Your new kitten is adorable and cuddly. But sometimes, at night, they transform into a violent wolverine, attacking your hands and feet with wild abandon.
What can be done about this nightmarish habit? Fortunately, there are ways to keep your kitten from sinking their little fangs into your ankles every time you turn away.
Here’s what you need to know about kitten bites and how to make them stop.
Why Is Your Kitten Biting You?
Kittens teach each other something called “bite inhibition,” which essentially means that, when they bite too hard, the other kitten bites back, eventually reducing the incidence and severity of such bites.
But if your kitten was separated from their littermates too early, they may not have gotten a chance to learn that lesson.
When your kitten clamps their teeth into your hand, you can’t stop the problem without knowing why they’re biting you.
Did the issue start when you touched a certain part of their body, such as their paws or tail? If so, you may want to slowly acclimate them to handle your touch in that area.
Another scenario: Were you moving your hand in plain sight or under a blanket? In those cases, your kitten may think that either your hand is a small animal, or that you are playing a game with them.
Don’t encourage this behavior by allowing them to bite during play. It should never be okay to bite your hands, and consistently offer them a toy as an alternative to play with.
Choose Your Toys Wisely
As stressed above, don’t pick out cat toys that encourage kitty to bite your hands. It will be hard for them to understand that playtime gloves mean they can bite your hand, but when they’re off, you do not want to be bitten.
Don’t encourage them to play with rings, shoelaces, bracelets, or other items on your hands or feet, and stay consistent with your message of what they can and cannot play with.
Also understand that kittens do enjoy biting things as part of normal play, so do provide appropriate soft cat toys that are large enough for them to hang onto and bite, such as stuffed mice.
How To Stop A Bite In Action
Maybe you’ve made the mistake of reaching for your kitten’s favorite cat toy when they’re already amped up for play. Before you know it, their fangs are meeting up with your fingers.
To minimize the damage from the bite, you will have to do something completely unnatural: Freeze.
Cats are primarily motivated to bite by prey-drive. So the harder you pull away or the faster you move, the tighter they’re going to latch on. If you can bear it, just stay still for a moment, say “no” and gently blow air in their face.
Most kittens will be so surprised by the unentertaining turn that this game has taken, they’ll let go and run away.
Ultimately, biting is a behavior that most kittens will grow out of, but cats can be stubborn. It’s up to the pet parent to take a firm, consistent approach to shaping their behavior to ensure that their kitten grows up to be a loving, non-biting adult cat.
Have you ever had to train a kitten not to bite? What advice would you give to other pet parents? Let us know in the comments below!