What’s behind a kitten’s constant biting? Can it be stopped?
If you've owned cats before, you've probably experienced 'petting and biting syndrome'. Not heard of it? Picture this, you're nicely stroking your kitty when suddenly, without any warning at all, they turn and nip you. Sound familiar? While it can be alarming, it's a common reaction when cats get nervous, and it's no different for kittens.
So why would your kitten be nervous around you? Think of it this way, for your kitten to sit on your lap or be stroked, they have to be trusting of you, in the same way they would be of their mother when she grooms them. For some kittens, that can be a little overwhelming and they can feel vulnerable once they've relaxed. Their natural reaction is to defend themselves, which can result in a (usually harmless) bite.
To accept stroking, your kitten has to learn it's okay. Choose a quiet moment to calmly pet them – a time when you won't be interrupted or distracted. As soon as you notice any signs of anxiety (perhaps ear twitching or tensing up), stop stroking. Eventually, your kitten will learn that you're trustworthy, which will prevent any unexpected bites in the future. But don't be too disheartened if it won't accept stroking as not all breeds will.
How to introduce a kitten to a cat flap?
Planning to let your kitten outdoors to give their muscles a stretch and get a bit of exercise in? It's a great way to let your kitten explore, but before they can start, you might need to prepare a simple lesson in cat flap 101. Start by propping the flap open and luring your kitten through with a treat. Over the course of a week, gradually close the flap so that your kitten learns to push it open themselves. They should be off adventuring in no time.
Just remember to never force your kitten outside. Some breeds are more likely to go outside than others. For them, it's a whole new world, so it can be scary at first. They'll want to take their own time to get used to the idea, especially if they're still familiarising themselves with your home. Consider rewarding your kitten with a treat when they've gone out, so they learn that it's a positive experience.
Finally, if you're worried about stray or neighbourhood cats coming through your flap, there are advanced cat flaps that react to your kitten's microchip, so only your kitty will be allowed through, and not half the neighbourhood.
Why is playtime good for your kitten’s wellbeing?
Playtime is more than just fun. For a kitten, it's also a learning experience. During your kitten's first 10 weeks, everything around them is brand new. So therefore, it's important for them to get used to their environment. It's called 'socialisation', and the easiest way to do it is through play.
In a litter, kittens will play with their siblings. This helps them learn to communicate and interact with other cats. But when a kitten comes into your home, they'll have to learn about you and your family, too. Playing interactive games, such as fishing-rod-type toys or balls on string, helps your kitten get used to you, which will help strengthen your bond as they grow up.
Play also gives kittens an outlet for all that energy. Without playtime, they can become bored and develop behavioural issues, such as biting or scratching. It’s also a great way to keep them healthy, as it encourages exercise.
So which toys should you buy? You don't have to spend a lot. Kittens love hiding, so find a paper bag for them to explore, or use a cardboard box. They love to pounce, too. Hide a treat in a scrunched-up ball of paper to keep them stimulated. Finally, consider a scratching post. It'll keep your kitten’s claws in shape and will give them a place to climb, too.
If you would like to find out more about different breeds of dogs and cats, including their characteristics, exercise and nutrition essentials, click here
Disclaimer: The content on this page aims to offer useful information but does not constitute veterinary advice. If your dog or cat falls ill or has an injury, contact your vet immediately. The vetfone™ service is provided by Vetsdirect Limited.