Having had a good meal, a short sleep and used the litter tray, the kitten will go out and about looking for trouble. This may include scratching the furniture or digging at the carpet. These bad habits should be discouraged from the outset. If necessary a short piece of wood, particularly pine with the bark still on, should be offered as a scratching post; an alternative is to tack some sacking-round a post. All misdemeanours should be dealt with by scolding rather than smacking. Kittens soon learn a disciplinary tone of voice and will respond to it. In addition, they dislike sudden noises like hand-clapping and this will often frustrate a stealthy creep towards food on the table or in the larder.
It is commonly thought that cats cannot be trained. If a kitten is taught early enough it can be made to chase balls and even retrieve them and to enjoy other games like racing along and leaping into paper bags or through encircled arms. It is not unusual, particularly on the continent of Europe, to see kittens being taught to walk on a lead attached to a collar. A collar is quite acceptable, provided that it has a section of elastic in it to allow the collar to pull over the head if it gets caught in a tree branch. A collar has the further advantage of being able to accommodate an identity tag.
Unlike that of dogs, there are very few do’s and don’ts in the training of cats. Their instinct to use a litter tray or a corner of the garden makes house training very easy. Sometimes however it is necessary to persuade a cat to avoid making holes in the vegetable garden or among favourite flowers. This is best done in the early stages by using the litter box. This should be moved nearer and nearer to the door, then put outside, and finally placed in a corner of the garden where you wish the cat to continue using the natural soil. This will get the training off to a good start and develop habits which, hopefully, will last a lifetime. It is unhappily impossible to train cats not to cross main roads as their natural curiosity overcomes even their built-in fear of strange places.