try testing the mat with your bare feet: if it's uncomfortable for you, it's uncomfortable for your cat.
2. My kitten tips over my cups, plants, mother, etc.
Kittens need stimulation. Easily manipulable objects are great play things because kittens love to paw, kick, and stretch their claws.
What helps? The obvious answer is not to leave cups and vulnerable objects in cat-friendly areas around the house, but it's less effective. Your kitten needs to learn how cohabitate with your cups. Instead, try alternative options for the kitten's curiosity. Wire springs with feathery ends on doorknobs and scratchers around the house work best, especially in areas of high risk to spill, splatter, and crash.
3. My kitten poops right next to the litter box.
Boo seems to look right at you when she does it, too. She must hate you. That, or she's trying to give you a message without the courtesy burial: there's something you need to know about the litter box. Either the box stinks or the brand of litter stinks.
What helps? No claws mean sensitive paws. If your kitten is declawed, the problem is most likely the brand of litter. Try organic, natural litters over the chemically treated brands.
Not declawed? The litter box may not be getting clean enough—I know it's not exactly like cleaning a swimming pool—but you got this baby year 'round! The litter box should be scooped daily, or truly, after every bowel movement. Try to deep-clean the box at least four times a week, or if you're feeling rather randy, every other day.
4. My kitten poops nowhere near the litter box.
Do you have more than one kitten? Try putting out more than one box. Some felines don't take kindly to sharing public restrooms. Open boxes, rather than enclosed, are best for multiple cats.
Just one kitten? Multiple litter boxes work for only children too (the furry kind). Try setting out a box in two different rooms. Also, be sure to use a UV light for spotting areas around the house marked with his scent for deep cleaning.
5. My kitten attacks my ankles and hands.
One, two, Kitty Krueger is coming for you...
You're not playing with your hands, right? If you are, then stop it! He's associating your hands with play time and well, he's ready to play.
What helps? Get out all of his energy before he gets antsy. Set aside 15 minutes twice each day for playtime—with cat toys! You have to train him not to associate your body with a jungle gym. Eventually, he will associate playtime more with the toys than he does with your body. Show him your body is not his wonderland.
What are some of your kitten tips and tricks?