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Kitten's biting/scratching/agressive behaviour

postal service
July 3rd, 2005, 11:59 AM
I have been taking care of Lennon for almost two months now, after he was abandonned with his two sisters at the church my Dad works at. His sisters were adopted, but Dad ended up taking Lennon home after no one volunteered to take him. My parents have a schnauzer who did not like the cat at ALL, so they asked me to take care of him. He is an adorable cat, very affectionate and playful, and I think he is becoming a permanent resident in my home. However, I am having a huge problem with his out of control behaviour. He is hyperactive (more than just normal kitten activity). He will follow us and constantly bite at our feet, or he will try to climb up our legs. He will jump from one piece of furniture to the next, using the nearest human (usually me) as a bridge. I am constantly looking behind me to make sure he is not about to jump on my back. I am covered in scratches from him jumping on me. I have tried disciplining him, but he does not listen to me at all.
When I brought him for his shots and check-ups, I asked the vet about his behavior and she told me to be firmer when I discipline him, but I can't be any firmer without hurting him! I am absolutely against declawing, so I don't know what to do. I really love this little guy, and I'd like to keep him, but I need some advice. Thanks in advance.

postal service
July 3rd, 2005, 12:09 PM
I forgot to mention that Lennon is about 12 weeks old and he has an appointment to be neutered at the end of July.

July 3rd, 2005, 12:22 PM
I don't know... I wouldn't say that is aggressive behavior. Kittens are much like babies, he's testing his limits.
When he's biting at your feet or furniture hopping, try getting a toy out and playing with him.He will follow us and constantly bite at our feetYour feet are great fun, they are moving targets to little kittens. Actually I don't know of a kitten who hasn't done this.

Every kitten I've had in this house has covered me in scratches. And my cats still hop from one piece of furniture to the next. They used to climb the drapes too, literally bouncing off the walls, and they used to climb my legs... only in the kitchen of course, when it was time to eat!

I would get some cool kitty toys and some catnip (and a playmate?? ;) ) things that would totally deter him from the things you don't want him doing.

Good luck. Do ya have a pic? :p

Oh yeah... clip his nails, it will help a lot with the scratches. Also, get him started with a scratching post, it's never too early for that!

July 3rd, 2005, 12:40 PM
Sounds like pretty run-of-the-mill kitten antics.

Perhaps a quick little trim of Lennon's nails might not go a miss.

I can't say that I've experienced the 'problems' you are speaking of. . .but then again. . .I do have 2 kittens.

ARe you going to adopt him out, you made mention that he might be becoming a permentant fixture in your house - if he is permentant, perhaps a little friend for Lennon will help save your furniture and your skin from kitten claws. . .

postal service
July 3rd, 2005, 01:01 PM
Thanks guys. I know what you mean that most kittens will jump/bite/scratch and be generally very excited. I've had kittens before, but none of them have been half as bad as this little guy. I'm used ot being covered in scratches as well, but not deep scratches and bites like this guy gives me. My vet warned me that his behaviour may pose problems in future (she had a cat who acted much in the same way, and the cat eventually started biting at her kids' faces). He has many toys, and when he starts jumping on me or biting me I say "NO" firmly and put him on the ground and give him a toy to play with. Sometimes he will play with the toy, but he will often return to biting me and he will get aggressive when I try to get him away from my feet or hands (he latches on with his teeth and claws to the point that it's hard to seperate him). I send him to "his room" when it gets really out of control. I have thought of getting a playmate for him, but I was not even ready for one cat when came along (I have a new roommate moving in and I don't know if she is ok with cats, I have been waiting ot hear back from her). If all goes well I would like to adopt another cat, but I am also afraid that he might hurt the other cat.
I have to stress that I really love this kitten, and that I'm doing my best to make sure that he is happy and healthy. When he is being "good" he is your typical cat, and he can be an absolute darling. And you can be sure that when I've had it up to here with him, he will come over and delicately put his little paws on my cheeks and give me a kiss just so I can't be mad at him. :P
I'll try to get my camera workign and get some pictures of him soon.

