Last Updated on August 22, 2022 by Pets Feed
Kittens are very mobile and playful. For them, the game is not only entertainment, but also a way to get comfortable in the environment, to develop vital skills. In addition, the main skill that children understand is hunting. Unsurprisingly, in a fit of excitement, they often lose control and begin to bite and scratch their owners.
The owner of the animal must define the limits of acceptable behavior from the first days. But do this so that the kitten does not feel offended and does not harbor resentment. Proper upbringing of a pet will make it comfortable to coexist with people. Let’s take a look at the main reasons for aggressive behavior, how to deal with it and wean the kitten from biting and scratching.
Why is the kitten biting and scratching?
Normally, an animal should be friendly to humans, as cats were tamed several hundred years ago and trust in humans is fixed at the genetic level. But there are times when behavioral “failures” do occur, and it is very important to detect their cause correctly and in time.
There are also a number of cat breeds characterized by caution towards people, reluctance to close contact, isolation, and a strong hunting instinct. When choosing a pet for yourself, you need to take this into account. In addition, for these cats, the correct attitude of the owner is of great importance, since it is much more difficult to wean an adult cat from biting and scratching than a kitten. Once this behavior is normal, it will be difficult to eradicate it.
The reasons why kittens start to bite and scratch can be divided into several groups:
- Educational problems and psychological difficulties.
Passion for the game
Domestic cats are deprived of the need and the ability to hunt. The person takes care of the animal, provides it with food and comfortable accommodation. Thus, the natural instincts are suppressed, which can only affect the behavior of the animal. As a result, play becomes a form of self-expression of the kitten. An invincible desire to be a hunter drives him to hide in a corner, watch the movement of a potential victim, and then suddenly pounce on her.
In the wild, the result of hunting is the killing of prey. Domestic cats are addicted to the game itself. Having caught a toy mouse, they bite for a long time, twirl, slap it with their paws, stretching the pleasure. Such pleasure is vital for a kitten and an adult cat or cat. A person should not suppress the game activity of an animal, at the same time it should be within certain limits.
Excessive enthusiasm for play is the most common reason a kitten bites and grabs, you can wean it from this with a good education.
An example is the cheetah and its way of hunting in the wild. He attacks a victim who largely overtakes him in droves. The predator grabs its teeth in the animal’s skin, grabs it with its front paws, and then strikes with its hind paws. This is how small domestic kittens often play with the hands of their owners. It’s funny at first, but later, when the cat gets older, the hits and bites won’t be so harmless.
The same can be said for an attack on the legs of a person. The kitten rushes at the walking owner, hitting with a swing with his front paw. This is one of the tips for throwing an animal into the wild. Although jumping and biting the legs can also indicate a lack of attention and an urge to play. It happens that playing aggressively is not associated with excessive enthusiasm, but on the contrary with the desire to play and boredom.
Poor kitten health
A kitten can bite and scratch if it doesn’t feel right. The most common ailments:
- Teeth are cut – a fairly short period in kittens, the problem is solved by buying special toys or treats that can be chewed and chewed for a long time;
- Fatigue – the kitten does not want to be disturbed or petted, and makes the owner understand this by biting or scratching it lightly;
- Hormonal changes – for example, during pregnancy and breastfeeding;
- Illness – a kitten, not knowing other ways to signal a person, begins to bite and scratch. In this case, you should pay attention to the presence of other signs of the disease – loss of appetite, pain when touching, impaired urination.
If the reason for the assault lies in the well-being of the kitten, you do not need to wean it from biting and scratching – you just need to take the animal to a vet who will examine it and prescribe a treatment.
Some cats just don’t like certain touches, for example in the abdomen. It is a vulnerable place for felines, whose damage threatens death – understanding of danger is fixed at the level of instincts, therefore aggression in response to stroking the abdomen is a normal reflex reaction. Pet the animal in such a way that it is not only a joy for you, do not do what is unpleasant for the kitten, and do not be unnecessarily intrusive. Maybe later, when the cat starts to trust you more, it will substitute its belly for petting – this is a sign that the animal considers you a close friend and is not afraid.
The largest and most complex group of reasons is associated with behavioral characteristics. Cats are mysterious and rebellious creatures. Each of them has its own character, on the basis of which a pattern of behavior is formed. This is the complexity of education – there are no universal recipes for weaning kittens from bites and scratches from childhood. Rather, we can talk about general recommendations and what should not be allowed.
Aggressive behavior can be caused for a variety of reasons.
