It Begins with Touch
Start off on the right foot by planning ahead and preparing your cat to accept and hopefully even enjoy being touched. Some kitties like being touched in particular areas but are sensitive about other parts of their body. Many cats can be paw-shy and they don’t like having their claws touched. Help your kitten learn to associate being touched in sensitive areas by petting near that area one or two times and then offering a treat.
If you have a kitten who dislikes having her ears handled, stroke her on the back of the head or on the chest and then offer a treat or a little portion of her regular food. You’ll quickly learn your cat’s petting area preferences. Gradually ease into being able to offer one gentle stroke near an ear and then offer an additional treat. Don’t forget to do the same on the other ear. Slowly work up to being able to touch the ear briefly and then increase the length the time you handle the ear. Don’t overdo it though. Keep the whole experience positive. If done correctly, your kitten will learn that allowing herself to be touched results in something pleasurable and the experience is quick, gentle and safe. It’s critical to your success that the petting session in those sensitive areas be over while it’s still a positive experience. If you touch the ear or another body part too long, you risk having your kitten start to struggle and then she’ll begin to associate the experience with something unpleasant.
The Sooner the Better When it Comes to Cat Training
Remember, start early and be gentle. Take baby steps and always end on a positive note. If you’re consistent you’ll increase your chances of having an adult cat who comfortably tolerates teeth cleaning, ear cleaning, nail trimming, grooming, tick removal or anything else that requires being touched.
Need More Information?
For more specifics on helping your kitten bond with you or for step-by-step instructions on kitten training, refer to the books by best-selling author Pam Johnson-Bennett.
If you have a question about your cat’s behavior, you can find information in the articles on our website as well as in Pam’s books. If you have a question regarding your cat’s health, please contact your veterinarian. This article is not intended as a replacement for your cat’s veterinary care.