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how to discipline a kitten..

post #1 of 43
Thread Starter 
So, I am faced with this huge problem right now. My kitten Jake is 7 weeks old. His biting problem at first was not big at all, he only nibbled. Now, as soon as he sees my hands he jumps at them and holds them with his claws and chews on them. The same thing with my feet.....It's starting to hurt really badly. Also, it's really strange for me but he likes to give my hands a bath. If I just leave my hand out he will take it between his claws and lick my entire hand for a really long time. I've never had a cat do that, and it feels really weird because his tongue is not smooth, it's very uncomfortable. Well, my boyfriend keeps telling me that I should yell at him and say "NO" very loudly and I don't know what else he had a lot of suggestions, but all had to do with punishment...but to me it seems like Jake is too young and not smart enough to understand that I am yelling at him because he is hurting me and needs to calm down. He will think that I'm just evil and enjoy making him miserable for no reason. What is something that I can do that will teach him not to bite and scratch human skin, without actually hurting him in any way?
post #2 of 43
for the 5 i've raised from kittenhood, this is the correction method i've had the best results with: when kitty bites your fingers, say 'no' in a stern voice & tap [gently but firmly] on the bridge of the nose. i like using 'no' because then i can use it for other things... but you can also yelp or hiss.
of my current 5, the only biter i have is my adult adoptee [who came already declawed, as well].

for the clawing, clip them - it helps a lot.
post #3 of 43
Tempering their play is something they learn to do from other kittens. Other kittens will yelp and pull away from them, so if they want to keep playing, they have to be gentler. I've heard that if they didn't learn this from their siblings, you can "teach" them by withdrawing from play when they go too far, possibly by the technique mentioned above.

This is what I do with one of my cats who tends to get carried away: (He's ten so I don't think he's ever figured out the tempering part.) I just withdraw and if necessary, put a pillow or a coat or something between me and him. After a few seconds, he usually just walks away and calms down.

Punishing cats is a bad idea and DOESN'T WORK. Their brains are not physically made to absorb "no" training - it's not their fault, they're not being stubborn. They don't have a sufficient region of the brain that handles that stuff. So to punish them would be like a big bird who owned us punishing us for not flying -- we just can't, we just don't have the physical capacity (wings).

And yes to the regular clippings! At his age, it shouldn't be hard to make it a weekly routine with him.
post #4 of 43
This is why kittens should stay with their mothers until they are 10-12 weeks old, mommy teaches them not to do this. So, think of it this way - you must now replace mommy.

You can look into Bitter Apple spray as a deterrent- apply it to your hands/feet so they taste bad when he nips you.

Yelling serves no purpose but scaring the kitten. I've made an occaisonal "pst" hiss type noise as my "no" for my cats - not loudly, but enough to make them understand. I picked this up from Twitch, who uses the same noise to yell at her "subjects" (the other cats).
post #5 of 43
No please dont hit a kitten or a cat on the bridge of their nose, even gently.

You are correct in that your little kitten is practically a newborn. In a perfect world, his mother would teach him his boundaries of when biting is too hard, when claws are not retracted, when play is too rough.

A Mom cat generally will pat her kitten, hiss at her kitten and sometimes bunny kick to teach him. Kittens with other kittens teach other through play and they will scream when the play has become too rough.

You are now his surrogate Mom and you are going to have to teach him. First understand that he is a baby and its going to take patience.

When he starts to exhibit rough behavior, tell him No (not yelling, just a quiet firm No) and remove him from the situation. Be consistent doing it each and every time.
And understand many times he will look at you and do exactly the same thing all over again.

Again, very gently remove him from the situation. For instance, when he is biting your hand, tell him, "No", set him aside, ignore him. Continue to ignore him when he comes running back to you if hes rough again. Keep doing this every day. I promise you, he will get it.

Some people say they hiss at their cats, I personally have never done that, so I cannot say if that works or not.
Physical punishment is never ever good with a kitten or a cat. They just dont respond positively to negative behaviors.
post #6 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pami View Post
No please dont hit a kitten or a cat on the bridge of their nose, even gently.
not hitting - tapping. replaces mom's pat.
post #7 of 43
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pami View Post
Be consistent doing it each and every time.
And understand many times he will look at you and do exactly the same thing all over again.
LOL so far this has happened a lot- I tried hissing at him because someone suggested it to me. He seems to really get the idea, as soon as I hiss his ears get that airplane look and he goes away in some corner and starts grooming himself and ignoring me lol- just like a child who has been bad...
But then as soon as I start walking, he thinks i'm playing with him again and it looks like he has not learned anything!! I see now that the consistency must be the clue ..I kept thinking that since he got the idea once he should know, I guess it takes a lot more than once..
post #8 of 43
I can imagine the little baby doing that

Yes, cats are clever, they really are, they can learn, but consistency is definitely the key, without a doubt. Understand that it may take weeks, but it certainly can be done.

