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Contrary to widespread belief, cats are trainable by proper methods: rewards and tangible but removed punishment (see 'Spray Bottle Method,' below).

Be firm and patient with your kitten. By teaching it the house rules now, you can avoid future behavioral problems. Actions that are cute in a kitten may not seem so cute in an adult (such as nursing on your arm or sitting on the dining room table). If the kitten scratches its claws where it shouldn't, say "NO," take it to its scratching post, and make scratching motions with its feet. Kittens respond well to a firm voice and patience. They are naturally fastidious, and want to behave.

The Spray Bottle Method:
Behavior problems that don't respond to "NO!" can usually be modified by giving the kitten a quick shot of water from a spray bottle. This method removes you from the punishment in the kitten's mind, which is desirable for two reasons: The kitten doesn't begin to fear you as a source of punishment (as it would if you spank!), and it thinks the water is an 'Act of God,' and will refrain from the undesirable behavior even if you aren't around. (A similar method works to keep your kitten from running outdoors: Stand outside, hose in hand, door open, and spray the kitten when it sets foot outside. After a few times, the kitten will decide that there's nothing out there that it wanted anyway! Another method some friends of ours use as a backup is to attach a water gun with velcro to their front door [they even got a water gun the same color as the door!]. When they go in or out they remove the gun and hold it ready to squirt an errant kitten. Works every time!).

excerpt from an article originally written by Trish Simpson