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Love bite or just a bite? (How to Handle Kitten Teething & Play biting)

Updated: May 6

The first question I get asked is 'How do I stop my kitten from biting? My answer is, "it cannot be done". Then I proceed to explain myself before anyone bursts into tears. This can be handled so that you don't turn into lunch. It should be redirected rather than stopped.

Kitten play biting and teething has a very essential function which we can use to help them learn and grow. All kittens teeth just like human babies do, but they have claws and can launch themselves off your television. This makes the situation more urgent.

Let's answer a few questions...
Golden Rule: Always rule out the medical

Pain can make anyone grumpy. Kittens are susceptible to illness at a young age. Worms is a very serious and common issue that can result in a feeling of hunger and an increase or decrease in activity. It's important to speak to your vet and make sure your kitten is up to date with their vaccines and deworming. The pain from the arrival of new teeth itself can be a source of pain. Please make sure you have enough semi-hard toys that are designed to tackle teething.

When does my kitten start and stop teething?

Kittens teeth from 10 weeks to about 6 months of age. There is a lot of learning that happens during this phase and it ends very quickly so you must act fast. The critical period of socialization in kittens occurs mainly occurs between 4-16 weeks. This means as the kittens grow, their brain is particularly sensitive to the surroundings. All positive or negative experiences will have a lasting impact on their behaviour. Socialization doesn't mean you put the kitten into intensely social situations with a lot of other cats or people. This can be overwhelming rather you should focus on giving the kitten space and positive things along with new people and experiences.

What toys should I buy?

You should look for toys that are sturdy but that have a slightly softer side. These toys are similar to human and puppy teething toys. For kittens, they should be smaller and you should have plenty to avoid boredom. You need to rotate your toys as kittens get bored very soon. You can divide your toys into chasing toys & biting toys. This means if you add movement to any of the toys below they automatically become interesting.

Here are some toys that I recommend for chasing:

Here are some toys I recommend for biting:

How do I get my kitten to stop biting ME?

As mentioned earlier we cannot stop the biting but one should redirect the kitten to bite more appropriate things. Redirection is one part of your solution. It's easy to focus on what you don't want. e.g. DON'T bite my leg. STOP biting my hand...

Instead, It's important to focus on what behaviour you want. E.g. Bite this toy, chase that toy. This is a clear message for your kitten.

A word of warning though... if you ONLY give your kitten toys when they bite you then you could be TRAINING them to bite you. Re-direction means directing all their biting energy to toys before they bite you.

Risk Management is your second part. This means blocking access to your legs and hands with pillows, blankets, cardboard boxes etc. This allows the kitten to focus on the toy and will break the habit of chewing on you. This must be done calmly. This is what you do when they bite you instead of toys.

"I have tried toys, My kitten gets bored or will still come for my hands and legs! How do I handle that?"

When you 'give' your kittens teething toys...

do you place them down for the kitten and walk away or watch them?

Do you hold a smaller toy with your hand and move it around?

Do you ever use your fingers as a toy?

If the answer is 'yes' then the outcome is expected. Our hands and legs have something that those toys normally don't which is 'Movement'. Kittens are little hunters and are very attracted to movement. If we add 'movement' to their teething toys that will make it less boring. You can do this safely with any ribbon or string attached. Teaser toys that can be purchased from any store are also an option. You want to look for toys that have features that mimic prey like feathers, fur, squeaky, small, round etc.

Pro Tip: Timing is everything. Please ensure you are not waiting for your kitten to bite you before you introduce a toy. This pattern of behaviour (i.e. bite...toy...bite...toy) can result in the kitten learning to bite you to play.

Does saying "NO" loudly help?

This is the most common advice I hear and it DOES NOT WORK. The entire principle behind it is correction and fear. If you walk into a room and you hear a scream, I'm sure you would run away quickly enough. One would hope this would mean the kitten would never do that again but we are not addressing the cause, rather we are trying to correct the outcome.

For example: If you are hungry and try to eat, I slap you and say, "No"... Will that stop you from eating?

If your head is itching and you go to itch it, I slap you and say, "No"... Will that stop you from itching?

So, the only lesson you learn is that I am not a very nice person because I keep slapping you. However, you will still eat some food and itch your head but you will avoid me as much as you can.

Everyone here understands this perfectly, yet we hope to say no to a teething kitten and expect him/her to stop biting. The result is a kitten who is afraid of you and will bite out of fear, pain and frustration.

What if nothing else works?

Assuming you have tried everything above and you still are struggling, you can reach out to me and book a 1-1 session HERE Several times, there are patterns we may not be aware of that a trained professional would be able to see. Kittens grow up very quickly. One session today can save you time, money and pain tomorrow.


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