- Frightened and stressed – when sensing danger, the kitten can hiss, puff its tail, and most likely run and hide. But if there is no escape route, the animal can attack. Something specific can frighten a kitten, for example, a high pitched sound, smell, or the behavior of another pet. But sometimes aggression is part of the adaptation. Many kittens endure the move and the new environment painfully. In this case, it is enough to leave the animal alone, which gives it time to get comfortable and understand that the new place is not dangerous.
- Competition – The kitten is aggressive towards other animals at home or on the street. This applies to cats and cats. Fighting for territory is one of the strongest instincts in a feline. If the cause of concern is the neighbor’s cats, which the animal can simply see through the window, close the curtains for a while. Unable to chase away competitors, the kitten can attack people nearby. If the reason is another animal already living with you, it is more difficult to resolve the issue. Very often it is impossible to reconcile the animals. A cage with a bird or a rodent can be placed in a room where a kitten does not exist. But if it is a dog or a cat, it will not work to isolate the animals from each other.
- Protection of the territory – the kitten considers that part of your apartment belongs to him. If you try to force him out of her, aggression may be a response. Typically, it is also associated with parenting errors and owners rewarding inappropriate behavior.
- Early weaning and small age of the kitten. The cat lays the foundation for raising a baby. She gradually weaned the kittens from milk, forcing them to switch to solid food. In addition, an adult cat strictly suppresses unacceptable behavior, including spanking and punishing babies. When a kitten is weaned early from its mother, the person must take over the educational functions. But he tends to spoil the animal. As a result, it turns out that the kitten does not have corking behavior, and it will be difficult to wean it from biting and scratching in the future.
- Character and heredity. We know that aggressive behavior is inherited. Professional breeders specifically eliminate individuals with inappropriate behavior so that their genes are not passed on to future generations. But if you took a kitten from a garden cat, be prepared for the fact that it will not be easy to tame it. He does not trust people, is not used to close contact with them and, therefore, may react in a hostile manner to attempts to improve relationships.
- Inappropriate rewards and parenting mistakes are a very common reason you can’t stop a kitten from biting and scratching. Initially, the owner chose the wrong model of behavior, encouraging aggression and not suppressing the kitten’s inappropriate actions.
- Psychological characteristics and problems are the most difficult group of causes of aggressive behavior to resolve. These include dominance, a sense of vulnerability, owner worship, revenge, lack of attention, nocturnal activity, breed specificity, lack of physical activity, complexes.
Domination involves competition with the owner or the perception of him as a weaker creature. When it feels vulnerable, the kitten decides to attack so as not to be attacked. Worship of the owner means excessive attachment to one of the family members, in which the kitten lashes out at others. With a lack of attention and physical activity, the behavior of kittens is very similar to that of children in a similar situation. They play naughty, tearing up the upholstery of the sofa and wallpaper for fun and attention. Nocturnal attacks on owners are associated with the instinct of the hunter and, as a rule, are resolved only by the separate sleep of a person and an animal.
Aggression can be a characteristic of a breed. The leader in the ranking of the most mean and vindictive cats is the Siamese. They say she can attack and bite the owner for an insult inflicted a few days ago. Various hybrid breeds, which are a mixture of feral and domestic cats, are also aggressive. For example, the savannah with the genes of the African serval, Chausie – a mixture with a jungle cat, Desert Lynx – a hybrid with an American red lynx, and many others.
American Maine Coon, British Shorthair and Scottish Fold cats are strong-willed. Representatives of these breeds are sensitive to human behavior and are easily offended. But most owners still refer to them as very affectionate, intelligent, friendly and playful cats.
It is worth mentioning another reason why the kitten bites the owner. A bite can be a manifestation of not only aggression, but also love. In nature, animals take care of each other and show sympathy. It is easy to distinguish such a bite from aggression: the kitten lightly bites its hand, then licks it, then alternates between biting and licking again.
How to deal with kitten aggression while playing
Based on the above reasons, you can give advice on how to wean the kitten from biting and scratching during play.
- Let the kitten know that it is unacceptable to scratch and bite a person’s hands while playing. Give him toys, scratching posts, balls in return. React strictly if the kitten bites and scratches, stop playing immediately so that he understands that he has done the wrong thing.
- Encourage the kitten to play with toys, reward it with a treat. He must understand that only objects can be hunted, and not the human body.
- If the kitten has bitten you, do not remove its hand – this will only provoke it. Move your hand towards the mouth, not out of it. This will confuse the animal and break the hunter-prey plot. Accompany your actions with verbal reproach so that he understands by your tone that you are unhappy and scolds him.
- Do not let the animal even jokingly scratch furniture or a person, stop such attempts immediately.
- Offer the kitten the possibility of sharpening its claws, equip yourself with a special place for it. Whenever he tries to scratch walls or furniture, take him to the scratching post, accompanying him with stern verbal instructions.
