Litter Box 101: Classes for kittens

There's more to cat school than just sleeping, stretching, and snacking.
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Jan 12, 2009
By dvm360.com staff
Cats aren’t generally expected to sit, shake, or heel. But for owners looking to prevent their cats from hiding under the bed when company visits the house or refusing to cooperate with the veterinarian, the solution may be as simple as a few lessons in school.

Kitten kindergarten has reached the United States, after its introduction by Australian veterinary behaivorist Dr. Kersti Seksel nearly a decade ago. The courses, designed for cats ages 7 to 14 weeks, allow kittens to play and interact with their owners and other cats. To participate in the classes, kittens must be up-to-date on shots, have a form signed by a veterinarian saying they’re in good health, and have tested negative for feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) and feline leukemia virus (FeLV).

New owners can learn the basics, like feeding, litter box maintenance, grooming, and playing with their pet. More experienced owners can further socialize their pet to prevent future behavior problems.

Steve Dale, a cat behavior consultant in the Chicago area, teaches kitten kindergarten classes around the country. He developed his curriculum based on Dr. Seskel’s teachings and feline behavior guidelines from the American Association of Feline Practitioners. Behavior goals are achieved through a variety of games, drills, and introductions to other cats, people, and even dogs.

According to Arden Moore, editor of Catnip, a monthly cat magazine from Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine, socializing cats at a young age is paramount to developing good behavior. “You’re showing your cat that the carrier is a safe, welcoming place,” she says. “The car is no big deal. And the veterinarian’s office is no big deal. You’re getting them used to being handled by different people and safely introduced to new environments.”

Source: The Daily Cat