Did you adopt a new kitten over the holidays? It never fails when a new kitten arrives. We oooooh and ahhh and the lil’ snuggle baby seduces us with purrs and sweet whisker kisses, and looks so darned innocent when she falls asleep on our lap. But all of that pet play antics means kitten play aggression is on the horizon.
Yep, that wide-eyed wonder turns into the DEVIL CAT with claws out ambushing ankles and launching from hidden spots. When Seren was a baby (gosh, that was 21 years ago!) she used my legs as move-able scratching posts. Now Karma-Kat does the same thing, Ouch!
KITTEN PLAY AGGRESSION
The latest crop of kittens by now has reached the age when kitten play aggression takes over. If you don’t have other cats for her to learn better claw-and-teeth manners, you’re in for a rough few weeks. But she WILL outgrow the behavior. Learn more about how cats play on this post.
And remember, the way cats play greatly differs from the way puppies and dogs play.
Meanwhile, the Ask Amy tips below will help you keep your sanity.
I’ve lots more kitten care tips in the book Complete Kitten Care as well as the ComPETability: Cats behavior book. Your turn. I know a number of very cat-savvy folks follow this blog. What tips can you share about managing the kitten’s juvenile delinquent behavior? Do tell!
I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Do you have a new kitten and need answers? Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter. Stay up to date with the latest book giveaways and appearances related to my September Day pet-centric THRILLERS WITH BITE!
Amy Shojai, CABC is a certified cat & dog behavior consultant, a consultant to the pet industry, and the award-winning author of 35+ pet-centric books and Thrillers with Bite! Oh, and she loves bling!
Every cat I’ve ever had was aggressive. Surely, it wasn’t me!
Consistency is, of course, the biggest factor in getting kittens trained. Foot-ounces resulted in him being taken off the bed and placed onto the floor without ceremony. Bite inhibition started early – he learned “owowow” meant he was getting too rough, and “no bite” meant he needed to STOP, because we agreed on those commands early on and stopped the game when he did not comply.
Redirect objects are incredibly useful for the ankle attacks. But sometimes mimicking a good old hiss when they absolutely WILL NOT STOP works well, at least if they were with other kittens long enough – it’s a clear and understandable signal to them, though we always used it as a near-last resort (much like most momma cats I’ve seen).
The tricky part is simply that you have to keep at it, and not let them tire you out to where you just ignore the behavior and let them keep doing it, because it will take a few weeks – sometimes a few months depending on your kitten’s energy levels – to get the message across that yes, this is in fact a no-no every single time. (It’s the same way we teach ours not to get on the counters and tables).
Exactly! If you DO give in, that simply teaches them that the longer they persist, the better the chance they’ll get to continue the game with their own rules. *s*