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Kitten attacking/biting hands/arms - help!!

SanO16
September 29th, 2008, 04:50 PM
All - We have a new kitten (almost 3 mos now) who is really, by almost all measures, a great kitten and addition to our family. She learned to use the litter box in a day, just wants to be in the room where people are (purrs as soon as we walk in from school/work that day), plays well with her toys on her own, or when we're playing with her (sometimes even fetches!)...

But she definitely doesn't know that attacking/biting hands/arms is NOT okay. We've never 'rough-housed' with her using our hands, and we never hit her as a form of punishment so we aren't sure where she learned to attack them. We've tried everything we know to try: shouting NO!, squirt bottle when she does it, getting her off and stopping play immediately and ignoring her for a while.

When she is tired of playing and visibly getting sleepy she's wonderful and wants to cuddle and be rubbed and pet and loved, but while she is in her playful mood she's a little devil who will bite hands/arms/any other body part, do spider-man leaps onto shirts or pants, etc.

Please help! How can we teach her that biting hands/arms/humans is NEVER ok, regardless of her playful kitten mood at the time? We realize she is still very young, but need to nip this in the bud early - i love Poca (kitten) but will not tolerate her biting my 9 and 11 year old daughters very much longer.

All feedback is appreciated, and thank you!

badger
September 29th, 2008, 05:44 PM
She wouldn't be a calico, would she ? :D If so, unpredictable behaviour is an actual character trait and may not be fixable :laughing:
Your daughters are old enough to teach her that there are limits. If you had a pair of kittens, for instance, to some extent they would be checking each other's aggression, but in the absence of a sibling, you're the teacher.
I would devise games where hands are not directly involved but if they are, and she bites, back off immediately with a firm NO. Wait a couple of minutes before paying her any attention. Cats don't learn quite as quickly as dogs but they get it in the end.
I am sure you have also taught your girls that even kittens sometimes have had enough and should be left alone.
If you're away most of the day she probably has energy to spare when she sees you. That could add to the intensity of her responses.

Or you could always rescue another kitten about the same age, sit back (well, almost) and watch the fun.

kathryn
September 29th, 2008, 06:40 PM
Or you could always rescue another kitten about the same age, sit back (well, almost) and watch the fun.

This is your best option. If possible, get another kitten her age. They will take the aggression out on each other. You've done just about everything there is to do. Nearly every single kitten in the world is like this. Some kittens are calm, but generally all kittens bite and scratch. They do grow out of it though. I have fostered/rescued 20+ kittens and the best option is just to get another kitten. My grandmom took one of my kittens and she was all by her self and destroyed everything. When they have a friend they learn much faster and will be more destructive towards each other then anything else.

Keep at it with the squirt bottle though.

SanO16
September 29th, 2008, 06:54 PM
thank you both for the advice! at this time i'm not sure we will get another kitten, but in the future it is a definite possibility - i'll keep at the training and will probably buy more rubber toys that can't be destroyed (kong, etc) to see if that helps her take out the biting agression.

kathryn
September 29th, 2008, 10:16 PM
thank you both for the advice! at this time i'm not sure we will get another kitten, but in the future it is a definite possibility - i'll keep at the training and will probably buy more rubber toys that can't be destroyed (kong, etc) to see if that helps her take out the biting agression.

That's a great idea! Just give her a set of toys for her to destroy instead of her hurting everyone. Try to keep her nails trimmed or use nail caps. I find cat scratches hurt alot more then biting. They also tend to get infected a heck of alot easier. I've got one on my finger that isn't looking so good right now :frustrated:

good luck with the kitty. They usually settle down once they are fixed and about 8 months of age.

kanis
September 29th, 2008, 10:20 PM
Redirecting their playful aggression is a good thing. We've been very conscious of not playing with our hands. We grab a toy if they start gnawing on an arm.

Love4himies
September 30th, 2008, 08:05 AM
Stopping aggressive play with a firm "no" and redirecting play with a toy is the best way to get your kitty to stop. This must be done with 100% consistency.
Kittens are full of energy and need active play sessions. If you don't have the time to play with your kitty until he/she is pooped, then getting a second kitten is probably your best bet. It is really no more work for two as it is for one.;) Secondly, they will teach each other social skills such as not biting hard.

catlover2
October 1st, 2008, 12:01 AM
Kittens learn to control their bite through rough-housing with their littermates between 7-12 weeks. If they're taken away too early, they don't learn this, and it is more difficult to teach them not to bite hard.

All the advice with redirecting to a toy is good, but when kitty bites, give a stern "No" and light tap on its nose, and walk away. If kitty wants to play, it must play nicely, no biting...when it does, ignore it or walk away, or pick it up and remove it for a brief time out by herself. But do play with her with toys. She'll soon learn you're not any fun if she bites. She should soon outgrow this behaviour. Just be patient and keep us updated on her progress.