Biting and Scratching: Control Aggression in Your New Kitten

When I first brough home my little Oliver I was excited to be the proud parent of a baby kitten. I’ve had cats since I was a little girl, but I’ve never had a kitten of my own. I thought raising him was going to be cake, and for the most part it was. I knew exactly how to care for my kitten in every way. Or so I thought.

When Oliver was about 8 months old, he started showing mild aggression toward me, and others. He would scratch the furniture, flip his water bowl over, and knock over trash cans. He would bite and scratch instead of playing with his toys. I didn’t really bother the scratching of the furniture, but everything else was really starting to aggrivate me.

I tried several different techniques to get my kitten to behave. Lightly tapping his nose, spraying him with water, locking him in his cage, and ignoring him. I found that tapping him on the nose actually made him more aggressive. Even if you lightly tap a kitten on the nose, he sees it as a threat. Tapping a kitten on the nose will make him more likely to bite and scratch you.Doing this repeatedly will make the kitten scared of you, and he will feel like he has to defend himself.

I thought spraying my kitten with a water bottle would help stop the bad behavior. Boy was I wrong! At first he would stare right at me and not move when I aimed the spray bottle at him. After a using this technique for about 2 days, he would run and hide at the sight of the water bottle. But only after a few weeks he began to attack me when I sprayed him, biting my legs and my feet, as well as jumping up at me and attacking me when I turned my back. Just like tapping him on the nose, he felt he needed to defend himself, from me. This was a very dissapointing feeling. I don’t want my kitten to be scared of me, but I can’t be scared of him either.

Locking him in his cage only calmed him and it did not suppress the bad behavior. My home was more a mess than ever with knocked over trash cans, shredded toilet paper, and scattered cat toys. My kitten was still biting and scratching me and others. He even attempted to bite the veternarian during grooming.

I found the best way to suppress my kitten’s aggression was to be firm with him. I found that telling him “NO” firmly and loudly was a much better deterent than a spray bottle or a tap on the nose. Snapping my fingers was also a good way to divert his attention away from garbage cans and toilet paper rolls. Sometimes he still strikes back with agression, either chasing me around the house, or trying to jump on me. The best way to stop counter aggression from your kitten is to ignore the kitten’s advances.

When you play with your new kitten make sure that you initiate play. Never let your cat initiate play, especially if he is using aggression like biting and scratching, even crying. When you initiate play your kitten learns that you are the alpha, not him. Always play with toys designed for cat usage. Using your hands and feets as stimulation will train the cat to think it is okay to bite and scratch at these parts of your body. Stimulate you cat with toys that are at least an arms length away from your body, or toys that you can throw for the kitten to retrieve. Playing too close may cause your kitten to strike at your hands, arms, legs, or feet.

My kitten Oliver and I play with long peices of fabric or feathers, tied to a long string or fishing pole. Toys that hang from door knobs or the ceiling are especially great for small kittens. Using these kinds of toys, and being firm with your new kitten will teach him the proper way to interact with you and others. If you just show a loving but no nonsense attitude your kitten he will learn to beahave, and ultimately show little or no aggression. After just 2 weeks of training my 8 month old kitten this way, he started behaving much better. We experience slip ups every now and then, but for the most part my kitten is much better behaved and shows little aggression.

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