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How To Make A Playful Kitten Stop Biting And Scratching You Without Being Too Rough

Updated on August 4, 2013

Baby Kitten On Board

My son found a very young abandoned kitten near our house several weeks ago. We took him in (at least, I THINK it's a him LOL) and fed him milk, and now he's eating solid kitten food.

And my oh my is he playful!

He constantly attacks us, biting our hands and feet. Sometimes he keeps us awake all night long...he just won't leave us alone!

So far, he isn't really clawing up our furniture, but as he gets older, he will definitely need a scratching post so he can stretch out his claws without ruining our home.

But how do we get him to stop scratching and biting us?

Should I Trim My Cat's Claws Or Maybe Have Him De-Clawed?

When I was a kid, we had an indoor cat, and my mom had her de-clawed to keep our furniture and door/window screens from being destroyed. As an adult and homeowner, I totally get that, and I have to admit that the thought has crossed my mind when it's 2am in the morning and this crazy kitten won't stop biting my feet!

But I don't think that de-clawing is cool. I've read that it can be painful and uncomfortable for the cats...not only the procedure and initial recovery time, but that it can cause problems for them throughout the rest of their lives.

So no, we won't be removing our kitten's claws.

Even trimming cat's claws can be complicated, since the claws actually have nerves that run up inside the claws themselves. So clipping them can actually cut the nerves and be excruciatingly painful. If anything, only the very tips should be trimmed.

Cats out in nature are constantly digging around and running on rocky surfaces, so their claws are being scraped down and shortened naturally. Housecats, on the other hand, don't go through that process, so we may need to give his nails a trim before too long.

Don't Hit Your Cat And Yell At Him - He's Just Being A Kid!

Sometimes training a baby cat is similar to training a baby person. Sure, you could get the results you want my yelling at them and smacking them in the head whenever they do something that you don't like.

But is that really the best way to train your kitten? I don't think so.

We don't allow our kitty go on the kitchen table, so whenever he hops up on my lap and tries to go on the table, I just give him a stern, "Nooo" and gently push his paws right back off the table. After repeated attempts and denials, he gets the hint and gives up.

The same goes with getting his rough playful behavior under control. It's frustrating when he keeps shredding my hands and feet, but I've learned to not lose my temper and go nuts on him.

I don't want him to be afraid of me, so I started using other tactics, and so's working!

Why Do Kittens Bite And Scratch So Hard?

Kittens are just doing what they do; they're playing. And if your kitten is an "only child" then he's going to be playing with you around the clock because he has no brothers or sisters to play with.

Just like human children are apt to do, kittens will sometimes get a little out of hand and hurt somebody with all their roughhousing. Also like human kids, the harder we play with our cats, the harder they will play back. So if you or other household members are wrestling with your kitten, keep in mind that that will just make her play harder.

It's probably kind of a good thing for young cats to play rough with each other like this. It's a way of testing themselves, strengthening themselves. Wild/feral cats have to be pretty tough to defend themselves and survive, so this playtime is actually a way of training for future conflicts.

But your pet shouldn't have to worry about that. So all that kitty self defense training has got to go.

How To Train Your Kitten To Stop Attacking Your Hands And Feet

Okay, so here's what I did to make my kitten stop playing so rough.

Whenever my playful kitten starts to scratch and bite me, I simply place both hands on him and hold him down so that he can't move, and I give him that firm "No" in a low voice. He'll squirm and try to wiggle free, but I don't let him go.

Then I wait until he cries out 5 or 6 times. That's when I take my hands away and he quickly runs off.

It's important not to smash him down into the ground or into your leg when doing this (wearing jeans or old pants is a good idea during this time). You don't want to hurt him or make it hard for him to breathe; you just want to hold him in place so that he gets frustrated and stops the rough behavior. And be sure to use that verbal cue too. In time, he'll respond to you without holding him down...just saying "No" will have an effect.

The first several times I did this, he would quickly twist and kick and cry out in frustration...and he was pissed at me! You can tell because he'll whip his tail around haha! (Dogs wag their tails when they're happy, but cats wag their tails when they're annoyed).

But after few times, he starts settling down faster. Now, when I hold him down, he gets quiet, he rarely tries to get away, and he relaxes his tail. Then when I let him up, he just sits there. He may look at me or look at my hands, but he doesn't try to attack them so much any more, because he's learned what will happen.

In the past, whenever I tried to pet him, he'd think I'm trying to play and so he'd start biting my hand. But now he's learned not to do that, and so he actually lets me pet him without freaking out.

Give it a try for a few days and see for yourself how quickly your kitten starts to change his behavior!

So What Is Your Kitten Going To Play With?

It's not enough to just discourage the "bad" behavior. You don't want her scratching up your house or your feet and hands, but...she's a cat. She still wants to play, so be sure to provide some alternatives so that she can receive the attention and stimulation that a growing kitty needs.

Be sure she has stuff like this to play with...

  • a scratching post with some string or ribbons hanging down
  • moderately sized ball (tennis ball or something she cannot choke on)
  • small doll or toy mouse to chew on (no buttons or pieces that can come off though)
  • even a plastic bottle with the cap on - it bounces easily and is noisy

Our little guy, all tuckered out after a long day of driving us crazy...
Our little guy, all tuckered out after a long day of driving us crazy... | Source


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    • TheHubFactory profile image

      TheHubFactory 4 years ago from USA

      Thanks Eddy. How good for Tabs and Meg to have a home and a loving family to care for them. And good for you!

      You have a wonderful day too.


    • Eiddwen profile image

      Eiddwen 4 years ago from Wales

      So interesting and thank you for sharing. We have recently(three weeks ago) by Tabs and Meg; Mother and kitten who'd been abandoned in a small town around 30 miles away. We now wonder what on earth we did before they came. I am voting this gem up and sharing.

      Enjoy your day.