Kitten Biting — Here’s How to Stop It

Kitten Biting — Here’s How to Stop It

Kitten biting can be cute and harmless when your cat is a baby, but can turn painful as cats get bigger. Here’s how to stop kitten biting the right way.

When my former pet, Leroy, was a kitten, he loved to pounce on anything that moved — including hands, feet and the legs of people (or animals) passing by where he crouched. In fact, he liked biting our hands as much as he liked biting his toys. What seemed cute when Leroy was tiny soon became painful as he became more agile and a little bigger. What was the fascination with biting us? He loved being around us and enjoyed our company — so why bite the people you love? Why do kittens bite and how do you stop kitten biting appropriately and effectively before the cute kitten biting becomes serious cat biting?

Kitten biting: Why kittens bite

A gray kitten bites a hand.

It turns out that kitten biting is part of the play behavior kittens learn when they are with their litter mates. “This is the time when each kitten learns how to use an inhibited bite so as not to cause injury,” explains Pam Johnson-Bennett, certified cat behaviorist and owner of Cat Behavior Associates. “A kitten who bites too hard is either reprimanded by the queen or gets a very negative reaction from a litter mate. This social play is important, and each kitten soon learns the rules.”

How to stop kitten biting

Laughing and smiling at Leroy’s kitten biting behavior when he was little encouraged him to continue it. We soon learned to give Leroy appropriate toys and to stop playing with him immediately if he bit us during playtime — but as we later learned, we should have employed these training methods from the very beginning.

“The first and foremost rule when training a kitten to play gently is to not use your fingers as toys,” Johnson-Bennett says. “No matter how young your kitten is and whether it hurts when she bites or not, this isn’t the message you want to send to her. Biting flesh is never to be allowed.”

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