Cat claws at me while playing
Hi! Is there a way to stop my cat (or train her to stop) clawing at me while we play? I try to play with her to get all the energy out of her system but when she gets excited she just tries to go for my hands with all her claws out. It can be quite painful so I end up not wanting to play with her anymore haha! Does anyone have any suggestions? Thank you!
Thanks for getting in touch! Cats are naturally predatory animals, so it’s quite natural that they claw and bite when they play. Unfortunately, a lot of cats are taught to play with our hands and feet when they are kittens (we often encourage it because we find it cute, and it’s not painful…yet)! But when they become adults, their teeth and claws are a lot more painful, so it’s important to try and change that behaviour.
I would recommend purchasing lots of cat toys – ones that you can use as an extension of your hand. For example, a cat wand with little feathers or toys at the end are great fun for cats, and enable you to keep your hands at a safe distance from their claws. If it’s a matter of tiring out your kitty, know there are tons of other toys you can get (e.g. tunnels, trees, puzzles, etc), that will keep your cat physically and mentally stimulated.
Finally, remember that positive reinforcement works wonders. If you’ve had a positive play session with no clawing or biting, reward your cat with a little treat. If she does try to claw or bite during a play session, just stop playing and ignore her. Overtime, she’ll understand “clawing” = end of playtime, and “no clawing” = treat.
Hope this helps! Best of luck!
Justine Seraphin, BSc (Hons) Animal Behaviour and Welfare
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