As soon as a kitten opens its eyes and stands on its tiny paws, its starts to play. But if you take a closer look, you’ll notice that you have an itty-bitty predator in your house. Practically everything that your beloved kitten does is a display of its hunting skills, as its instincts are just as strong as they were in its ancestors many centuries ago. A kitten sees everything, and I mean everything, in the house as a potential prey, including you.
Learn you kitten to play
First playmates of every kitten are its litter mates and its mother, and from them it learns how to inhibit its bite. If a kitten is separated from its family too early, it may not learn this lesson well enough. Additionally, if you use your hands and/or feet in place of toys when playing with your kitten, it may learn that there’s nothing wrong with rough play. Luckily, it is not overly difficult to teach your kitten that rough play is unacceptable.
If playing with your kitten gets out of hand, there are several things you should do. First of all, don’t let it play with your hands or feet or other body parts, as this will send the wrong message.Use a toy instead, dragging it along the floor so thatyour kitten can pounce on it, or throw it for your kitten to chase. In some cases, kittens will even bring you the toy back, but don’t count on it. Give your young feline buddy something to wrestle with, so it can grab this thing with front feet, bite it, and kick it with back feet. In this way kittens usually play with each other when they are young. It is also a way they play with your feet and hands, so you need to provide an alternative play target.
Image credit: Stefmar Australia
Discourage Unwanted Behavior
Playing is essentially not bad behavior. That said, you do have to establish some rules for your little friend, the most important of which is that biting is unacceptable. And every member of your household must be on the same page here, as double standards will only confuse your kitten. Equip yourself with the proper training tools – a heap of toys and a water pistol. Whatever you do, never hit your kitten or yell at it when it pounces or nips. This will only make matters worse and the little creature may start to avoid you as a result. The idea is not to punish your kitten, but to train it.
The Gnawing Issue
As I said, your kitten shouldn’t be allowed to play with your body parts. But if it starts to gnaw on you when you are petting it, instantly say something like “ouch!” and slowly take your hands away. Don’t try to pet it again until it’s worn out and no longer tempted to attack your hand.You can also put a bad-tasting, yet harmless, substance on your hands to make them unappealing.
Natural Born Hunter
Another thing kittens adore is to “hunt” you while you are on the move. They’ll jump out from under a chair or behind a door and pounce on your legs. If you kitten doesn’t pounce, praise it by saying “good kitty”. If it does pounce, however, use your sharp “ouch” to distract it and interrupt its behavior.You have probably noticed that your kitten always wants to play with whatever you are using – pencils, phones, remotes, you name it. If yours does this, sharply say “ouch” to disrupt its behavior and give it one of its own toys.
Don’t pay attention
If distractions and redirections don’t work, the most drastic measure you can take to discourage your kitten from rough play is to completely withdraw attention.Walking to another room and closing the door long enough for the kitty to calm down is probably the best way to withdraw your attention. If you pick the kitten up and put it in another room, you are rewarding it by touching it, so always be the one to leave the room.