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Backlash of being a stray

post #1 of 4
Thread Starter 
We got our kitten Jack 8 weeks ago. Our friends found him sitting on their porch (where there are bowls of cat food and water for the strays they feed). They have 3 cats, 8 rats, a snake, a dog and a horse so they couldn't take on another but couldn't leave the kitten outside.

My husband and I volunteered to give him a home (neither of us has had cats in our lives, just dogs).

The vet estimated him to be 11-13 weeks old. He had fleas and worms when we found him as well as a cold. All were treated and he has been pretty healthy since then, he did have a yeast infection in his ear but that cleared up great and he was neutered about 4 weeks ago.

We are having some behavior issues--he is a biter. He isn't doing it in a mean fashion but he will purposely hunt us and attack, ankles, legs, feet, hands and arms.

We have tried blowing on him, hissing and squirting with the water bottle and all methods have failed. If he jumps on the bed and starts biting I immediately return him to the floor which works for the time being but in a matter of minutes he will return.

I assume that because it appears he was not with his mother at a young age (the friends who gave us to him have not seen any other kittens) he hasn't learned manners. How do we teach him?
post #2 of 4
Unfortunately, it simply takes time.

The first thing you must do is provide him something appropriate on which to bite. A box of bendy straws is PERFECT for this. They're a kind of plastic he can't chew to bits (except after a few days or weeks of use - then throw them out) so he won't eat them - but they love to chew on them. He's too young to be teething (if your vet is right about his age), but the way to handle it is the same.

For further positive direction training, if you don't already have wand toys (interactive toys), definitely get some. Dedicate 15 minutes or so each morning and evening to playing with him. Use up some of that kitten energy.

Remember - positive reinforcement is as important as negative reinforcement. When he's playing appropriately, praise him to high heaven. ...do this when he's playing on his own or when you're playing with him.

Next is to have everyone in the home be consistent about teaching him what is NOT ok to bite - and that is people. If he hunts and bites you, IMMEDIATELY blow that short, sharp puff of air into his face, say "NO," and hand him a bendy straw that is hopefully lying around on the floor near you. If he chews on the straw or plays with it, tell him he's a good boy. If he attacks you again - blow on him again and walk away. He needs to learn that attacking you gets him ignored - unles he redirects that biting to an appropriate item.

If you walk away and he attacks again, put him in the bathroom for a time out (with bendy straws in there) for 3 minutes. No more than 5.

His mother would hiss at him and hit him on the head with her paw - and she'd keep doing it until he stopped attacking her legs or ears.

It is the combination of giving him something appropriate to attack (the straws), blowing on him when he attacks and ignoring him - and giving him positive reinforcement when playing appropriately - that will train him not to bite.

But remember - he is a kitten. Just like with human children, he won't learn overnight. It will take time - a few more days - a few weeks - a month? - but he will learn if you are consistent.

Hope this helps,

post #3 of 4
Thread Starter 
At 4-5 months he is too young to be teething?

The puff of air is ineffective, we've tried it.

Thanks for the ideas

post #4 of 4
Sorry - my math wasn't working. He IS teething!

I know your experience is that the puff of air in his face didn't work - but I'd try it in combination with all of the above. And try blowing harder. The other thing you can do is keep a couple of air cans handy. They usually scare the crap out of cats and kittens. Make sure you blow it AWAY from his face - never point it at the cat as it can freeze his face. But if you blow that short, sharp puff of air in his face WHILE you blow the air can near but not at him, it may work - in combo with the straws.

Good luck,

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