- If the kitten is carried away by the game and goes beyond the edge of what is allowed, divert its attention to an object that will interest it: a ball, a twig, a string, a bow or any other toy.
- If the kitten has a strong grip on your hand, relax it and stop moving. In nature, it means the death of the victim, so the predator instinctively opens its jaws.
- Sometimes the decision may be to buy a second kitten – it will be more fun for two animals and you won’t have to seek human attention. At the same time, in this way, you can cause competition between the kittens, so it is better to take two babies at the same time, so that they first share the territory with each other and establish relationships.
- Remember that a kitten is not a toy, do not allow yourself or the children to torment it, grab its ears, its paws, pull its tail. The animal very sensitively understands the rules of behavior – if aggression is allowed against a person, this is also possible for him. In addition, a defensive reaction, a feeling of vulnerability, anger and other psychological factors add to it.
- For very playful kittens, it is recommended to equip an entertainment corner where they can climb, jump, sharpen their claws and play with hanging toys.
How to Correct Kitten Breeding Mistakes
In most cases, it is necessary to wean a kitten from biting and scratching due to errors in human behavior.
- Do not allow the animal to play with the person’s hands and feet. Bites and scratches during play are entirely the fault of the owner. To stop inappropriate behavior, you can shout loudly, clap. Some owners of playful kittens advise whistling – this is how animals threaten each other, so that they can very clearly perceive such a signal.
- Be careful with punishments. A person must not show aggression towards an animal. You can slap the kitten lightly on the nose, but don’t cross the line between reporting inappropriate behavior and causing pain. You cannot hit the animal with your hands and feet, use a light newspaper or a thin twig. Do not lock your kitten in a confined space. The ideal punishment is a spray bottle with water. It does not cause harm or pain, but the animal remembers this unpleasant effect well. And remember that the punishment must be immediate, within 2-3 seconds after the offense. In addition, the kitten will no longer understand why you are punishing him and will simply perceive it as unfriendly behavior.
- A common mistake is to pet the owner before an unpleasant procedure, for example, a bath or a vaccination. Such seduction creates negative experiences and distrust of the person. In the future, with any caress, the animal will expect something bad and react aggressively.
You can also give some general tips on how to wean the kitten from biting and scratching:
- Most often, take the kitten in your arms, pet it, if it is perceived positively by it;
- Create a calm atmosphere at home, try not to shout or argue with other family members – this way the animal will be calmer;
- Do not try to break the character of the animal, but also do not allow it to manipulate you, do not continue when the kitten asks for something with bites or in any other inappropriate manner;
- Play with the kitten more often, giving it the opportunity to frolic. A good solution for this would be a laser pointer – any kitten loves to run after a shiny moving point.
How to wean a kitten with a problematic scratching and biting psyche
Cats have a fairly complex psyche, combining heredity, reflexes, acquired behavioral stereotypes. Just like humans, they have mental health issues and disorders.
There are several recommendations on how to wean a kitten with psychological complexes of biting and scratching.
- Respect the animal’s personal space. Sometimes the cause of suffering is the inability to retire and rest. A cat in a noisy environment dozes, but does not sleep, constantly being ready for the onset of danger. Chronic overwork therefore leads to irritability and aggressive behavior.
- Give the kitten the opportunity to hide somewhere high up. It could be a special house or just a place on a shelf that he can go to. Cats feel safe observing their surroundings from a height. Remember the garden cats that climb a tree at the slightest danger.
- The place where the kitten eats should also be calm and detached.
- Let the kitten have his things. It can only be toys. Give it an old sweater, a towel, a blanket – something that once belonged to you, but can now be a litter box for the animal to sleep on.
- Follow your daily routine and your diet. The established diet is the psychological support of the animal.
There are times when it is almost impossible to cope with cat aggression. If there is a “cult of the owner” then all that remains is to adapt and be guided by general recommendations for handling a pet. This problem occurs especially often when a new family member appears, for example, a child. A cat lives in an already established hierarchy and aggressively perceives a stranger. The solution here can be the behavior of the owner himself – he needs to make the animal understand that the new family member is important to him and that it is unacceptable to bite him.
Sometimes a so-called idiopathic aggression occurs. It can occur in both a kitten and an adult cat. Previously, a loving animal suddenly began to rush at people, including the owner. It is not always possible to determine the reason, most often it happens after experiencing severe stress, illness or hormonal disruption. If the cause cannot be found and eradicated and the animal’s behavior does not change, it is euthanized. Unfortunately, these mental disorders cannot be corrected. But such a pathology is very rare, in most cases a kitten can be successfully weaned after biting and scratching, especially if you do it immediately from the moment it appears in the house.