Wondering how to stop a kitten from biting? How to train a kitten not to bite you? AND – more importantly – if it’s even possible?!
After all, we’ve all been there when you’re playing nicely with your kitten and your gentle little ball of fluff suddenly turns into a FRENZIED MONSTER! (Bite, bite, bite!)
But why do they do it? And what’s the key to getting a kitten to stop biting? Well my friends, fear not as in this post, we’ll break it all down, with out guide to training a kitten not to bite.
Why Does My Kitten Keep Biting Me?
So first up, before we look at how to train a kitten not to bite, let’s get to the bottom of why your kitten keeps biting you in the first place. I mean, it’s not like they’re doing protection dog training and are trying to defend you!
Instead… it feels like they’re attacking you! But are they? Well, it’s kind of a yes or no.
See, it’s instinct, it’s biological wired and it’s part of their DNA. Cats are hunters who will naturally practice their attack on literally any moving object…even if it is your hand. (Ouch!)
So, in many cases if your kitten keeps biting you, the simple answer… They just can’t help it!
For kittens, biting and ‘bunny-kicking’ are part of their play behaviours they learn from their mother and siblings. They will chase, pounce and grab each other and it’s all practice for the real thing of hunting and catching prey.
The thing is, if you’re looking at how to train a kitten not to bite, you’re doing so from the right age – as the younger you teach them not to bite YOU (and instead, bite other things instead!), the easier it is.
When Do Kittens Stop Biting?
Now I know what you’re thinking… “when will my kitten calm down and stop biting?!”
See, the good news is – most kittens naturally bite less, the older they get. After all, they will have finished teething by the age of 6 months old and will start to settle down as they mature, towards the ages of 1 and 2.
However, if you don’t train a kitten to stop biting (or should we say – train a kitten to stop biting YOU), they’re likely to continue it even when they’re a cat, as they’ll still think it’s okay.
Like we said, cats can continue to bite during play because they’re expressing their natural hunting instincts. It’s a life long thing and it comes natural to them.
They’re not trying to hurt you as such, but the hunter in them takes over and they don’t know where to draw the line. They’re allowed to bite their toys and – unless they realise it hurts you and it’s not okay – they think they’re allowed to bite you too.
So, as we said, the key is to teach them how to play nicely with you, so that they don’t bite you. (Which is then a win, win, for everyone!)
How To Train a Kitten Not To Bite You (The Process)
So, what do you do?! How do you train a kitten not to bite you?!
Well, in their early weeks and months, your kitten will be highly influenced by their mother and siblings in their litter and will have adopted a number of behaviours. Training a kitten not to bite can therefore be hard.
But when they arrive at your home – it’s up to you to reinforce the positive behaviours they exhibit and minimise any negative actions.
To do this, you want to try to learn and understand what is triggering your kitten’s aggression. That way, you can then work out how to diffuse and stop it.
In most cases, your kitten is usually biting due to overstimulation, annoyance, play, or to try to signal an injury. But what has caused this behaviour? Well, try to follow this process:
- Observe the situation.
- Conclude the most likely cause.
- Try different solutions until you find one that works.
These are the simple, yet essential steps when it comes to how to get your kitten to stop biting.
After all, if they’re biting you for different reasons, finding a way to STOP them biting in that particular situation, may differ from situation to situation. There’s not a “one solution fits all” when it comes to training a kitten not to bite.
How To Train a Kitten Not To Bite You (Examples)
The easiest way to demonstrate this, is to build on how to train a kitten not to bite you, by breaking down some common situations, using our simple three step process and giving you some example solutions to help to get you thinking of your own.
Remember – to train a kitten not to bite, you have to identify the reason and find a solution. I.E. Something you will do instead, in order to stop your kitten from biting. So for instance…
Situation 1: Kitten Biting During Play
So let’s start with the common one – when your kitten starts biting you during play. Let’s say you’re playing gently with your kitten and he / she becomes over excited.
NOTICE: By watching your kittens body language, you can better interpret how they’re feeling to ultimately conclude why your kitten is biting you!
See, you might be able to pick out that your kitten’s tail begins to lash backwards and forwards, his / her pupils dilate and their ears become flat against her head. This means that your kitten is preparing to pounce.
How To Stop Your Kitten From Biting:
In this situation, if you want to stop your kitten from biting, you act AT THIS POINT, when you recognise the signs that they’re likely to bite (before it’s too late!) So you might want to:
- Move your hands out of reach. (As opposed to not picking up on the cues!)
- Distracting your kitten with a different toy so that they pounce on that, rather than your hands.
- Using a longer toy, that is not within reach of your hands. Like a fishing rod toy for example. These are one of the top toys kittens love and they help to keep your body parts safely in tact! 😉
Over excitement can also cause hissing and if this happens, stop play altogether and calm things right down.
You need to be able to recognise the signs of worry or distress in your kitten. If they appear to be worried, you should try to remove the trigger and give your kitten space, otherwise they’re likely to bite out of fear and as a defence mechanism. (Which is not what you want to put them through at all!)
Situation 2: Kitten Biting During Brushing
Here’s another common situation that leads to your kitten biting and attacking you – when you’re trying to brush them. See, grooming is essential, but they’re not always going to love it!
Let’s say you touch your kitten’s tummy (whether to stroke or brush him / her) and they suddenly grab your hand in her claws and bites or bunny kick you!
This is because the tummy is a very sensitive part of her body and if in the wild and was attacked in this area, your kitten would be vulnerable to a lot of damage. So it’s an automatic response…
How To Stop Your Kitten From Biting:
In this situation, if you want to stop your kitten from biting, only brush your kitten when they’re sleepy or relaxed.
Always brush slowly and speak gently and do not touch the tummy area until your kitten is used to it.