July 3rd, 2005, 01:01 PM
Sounds like normal kitten stuff to me, too. When i brought my cat home from the humane society she was six months old and still acted like that for several more months. She was the only cat, though, and as soon as i took my first foster cat in she left me alone...apparently the other cat was a better playmate than i was (which was fine with me and my arms, feet and legs :) ) . I would definitely suggest a playmate, as well. Two cats are not any harder to take care of than one, in my opinion, if not easier because they entertain one another. Good luck with Lennon (cute name, by the way) !

postal service
July 3rd, 2005, 01:04 PM
Oh yeah, and I will try to clip his nails later if he will let me!

Lucky Rescue
July 3rd, 2005, 01:57 PM
Completely normal kitten behavior, especially if this is your only kitten. He needs someone to play with and burn off his excessive energy. Boys are often worse than females, and this behavior can continue for quite awhile.

I would get another kitten for him.

July 3rd, 2005, 03:58 PM
This does sound like normal behaviour but I can understand why you are concerned and don't want you kitty to become like your vet's cat!

If you don't get a second kitty, then perhaps getting your kitten a harness and leash so you can take him outside would help get rid of some of his endless energy. My girl loves going for walks with the dog but if you have a backyard, sometimes a simple toy like pinecones and dead leaves do the trick! OH - but make sure that he has gotten ALL of his vaccinations and possibly even been neutered (unless your sure he can't escape from you and make babies ;) )

Your kitty should get accustom to wearing a harness NOW instead of later anyway - it makes things so much easier then trying to get an adult to agree with one.

And if you keep the harness on in the house, you might find it easier to redirect your kittens attempts at pouncing and attacking your feet!


July 3rd, 2005, 04:11 PM
Postal-Service,if you can,after talking to your room-mate,I would definetly get another kitten,IMO everyone should have at least two cats.It's fun watching them interact and they might even leave your toes alone :D
I have never had just one cat...but even now,with 3 grown cats I end up with scratches,mostly my own fault though.
Keeping his nails nice and trimmed will help too,it's better he gets used to it as a kitten.
Taking him outside on a harness is also a good idea,but be very careful,when I got my youngest cat,he easily wrestled out of the harness.
Thank's for not even considering de-clawing him :thumbs up

July 9th, 2005, 11:22 AM
I'm against de-clawing too. Have you ever tried the rubber nail covers? Maybe people have talked about this on this forum before. I'm fairly new.


July 9th, 2005, 01:37 PM
This poor guy is just looking for attention. C'mon - aggressive behaviour - he's a baby at 12 weeks old!! It's not so long since YY was that old and to call that behaviour aggressive is like saying the Pope is too Catholic. It's not possible!!

However, since it does bother you, you could find more outlets for this guy. Play with me as much as possible and if that does not work, maybe another cat would be the solution. He has so much energy right now - his behaviour is completely normal. It is rather like the "terrible 2's" in chilren tho I personally hate that terrm.

Good luck - I am sure he'll be fine. Do discouraged from biting you tho - that is a bad behaviour pattern to neglect.

