How do you stop a kitten from biting and scratching me?

The question is not mine. The problem does not concern me, I hasten to add, but there are lot of people who are asking that wise old man Dr. Google how to stop their kitten biting and scratching them.

Now, I raised my cat from a 7-week-old-kitten and I never had a problem with being scratched or bitten – although I was bitten by him when he grew up due to redirected aggression and the fact that he was born feral. So I have to come to the regrettable conclusion that the questioners are playing with their kitten in a way which exposes them to being scratched.

That points to them using their hands at close quarters to their kitten when playing with them. Playing with a kitten is imperative but it should be done with a cat tease. You know what a cat tease is. If you don’t here is a photograph of one being used by Ken Flick at a cat show. The cat is being photographed by Helmi his wife. You can see Ken’s hands are a mile away from those weapons.

The cat tease
The Cat Tease – Photograph by Michael at PoC
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

Wave that around in front of a kitten. It’ll do the job just fine. Or some string or a homemade cat toy. All are fine and none will cause you to be scratched or bitten by a kitten.

There are other ways to be scratched by a kitten. Damn it there are a gazillion ways but all are due to mishandling the kitten. Any kitten interactions or handling that causes a scratch of bite to the person’s skin can be deemed mishandling in my book.

It is a question of being cautious and observing kitten behaviour. In fact a new cat owner can learn by trail and error very fast. If a certain way of interacting with your kitten results in a cat bite of scratch analyse what went wrong and adjust the next time.

For instance, you pat your gorgeous kitten’s soft and fluffy belly because she went belly up inviting you to do it. She clamps her forepaws around your hand and rakes it with her hind legs and bites your hand at the same time. Lesson learned: don’t pat or pet your kitten’s belly until she is an adult and you have gradually got her accustomed to it (if that is possible). So how do you adjust in this instance? Pet her forehead and shoulders instead and ignore the belly and the hind legs.

It’s all about how to interact with your kitten in a way which pleases her and which avoids scratches and bites. Although young kittens really can’t do much damage.

Sometimes kittens like to climb legs or jump onto the backs of their guardian. This will result in a scratch. They’ll lose the habit in due course so you can accept it with good grace! Some scratches and the occasional bite perhaps through redirected aggression will happen.

A cat owner has to accept some bites and scratches I think because cats have weapons: teeth and claw. And they love to play and playing is hunting and hunting means clamping down on things with teeth and grabbing things with claws. There is always a danger of being got by your cat. It should be accepted as part and parcel of living with a cat or kitten.

Don’t ask Dr Google for answers. Figure it out yourself and minimise the damage and as for the occasional breakage of skin accept it as a small price to pay for the pleasure of living with a cat companion.

P.S. You know there is a big argument for adopting two kittens at the same time provided they get along. If they get on they’ll play with each other. Job done. No scratches etc.. However, the danger as I see it is that they might not get along as they become independent (in their minds) adults. They have to get on throughout their lives otherwise cat ownership becomes tiresome and a bit of a failure.


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