Some cats will actually grow to love being groomed and will purposely roll onto their backs so you can specifically stroke/brush their tummies and chest area.
But to begin with – ease them into it gently. Start with the “safer” areas when brushing and reward them with treats as you’re doing it (when they’re not reacting) so they can associate it as a positive experience and know that they have nothing to worry about.
Situation 3: An Unprovoked Attack!
Now it may also be that your kitten hides, stalks and pounces on you, even as you’re simply walking past.
Just remember – although they may seem aggressive, in most cases, they’re simply tapping into that natural hunter inside them and practicing their skills. They’re being active and playful (like most kittens are!)
How To Stop Your Kitten From Attacking You:
The best way to stop a kitten from attacking you (and biting away in the process) is to make sure they have plenty of toys to keep them stimulated. That way, they can attack their TOYS and not YOU!
If you find that they are attacking you, it may be that their toys aren’t keeping them occupied enough. Or you may need to rotate their toys so that they have different ones every few days, and remain engaged with them.
It doesn’t have to be for hours on end. Little and often does the trick. That way, you end up tiring them out AND bonding with them in the process, which in turn, also makes them less likely to attack as they realise you’re a “friend, not food!” (As good old, Finding Nemo once said!)
If you have leave your kitten alone for long hours at a time, without any opportunities for play, it will probably mean that they are bursting with energy when you do get home.
As a result, they’re likely to want to play roughly to get rid of all that excess energy and pent up frustration.
This can sometimes lead to frustrated biting. It doesn’t mean your kitten is aggressive, it just means he / she has missed you and doesn’t know how to direct all of this energy!
Young kittens develop especially quickly; both physically and mentally. They crave a strong bond with their owners. You are their new family, after all…
So it’s important you’re fully present when spending time with them to reduce the behavioural issues that could come as a result of the loneliness or anxiety.
Also note: Kittens under 4 months should NEVER be left longer than 4 hours. Once they are 6 months, they can handle 8 hours but it is important to give them plenty of love and attention when you get home.
Why Does My Kitten Keep Biting Me?
The process of: observing the situation, conclude the most likely cause and trying different solutions until you find one that works, is the key to helping you stop a kitten from biting.
But what do you do if you find that – no matter what you try – it seems like your kitten STILL keeps biting you?! Nothing is working?! Well, try to break it down further…
- Have you recently brought your kitten home and they’re struggling to settle?
- Or have you now moved home with them, and they’re struggling to readjust?
- Have you not built a strong enough bond with your kitten and need to give them a little more TLC?
- Are you not keeping them stimulated enough, exercising them enough, or giving them everything they need if they’re being kept indoors?
See, kittens aren’t just “born bad.” They’re not biting you because they’re being nasty, as we’ve established. So put the time in, put the effort in, and work out why they’re doing it to determine what can be done.
If all else fails and you’re finding that your kitten is containing to bite you, no matter what you do – then speak to your vets.
Cats who are in pain often show uncharacteristic aggression. Even cats/kittens that are normally really friendly and loving may hiss, growl or bite if they are touched or moved in a painful area that hurts them.
It could be an early indicator that they are ill and need some help. So don’t hesitate to give your vets a call.
How WE Train Our Kitten Not To Bite
Now, we have a final little family trick which stops kittens (and cats!) from biting, and this is – to “cry” when they do it and say a very hurt “ouch.”
This cry out not only interrupts the biting, it makes them realise they have hurt you.
See, kittens are smart little things and don’t want to inflict pain on their human. (Especially if you have a Maine Coon like we do, as one of the best things about Maine Coon’s is they attach themselves to you and become like your best friend! So that’s the last thing they’d want to do!)
Studies on cats have also shown that they are, indeed, sensitive to human emotional signals. In fact, when they pick up on your emotions, this can result in subtle changes of cat behavior in accordance with these emotional expressions.
Professional Veterinarian, Dr. Wooten has also confirmed that: “Cats can definitely sense when you are sad because they are highly attuned to your normal behaviours and moods, and if there is a change, they sense it.” Which makes sense right?
So this is a simple (yet proven to be very effective!) technique for how to train a kitten not to bite…
As soon as they bite you, say “ouch”, with a hurt expression on your face, then pretend to cry until they look up and release their grip. From this, you’re likely to find that they stop and lick you. If they don’t however – simply move away and stop playing with them, which signals that they have gone too far and acts as a “punishment” for them no longer playing nicely.
This leads me onto my final note…
The WRONG Way To Get a Kitten To Stop Biting
Whatever you do – never ever physically punish your kitten for biting or playing rough.
If you physically punish your kitten (when they’re simply doing something they think is natural and okay), not only can it inflict pain but it will also damage the relationship you have with him / her.
You may also find that your kitten becomes truly aggressive during play, as they feel like they need to defend themselves. And you’re likely to find that you lose your kittens trust so they end up starting to avoid you altogether, which is certainly not what you want.
So I know it can be a little painful when your kitten bites you, but take a deep breath, don’t react in the moment, and instead, follow the simple steps to train your kitten not to bite, in all kinds of different situations.
That’s All For This One
So, there we have it! That rounds up, how to train a kitten not to bite, and how to get a kitten to stop biting, based on the different situations that you find they usually do it in.
Remember – you got your new furry friend for a reason! Any time you spend with your kitten is precious. They grow up so quickly and it is our responsibility as owners to look after and bring them up to be loving members of the family.
It is crucial to play and engage with them in order for them to feel happy, they just need to be given a little direction on what is and isn’t acceptable when it comes to playtimes to stop them biting and keep them playing nicely. Happy days! 😻
Whether you’re teaching your kitten not to bite, training them to stop jumping on counters, or showing them how to use a litter box – be patient, be understanding and stick with it. As when you do this – you’ll always get there!
Good luck. And take care!