Dear Dr. Baum —
Hi, Dr. Baum! My cats have been going to you for years, and now I have a new kitten. He’s almost 2 months old and EXTREMELY hyper (even for a kitten). He’s a sweetheart but he bites people (including me) CONSTANTLY. I can tell he’s playing, and perhaps teething, but he doesn’t realize that it’s beginning to hurt! He doesn’t understand “no” and doesn’t respond to the spray bottle. How do I get him to stop biting? Will this come naturally, once he’s older and neutered, or am I possibly looking at having an aggressive adult cat?
Thank you, You’re the best vet there is!
Los Angeles, CA
Hi, Brittany —
If your kitty is truly “play biting” the solution is for you not to use your hands as toys. It is easier to shift the focus of the kitten’s actions rather than to try to stop them entirely. You do this by using “toys” as extensions of your hands to direct the biting and scratching to these objects rather than directing the “attack” to your hands. Kittens are attracted to movement, so when you lead with your hands and then try to withdraw them abruptly, your hands become an irresistible target. Although it may seem unnatural, you should condition yourself not to abruptly withdraw your hands when the cat pounces, because a still, relaxed hand offers very little excitement for the kitten. Utilizing this technique has saved me from severe scratches and bites to my hands in the course of examinations over the years. Cats are naturally curious, so rotating the types of toys will keep them interested and attracted to them.
On the other hand, if the kitty bites and stalks with bad intentions, the above suggestions combined with anti anxiety medications or hormonal treatments may be appropriate.