It’s shocking to realize how much pain a tiny kitten can cause. But anyone who’s felt the sharp teeth of a kitten piercing their skin knows these little cuties can practically bring you to tears with their biting. Any new kitten owner has to learn to stop kitten biting sooner rather than later. In this article, we’ll talk about why kittens bite and how to stop a kitten from biting.
Why Do Kittens Bite?
According to Mary Molloy, an animal behavior counselor at Nirvana Trails in New York City, here are four common reasons why kittens bite:
1. They’re exploring. Just like human babies, kittens will explore everything around them with their mouths. Fortunately, kittens biting will slowly decrease, and the biting behavior generally stops by the time they’re a year old.
2. They’re teething. Kittens will begin teething at around two weeks old when their baby teeth come in, then again at around four months old when their adult teeth come in.
3. They’re learning. Kittens biting is part of playing and playing is how kittens learn. Kittens learn very quickly that if they bite a littermate too hard, the sibling will bite even harder in return. Just like with children, playing with other kittens is how they learn to treat each other and have relationships. If kittens are taken from their littermates too early (prior to about 8 weeks old), they’ll likely bite harder because they didn’t fully learn how hard is too hard.
4. They’re practicing hunting skills. Kittens love to stalk, sneak up on things and pounce on things. That’s fine if it’s one of their toys, but not so great when it’s your hands or feet! According to PetMD, kittens will use pouncing, grabbing and biting as a way to sharpen their hunting skills.
1. When your kitten bites you, say, “Ouch!” in a loud voice (but don’t scare them).
2. Then pull your hand away slowly – to do so quickly only encourages their playing and hunting instincts.
3. Redirect them to a toy they can play with and bite. You can find a selection of kitten toys HERE.
4. Don’t try to play or snuggle with your kitten when they’re in play mode. They’ll bite anything that comes near them. They just can’t help it. LOL
5. Make sure your kitten is getting enough play time and exercise. You should be playing with your kitten for at least a few minutes each day, ideally 15 minutes three times per day. You might also consider providing some interactive kitten toys for your kitten.
Repeat these steps each time your kitten is biting you. For more information about why kittens bite and how to stop it, read my article, How to Train Your Cat to Stop Biting – Why They Do It and How to Stop It.
Is This Good or Bad?
I don’t know if this particular tip is good advice or bad advice, but recently I started playing with my kitten, Whiskers, with an oven mitt on my hand. He likes to play and snuggle with me in bed when I first wake up and he’s often too excited and will scratch and bite. So, I put an inexpensive oven mitt on my hand and every morning we rough house a little, and he’ll bite and “bunny feet” the oven mitt. I don’t know if this might wind up encouraging your kitten to bite, but for Whiskers, it seems to be enough to satisfy him and he generally does not bite or attack my hands at any other time. Please don’t leave your cat unsupervised with the oven mitt – I saw Whiskers try to stick his head in it, so you don’t want them to get their head stuck and suffocate. You can find some cheap oven mitts on HERE.
Consistency and repetition are your best tools for kitten training. The kitten won’t learn if you’re not consistent with your reactions to their biting. And it’s important that each member of your family is on board with these steps. Kittens will get confused if some people allow them to bite, and others don’t.
Hurting or scaring your kitten only results in the kitten being afraid of you. And believe me, a kitten who is stressed out grows into a cat with tons of behavioral issues. You want your kitten to be happy and healthy, not scared, stressed out, or mistreated. Plus, if you’re mean to your kitten for biting, it’s highly unlikely they’ll be able to put two and two together and realize that it’s the biting that’s making you angry. They see biting as perfectly normal behavior. They won’t get it. Your best bet for teaching your kitten not to bite is patience. And lots of kitten toys!
Check out my article, What Does a New Kitten Need? It includes a link for a printable new kitten checklist.
Need More Help with Kitten Training?
If you feel you need more help with your kitten’s behavior, I can recommend a very good resource for kitten training called, Complete Cat Training Guide from KingdomofPets.com. This is a downloadable Ebook with information on how to solve 25 kitten behavior issues. It includes the best kitten training techniques and step-by-step instructions. This program is $37 and comes with a full money-back guarantee.
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