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5 Ways to Cut Down on Kitten Biting

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When you have a new kitten in the family, everyone wants to have a turn playing with the youngster. But it's all fun and games until your kitten bites someone. Dr. Tony Buffington explains that kitten biting is a normal part of their development. "They’re trying to learn how and when to use their mouths and feet, both to hunt and to protect themselves," he says. The good news is that, with a simple game plan, you can curb your kitten's biting tendencies. 

Here are 5 ways to cut down on kitten biting.

1) Don't use your hands as toys.

Cat behaviour expert Pam Johnson-Bennett explains, “This method teaches the cat that biting flesh is acceptable. Even if the bites and scratches don’t hurt you now, they may as the kitten grows.” No matter how strong the temptation, avoid wiggling your fingers in front of your kitten for playtime. 

2) Offer an appropriate toy.

Each cat has its own preferences for cat toys. Certain cats enjoy laser pointers, while others get very excited over a simple wand toy. You can even purchase wind-up mouse toys, flying bird toys, and squeaky toys for your cat. Try offering your cat a few different options to see what she likes best. When she goes into attack mode, get out her toys for an appropriate outlet for her energy.

3) Schedule regular playtimes.

Perhaps your kitten is simply bored, and biting has been her most effective way to gain your attention. To avoid this pitfall, schedule 15 minutes of interactive play at least once a day. Pam Johnson-Bennett recommends, "The safest and most effective way for you to play with your cat is by using a wand-type toy. This puts a safe distance between your fingers and the cat’s teeth or claws."

Playing together will develop a bond with your kitten, provide an outlet for its excess energy, and keep your kitten happy.

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4) Pretend you're a kitten sibling.

If your kitten is growing up apart from his siblings, he will likely show play aggression, including biting. According to the Cornell Feline Health Centre, "Learning appropriate play is an important part of a cat’s socialization, and this normally occurs during time spent with littermates. Cats learn that they are biting or scratching too hard when their littermates stop playing or retaliate. Cats raised alone during their early lives may not learn this important lesson."

To help your kitten stop biting, you can pretend to be one of his annoyed siblings when he does bite you. Just say, "Eeek!" in a sharp voice, or hiss at him. This will help him understand that biting hurts you.

5) Reward good behaviour.

To train your cat in good habits, don't forget to reward his or her good behaviour. A few kitty treats, a belly scratch, or extra playtime can all communicate, "Well done! I'm so proud of you!" As a cat parent, you need to balance both negative and positive reinforcement to build a healthy relationship.

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