I found these two kittens (dumped on my property) when they were appr 3 weeks old. They are now almost 9 weeks old. Lola (who we found out is a boy...oops) has started biting me when we're playing. It's obvious that she's playing, but those little teeth are sharp!!
They will only be inside for another few months (then going to be barn cats) but I would like for her not to get in the habit of biting people. Is she teething? The other kitten doesnt bite at all. They are both SO sweet. Im sure they both think that i'm their mom. They come up to me and immediately lay on their backs so I can rub their bellies. They even do this when the dogs come up to play with them. Probably not good considering theyre going to have to live outside in the future! Anyway...how do I discourage this kitten from playfully biting me?! I dont want to be too rough or discourage biting anything--I DO want them to bite the mice in the barn one day!!
Charlie Brown (1994 bay TB X gelding)
White Star (2004 grey TB gelding)
As a kitten foster mama, I've been through this more than a few times. My usual MO is when they bite my finger, it gets stuck in their mouth just enough to make them slightly uncomfortable (NOT in PAIN!) and make the "ugh! bleh!" face. Pretty soon they don't want fingers in their mouth.
Obviously observe safety first- short well kempt nail on the finger, not so far that you make the poor kitty puke, etc. This technique works to specifically discourage finger biting, not appropriate toy or prey biting.
(Works on horses and dogs too if your timing is good!)
Do not take anything to heart. Do not hanker after signs of progress. Founder of theRiders with Fibromyalgia clique.
Bop 'em on the head. They will learn. I've dealt with lots who bite when they get excited. Just took in a 2 y.o. rescue who would seriously CHOMP when you were petting him. When he bit, I bopped him and after a few times, he realized, "oh hey, maybe sinking my fangs into skin is not an appropriate display of affection..."
With poking back or hitting them, some just think the play escalated and is even more fun, now lets play being aggressive.
That is not always good on a very outgoing active youngster.
I've had this experience, too. My oldest cat was a HORRIBLE kitten. It is amazing he survived to adulthood. If you smacked him or bopped him for biting, he would attack with teeth and claws. For him, putting him in a dog kennel and walking away worked better.
For the three-legged kitten we have who was super feral when we found him, a loud NO or growly sound works best. He still bites some, but he's getting better. I also know what signs to watch for with him and disengage before it gets to biting. He's trying less and less often..
Redirect that biting to a toy or just get up and walk away. The giving them (gently) more than they can chew sometimes works very well on older kittens but......sometimes the giving them more finger to chew on does not work: Da Magpie was one that it didn't work on and she got in the habit of wrapping her paws (claws in) around my hand and hanging on for dear life and gnawing gently on a finger and she still does if if she is stressed over something or just feels needy. She can actually lift herself with her front paws just gripping and never had to be taught not to claw. She was orphaned very young and still retains a lot of very kittenish behaviour at 3.
Founder of the Dyslexic Clique. Dyslexics of the world - UNTIE!!
I'd stop rubbing the kitten's tummy. Unlike dogs, cats are not inviting you to come in close for a belly rub when they roll over, any more than a woman with a low cut blouse is inviting you to touch her cleavage just because she's displaying it. The occasional cat may tolerate or even enjoy having its belly rubbed. With most of them, however, rolling over is a provocation. Many cats will respond to the provocation by grabbing your hand with their front paws while simultaneously biting you and bunny kicking with their back paws. While you might be able to train the cat to react gently, I don't think it's fair to provoke the animal (either accidentally or deliberately) and then get on its case for responding to the provocation.
Be ready for kitten to grow up a bit and now find great delight in ambushing you, jumping as high as it can on your leg and climbing up your side.
Just nip that one in the bud, don't let him get ideas, or get to practice.
Kitten will keep growing and then it will be a bit more dangerous to have a grown attack cat, even if the cat thinks it is play.
Great kitten toys are a ball of foil paper and a string on a stick/whip, at times add a small piece of cloth or crinkly paper on the end.
Even our adult cats loved to bop a little foil paper ball, one played goalie and was very good, or turn flips as you wiggle the stick with the string and a feather or whatever on the end.
Any play that doesn't involve people's bodies/extremities as props is preferable to being mauled by your cat.
Oh Bluey....I have already been on the recieving end of a few ambushes! They love to sneak up the back of the couch then LEAP onto my back, claws fully extended. Oy.
These cats truly love belly rubs...they will lay on their backs and just wait. They purr and purr when you rub their bellies...they dont try to grab you with their little claws unless theyre all riled up and ready to play.
I have started to get up and ignore them when they get too frisky. Seems to be working so far. Cant practice right now cause theyre passed out next to me...toooo cuuutte.
Charlie Brown (1994 bay TB X gelding)
White Star (2004 grey TB gelding)
I agree with the no belly rubs - just for now until Lil' Bitey learns to keep his fangs to himself. Also, when he starts biting, snatch hand away and say loudly (not yelling) but firmly "NO!" Then march away and don't look back. No petting or anything for awhile, until he approaches you. Then give gentle pets on head and back. Do this every time he bites and he will quickly learn you are no fun when he does that. This worked like a charm on a cat I had that was a really vicious biter when he became over-stimulated (and it didn't take much to overstimulate him). He is now a good citizen and the biting has ceased. Or try this - when he starts biting give him a good toy to gnaw on and when he bites it, then praise him verbally. He learns hand - bad, toy - good. Good luck!
"Cats aren't clean; they're covered with cat spit."
- John S Nichols (1745-1846,writer/printer)
Also, when he starts biting, snatch hand away and say loudly (not yelling) but firmly "NO!" Then march away and don't look back. No petting or anything for awhile, until he approaches you. Then give gentle pets on head and back. Do this every time he bites and he will quickly learn you are no fun when he does that.
I was playing on the floor with my then kitten on her first morning after adoption. She playfully bit me and I yelled, "NO!" threw her toy down in front of her, turned my back on her, and completely ignored her. She immediately got upset and made questioning burbles, but I kept ignoring her. She soon approached me and started rubbing.
That is the ONLY time in her life this cat has bit me. Now, she's exceptionally intelligent in a mad-scientist kind of way, but this method (startle the crap out of them with NO, redirect to a toy, then ignore them until they approach you,) does work. Installing a, "NO!" in a cat at a young age is never a bad thing.
I've also done the finger stuck in mouth thing on fosters who have been particularly stubborn, but I haven't had a lot of truly hard cases. Usually the startle/toy/ignore works and I don't have to go there.