When most people think of kittens, they think about their tiny size, their endearing faces, and their love of play. Kitties are known for their playful and curious nature. As kittens grow, they begin to act on their developing instincts, which is the primary cause of their playfulness. They begin to bite, scratch, bat, and pounce; these actions are all indicative of the cat’s instinct to attack their prey. Though this is normal and most often harmless, cat-scratched legs and arms can sting and be painful.
As a kitten grows, they learn to bite and nibble on their siblings and mother. They become adjusted to their family and such actions are generally deemed acceptable within the cat family. If a kitten is separated from their mother prematurely, they tend to play a little more roughly than kittens that have been raised with their mother for a longer period of time.
Training a kitten to not pounce on your feet as you sit on the couch reading, or to scratch at your hands as you dangle a toy in front of their curious eyes can be done. The best and the simplest thing to do is to redirect your kitten’s aggressive or overly playful attention from human targets (such as feet and hands) to kitty toys. Toys such as plastic or rubber balls with bells inside that they can bat at and pounce on work well, as well as toys such as streamers with bells attached to a wooden rod. Some kittens also like to wrestle. Getting a small stuffed animal that is similar or slightly smaller in size than your kitten is also a good idea. This way, they can harmlessly engage in a fun little game of pouncing and wrestling that does not involve or risk human skin!
Because kittens love to play, it may be a good idea to plan several different playtimes throughout the day, if possible. Encourage your kitty to play with the toys you have given them instead of using human bait. Drag their toys around the floor, and move them as if they are alive. This will catch your kitty’s attention and encourage them to play with their toys.
Though they may love their new toys, your kitten may still need to be taught what not to do. Find ways to discourage your new cat to not play with your hands or feet. A popular technique to keep a few water squirt bottles dispersed throughout your home. Each time they reach up their paws to bat at your hands or pounce on your feet, squirt them with the mist of water. Cats don’t enjoy getting wet, but it is a safe and effective method to get your cat to leave you alone.
Cat’s love to play; it is bred in their natural instincts. However, you want their playful aggression to be targeted toward proper playthings, not the family dog, your children, or your own hands or feet. Get your new kitten toys they will love, and find ways to discourage them from using humans as bait. Good luck!