There’s no denying that kittens are adorably cute and fluffy — and playful! Sometimes, however, that playful streak can cross over into biting their owners. If your kitten has been biting you, now is the time to stop them in their tracks.
There are plenty of ways to stop your kitten biting, and this article is designed to help you work out how to use these tools in your home.
While it might seem cute and harmless when your kitten is small, this behavior can soon become ingrained as your kitten grows into a mature adult.
Taking the time to change such behavior while your kitten is still young is a great idea and one that your future self will thank you for!
First up, why do kittens bite in the first place? Let’s find out more.
Why Do Kittens Bite?
Your kitten might not look that threatening, but they think of themselves as a tiger!
It’s in your kitten’s DNA to want to bite and scratch things — this playful behavior is a precursor to being able to hunt down their food in the wild. Biting is an evolutionary trait and is something that all kittens do, whether they’re a domestic shorthaired or a lion.
So, we can’t expect our kittens to stop biting, but there are many different options to make sure that they don’t bite us.
1. Check Your Kitten’s Behavior
While most kittens are simply biting because they’re hunters — and your hand happens to be the target — biting can sometimes be a sign of an underlying issue that might be causing your kitten pain.
Gently check your kitten by petting them. Take note if they respond to you touching them in a certain place by yowling, turning, or biting. If they are showing these signs consistently when petted in the same spot, their biting may indicate pain. It’s worth booking a check-up with your veterinarian in this situation.
If a child or other member of your family is complaining of being bitten, see if you can observe your kitten interacting with them. It’s harder for children to understand that kittens are small and delicate, so check that they’re not playing with your kitten too roughly. Other older members of the family might not know how to play with a kitten, such as backing them up into a corner or never letting them catch their toy. In this case, your kitten may feel threatened or frustrated and be biting as a result.
Once you’ve ruled out any of these scenarios, you can put plans in place to help reduce the chance of being bitten by your kitten.
Let’s go through these one by one.
2. Don’t Use Your Hands as Toys
While it can be tempting to tickle your kitten’s tummy until they bunny-kick your hands or wiggle fingers for them to chase, using your hands as toys isn’t a great idea.
Your kitten will start to think of this as normal behavior.
The same goes for toes! Wiggling your feet under the covers might seem cute until your kitten manages to draw blood!
So, no human digits as toys. What can your cat play with?
3. Use a Range of Moving Toys
Before you bring your new kitten home, invest in a selection of toys to help keep them entertained.
Given that your kitten is a hunter, we want to use their toys to simulate the thrill of the hunt. Kittens love to stalk, catch, and “kill” their toys, using all the skills they would out in the wild.
Experiment with different toys. Wands with toys on the end of a string work well, as do balls, mazes, and soft toys that your kitten can bunny-kick and chase across the floor. Using a range of toys that move in different ways will keep your kitten interested and engaged.
The key here is to play with your kitten actively, looking to maintain their interest by changing how you move their toy to keep their interest.
Observe how your kitten sets themselves up for a successful bounce: Maybe they enjoy stalking their toy before an explosive run, or perhaps a cute little butt wiggle before a big jump is their signature move.
If your kitten does happen to pounce on your hand, don’t reward that behavior. Keep your hand still and try to distract them with one of their toys instead. It’s the movement that is encouraging your kitten to bite, so by removing this stimulus, your kitten should find playing with their toy instead much more rewarding.
Remember that kittens will tire easily when they’re young. A play session lasting between 10-15 minutes will be enough to leave them satisfied and tired.
As your kitten starts to associate their toys with playtime, the temptation to bite you instead will start to decrease.
4. Let Your Kitten Catch Their Toy
The whole reason behind your kitten’s playing and biting is that from an evolutionary point of view, they want to catch their prey. Doing so gives them a great sense of satisfaction!
So, make sure that you let your kitten properly catch their toy, as it will give them a thrill and make them feel like a tiger. If you’re using a toy like a laser pointer — which they can’t actually catch — throw them another toy at the end of your play session so they can feel that same sense of satisfaction.
5. Don’t Scold Your Kitten
While being bitten by your kitten can hurt, there’s little value in telling them off verbally. Your kitten won’t understand being scolded, so try to avoid this tactic.
6. Hunt, Catch, Kill — Repeat
Kittens (and fully grown cats!) are creatures of habit who thrive on a regular routine, and mimicking that in our homes will help your kitten feel satisfied.
The author Jackson Galaxy suggests that a kitten’s routine should consist of “hunt, catch, kill, eat, groom, sleep.”
So, if your kitten is playing with toys to simulate hunting, after a 10-minute session, they’ll be ready to catch and “kill” their toy. Now is a good time to feed your kitty a small meal before allowing them quiet time to have a groom and a nice long nap.
Your kitten will want to repeat this cycle all day long!
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7. Safety in Numbers
If you haven’t yet brought your kitten home, why not get two? Having two kittens growing up together is perfect because they can play together before snuggling up for a cozy sleep. Kittens will often reprimand the other if they’re playing too roughly, so cats who grow up together can have a better idea of their limits when it comes to playtime.
There you have it! We hope that you found this article useful and can implement a few of our tips to help your playful kitten re-direct their teeth to the right place!
Featured Image Credit: Crina Doltu, Pexels