postal service
July 11th, 2005, 02:10 PM
I've been away for a couple of days, so I just got a chance to check back here now, and I want to say thanks to everyone for the ideas and advice.
Lennon wears a harness, and I take him outside every day if the weather permits, and he loves it. He is a bit calmer after we come back home. I also play with him all the time when I am home, and that helps a bit.
He has improved so much over the past week or so - at first I couldn't figure out what would have caused the change in behaviour, but I think it might be that I switched him to a higher quality food. My vet also noticed a huge difference when I brought him for his booster shots. I mentioned the food change and she said it is possible that he was allergic to the artificial colors or preservatives in the other food.
Mind you, he is still extremely active and is still a troublemaker, but he now reminds me of how my other cat acted as a kitten. He still has a bit of a biting problem that I am working on with him though.
I know that what I described sounds like normal kitten behaviour, but it really was extreme. When I brought him to the vet for the first time, he bit me so hard she had to bandage my hand. She was just concerned (as was I) that he might have future behavioural problems, and that he might hurt someone (like a guest) who would not be as patient with him as his family is. I don't think I have to worry about that too much anymore, his sweet side is really coming out, we're just going to have to work on the biting issue for now.
My roommate finally came to move her stuff in, and she is ok with Lennon so that is one good thing! I am really trying to see if I can arrange to get a buddy for him, but I live in a no-pets building and I have special permission to have 1 cat. I live right beside the superintendant, who yelled at me when she saw me taking Lennon out for his walk yesterday. I told her to take it up with the landlord and she finally apologized after she spoke to her. But, she would definitely not do me any favours and "ignore" a second cat. So I am going to ask the landlord if I can have permission for another cat and hope that I'm not pushing my luck.
Sorry for the long post, but I just wanted to let everyone know that things are going well with Lennon. :)

July 11th, 2005, 02:37 PM
Glad to hear Lennon is doing better!! You might try to break him off the biting behaviour tho by making it clear to him that it bothers you. Make a loud noise , like expressing a loud "NO!" or blow at him - what his mother did when she wanted him to stop something or he was being a brat - and kittens can be brats. :)

July 11th, 2005, 03:41 PM
Another suggestion, you may want to keep a squirt bottle handy. You don't have to drown the poor dear, but a squirt here and there can help curb his behavior. :)

July 11th, 2005, 03:56 PM
I am really trying to see if I can arrange to get a buddy for him, but I live in a no-pets building and I have special permission to have 1 cat. I live right beside the superintendant, who yelled at me when she saw me taking Lennon out for his walk yesterday. I told her to take it up with the landlord and she finally apologized after she spoke to her. But, she would definitely not do me any favours and "ignore" a second cat. So I am going to ask the landlord if I can have permission for another cat and hope that I'm not pushing my luck.

:) I, too, live in a no-pets building and i got special permission to have my cat, Tink. Then i wanted to foster so we pretty much begged the landlord to let us. I'm pretty sure he was thinking fostering meant taking in one other cat...but he didn't specify, i have nine. Two cats, nine cats, what's the difference really? :) Good luck with your landlord and i'm glad Lennon is doing better!

July 11th, 2005, 04:46 PM
It has become an increasing opinion among cat behaviourists - both the formal and informal kind - that using a squirt bottle of water does not work that well. I can certainly attest to that. Unless you are able to squirt water at the kiiten/cat within 3 seconds of the bad behaviur and the cat cannot see you squirting, it will work. But that's unrealistic.

I think the problem is that cats will NOT respond to what the beahviour mod school of thought psychologists (said only party in jest, lol) propose, especially if it is negative reinforement. Loathe as I am to use anecdotal information, my own experience was to follow advice and use a water spayer on a few occasions with YY. Well of course she knew I was the one with the squirt bottle. Being the smart kitty she is, she reasoned (and yes, I do think cats can reason and come to logical conclusions or at least conclusions ;) ), that I was the one with the bottle. So if she did what she was not supposed to do while I was not around, of course no squirt bottle would be either.

Neither is it a good thing for you to want your cat or pet to associate you with negative experiences.

I abanndoned this idea and was more angry at myself for doing it the few times I did and wasting my energy. I use positive reinforcement (not being a fan of behaviour mod )to begin with at any rate) to say keep her off the counters or provide alternatives to bad behaviurs. She knows if she uses her scratching post she gets treats and catnip. If she jumps on the counter, mommy is not happy with her - blows on her and ignores her (and a Siamese HATES to be ignored!).

Is she a brat now and then. Well of coure, she is still going thru her kittenhood and no one is perfect, even the mosr adorable Seal Point Wedgie girl. But she really is well behaved and is able to interact with anyone, human, feline or otherwise.

But I would never use the so called water solutuon again!