Dear Miss Behavin’: Our two new kittens are really tearing up the house! We thought cats would be less destructive than a dog. What do we do?

It’s common for people to think that their cats will be less maintenance than a dog. The truth is that as adults, they usually are. However, like any other mammal, babies have to learn how to behave. When we bring them into our homes, it’s our responsibility to teach them the rules.

First of all, keep in mind that this crazy kitten phase won’t last forever. Don’t lose patience and don’t give up on your kitties. They will mature, and with your guidance, they will become well-behaved companions. For now, they are filled with energy and curiosity and need to explore their world. Keep them safe from cords or house plants that they may get into, and provide them plenty of toys to play with instead. Set aside 15 minutes twice daily to play with them. This will help build a bond as well as help them get some energy out in an appropriate way. If they are climbing your curtains and scratching furniture, offer them a scratching post or cat tree to use instead. Sprinkle this with treats or catnip to encourage use. If you catch your kitten scratching your couch, bring her to the scratching post instead and praise her if she uses it.

If they are destructive while you are away from home, set up a totally safe and kitten-proofed room for them to stay in when they can’t be supervised. Any room where you can fit a litter box or two, water, toys, and a cozy place to sleep will do the trick. For many cat owners, this is a bathroom or a large closet. You could also use a bedroom, but ensure that anything that could be destroyed is out of reach. By preventing them access to the couch, curtains, etc., you are helping them break their naughty habits while keeping your belongings safe.

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