If you’ve got a cat, bites and scratches happen - it’s just a fact of feline life! The occasional scratch during playtime or a toe-attack whilst your feet are under the blanket is completely normal - and sometimes kinda cute!
It’s when a kitten keeps biting day-in-day-out that the problem needs to be addressed.
Sometimes, newfound kitty owners just let kitten biting continue, assuming it’ll stop as their tiny fur child grows into a fully-fledged adult cat. But that’s not often the case - in fact, whatever they learn as a kitten is likely to stay with them for life.
Plus, no one wants to be avoiding the cutest member of the family in fear of them munching on your arms, legs and feet. Here is how to stop a kitten from biting from the get-go:
Do kittens teeth?
It’s easy to mistake aggressive kitten biting and kitten teething.
Kitten teething is a natural part of growing up - just as it is with puppies and human babies. Your kitten’s baby teeth will have shown up when they were around two weeks old. These baby teeth will be replaced with adult teeth by the time they’re just 6-months old - yep, that’s a lot of teeth action going on in just half a year!
While kittens teeth, it’s normal for them to start chewing here, there and everywhere. They don’t mean to - so remember to cut them some slack! It’s important to remove anything which could be dangerous to your kitty, such as electric cables or toxic plant - they’ll chew anything in sight.
We’d recommend picking up some teething toys from your local pet shop. As well as encouraging your kitten to stay away from furniture and cables, they’ll help ease the discomfort.
How to stop a kitten from biting
Aggressive kitten biting is a different matter altogether and needs to be addressed sooner rather than later. Cats are predators, so biting is a natural behaviour - therefore, it’s important to remember that your kitty isn’t misbehaving on purpose.
While they mean no harm, kitten biting can become pretty painful once your kitty grows a little bigger - and we all know how quickly that happens! Here’s how to help them kick the habit so you can enjoy lots of bite-free.play and cuddle time.
“If your kitten ever scratches or bites you, all attention and play must stop and they must be ignored. When you are playing with your kitten and they bite, the play stops immediately and you walk away,” says Lina White, author of First Steps with Puppies and Kittens: A Practice-team Approach to Behaviour.
“It’s important to be consistent. Do not one time disallow the biting, and the next time allow it because they bit gently.”
Think of it as kitten ‘time-out’. If they bite you or become aggressive, put them in a separate room immediately or completely ignore them for 10 minutes. Eventually, your kitten will understand that biting = no more playtime.
“From the very beginning, have appropriate toys for your kitten to bite during play. For interactive playtime, use toys based on a fishing-pole design. That will put a safe distance between your hands and their teeth. This way, when your kitten is enthusiastically involved in play, she doesn’t have to worry about crossing the line.” advises Pam Johnson-Bennett in CatWise.
Remember, a tired-out kitten who’s had plenty of playtime and attention from their family is much less likely to bite than a bored one.
If your little feline furball bites, the worst thing you can do is punish them. Don’t hit, scare, shout or squirt water at them. While doing these things might cause them to stop in the moment, they’re also likely to have long-term negative effects.
In fact, your kitty is likely to end up feeling afraid of you - and who wants the newest, tiniest member of the family to feel scared in their own home? Any type of punishment may also send cats into a defensive state, leading them to bite harder than they did before.
It might take a few weeks of implementing all of the above techniques to see a complete end to kitten biting. Don’t give up halfway through and undo all of your hard work. The key is to be gentle yet consistent and have patience. You’ll see an improvement eventually - some kittens may take longer to train than others.
If you’ve kept up with these steps for a few weeks and haven’t seen any improvement, it might be worth booking an appointment with your vet or a feline behavioural specialist. They’ll be able to offer advice which is unique to your cat and get any underlying problems or stressors under control.
So, that was everything you needed to know about how to stop a kitten from biting. We hope you can wave goodbye to kitten biting for good - good luck!