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Photo of two sphynx kittens

Kittens Edison and Ethel. Image courtesy of Marianne Manning, RVT, LVT, KPA CTP, LSHC-S, FFCP, CFVP, VTS

One way to help a newly adopted kitten thrive and grow into a behaviorally healthy adult cat is to enroll them in a kitten class, often referred to as kitty kindergarten. In class, caregivers will learn how to distinguish between normal and abnormal cat behaviors, observe and interpret cat body language, and address their cat’s basic needs through play and positive reinforcement.

Caregivers often seek out classes when their new kitten is doing things they don’t like, such as scratching the furniture, climbing drapes, or biting ankles. Kitty kindergarten can teach caregivers to make changes to the environment, create suitable outlets for these behaviors, and use positive reinforcement to teach desirable behaviors. Clicker training, which utilizes a sound to mark the kitten’s behavior as it happens, makes it clear to the kitten what they did right and what they will be rewarded for in the future. Kitten classes also teach foundational behaviors such as coming when called and targeting and stationing, which are useful for carrier training and more.

There may be both virtual and in-person options available for kitten classes. The benefit of in-person classes is the opportunity to expose and socialize the kitten to new people, different environments, and to other kittens in the same age range. However, in-person classes often have an age limit due to a cat’s socialization period. Typically, kittens between seven and 14 weeks of age are accepted, though some classes only allow kittens 11 weeks or younger.

After 11 weeks, a kitten can become wary and possibly fearful of new people and things and less interested in playing with other kittens. An in-person class for an older kitten runs the risk of causing more behavioral issues rather than providing help. Caregivers who have a kitten over the age limit of an in-person class may still be able to attend without the cat to receive education on setting the kitten up for success. Don’t hesitate to ask for this option.

Two siamese kittens playing with a wand toy

Image courtesy of Marianne Manning, RVT, LVT, KPA CTP, LSHC-S, FFCP, CFVP, VTS

An alternative to in-person classes is virtual kitty kindergarten. The benefit of virtual classes is that the kitten can be older than 14 weeks, which is helpful for those who have adopted a kitten from a shelter or rescue. The same education on cat behavior, body language, and solving unwanted behavior problems will be covered, all while training the kitten in the low-stress environment of their home! The downfall of virtual kitten kindergarten is that it lacks the exposure to other kittens, people, or new environments that an in-person class provides. 

When researching kitten classes, look for those run by veterinary professionals, cat behavior consultants, or animal trainers who use positive reinforcement as their training method. Kitty kindergarten is as important as preventative health measures that lead to a long, happy life for your cat.

Computer screen shows a kitten class in session. Image courtesy of Marianne Manning, RVT, LVT, KPA CTP, LSHC-S, FFCP, CFVP, VTS