Its also a time during this developmental stage to really become really close with your little baby. So dealing with him gently, yet consistenly, will really build a strong bond and your kitty will completely trust you, which is a wonderful trait to have in a cat
post #9 of 43
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by laureen227 View Post


for the clawing, clip them - it helps a lot.
Soft paws should be arriving soon- are they any good?
I clipped his claws once already but I am too scared so I only clipped the very very end and it didn't seem to do that much good..
post #10 of 43
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pami View Post
Its also a time during this developmental stage to really become really close with your little baby. So dealing with him gently, yet consistenly, will really build a strong bond and your kitty will completely trust you, which is a wonderful trait to have in a cat
That's something I definitely look forward to!
post #11 of 43
He may be small enough yet that the soft paws won't fit. I love them though - they work wonders!
post #12 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by white cat lover View Post
He may be small enough yet that the soft paws won't fit. I love them though - they work wonders!
clip 1st before applying - i usually have already clipped, then apply the soft claws/paws another time. i have them all laid out, & have glue in 1/2 of them.
post #13 of 43
Is that him next your name? OMG that little baby is sooooo adorable!!!

I agree with Natalie, hes too tiny for soft paws right now. Keep trimming just the very tip of his nails. When they are that small, I know they can feel like needles

Also I read your profile for your kitty and saw that he likes fish. Its better from now that you try to avoid fish, it has been known to cause urinary tract infections in kitties, so its better from a baby to start him on something else, other than fish
post #14 of 43
You might want to consider getting your little kitteh a playmate. It is just amazing how much they like to roughhouse when they are little.

Your hand is a substitute playmate for the kitten. I've had pretty good luck with a very consistent "no biting" and stopping play. However, you should get a kitty fishing pole or a laser toy so the little guy can run off some serious steam.
post #15 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by hwc View Post
You might want to consider getting your little kitteh a playmate. It is just amazing how much they like to roughhouse when they are little.

Your hand is a substitute playmate for the kitten. I've had pretty good luck with a very consistent "no biting" and stopping play. However, you should get a kitty fishing pole or a laser toy so the little guy can run off some serious steam.
That is such a great idea and they will teach other the boundaries.
post #16 of 43
I was also always told that you should wait to get kittens until they are 10-12 weeks old, so they learn the potty skills, and how much is too much in the play category. I supposedly got Milo when he was 11 weeks old. To me he looked like he was MAYBE only 6-8 weeks old. He was TINY, but had great litter box skills, and has yet to have a single accident, even in his cat carrier overnight. He is HORRIBLE in regards to the biting and rough housing, though. He always wants to do what the OP's kitten does. I have just been telling him a stern no and patting him on the nose. It has helped some, but he keeps forgetting. I think it has helped some that he has Nora to play with who is still a kitten herself.

The first thing I did when I brought him home was clip his nails because he kept wanting to grab my hand and chew on it, and boy were his nails sharp!!
post #17 of 43
Thread Starter 
Ok, so I will keep trimming for now, but thanks laureen I will definitely remember in a few weeks when he gets old enough for me to put on the soft paws!!


Quote:
Originally Posted by Pami View Post
Is that him next your name? OMG that little baby is sooooo adorable!!!

I agree with Natalie, hes too tiny for soft paws right now. Keep trimming just the very tip of his nails. When they are that small, I know they can feel like needles

Also I read your profile for your kitty and saw that he likes fish. Its better from now that you try to avoid fish, it has been known to cause urinary tract infections in kitties, so its better from a baby to start him on something else, other than fish
Yes that is Jake on my profile pic! I will remember not to feed him fish..I personally do not prefer to feed him fish flavored canned food because it's just soo smelly!! But the thing is- I am always so worried that my baby is too skinny!! When I feel him something that is flavored with fish he jumps at it eating, but when I give him turkey or something else he doesn't seem to be that excited..but he will have to settle for it.. It freaks me out that when i pet him I can clearly feel his upper shoulder muscles..I have no idea how much he weighs but currently he eats a little over a can per day of canned food, the smallest kind of cans. I hope that is normal...I might start giving him some kitten formula in bowls just to supplement...
It's too unfortunate that I cannot get him a playmate!! I am already in trouble with the household for taking Jake! I wish lol I already had that in mind but I got denied from my parents- I'm a college student but I still live at home..
post #18 of 43
when i rescued Firefox, she weighed less than a pound [approximately 4-5 weeks of age] & i supplemented her canned food w/kitten formula. i added some to the wet food, plus fed it solo in between meals [had to feed her in the bathroom, 'cause the greedy adults would've scarfed it down ] took her a few months to get there, but she made it. she's still the smallest of the adults, i suspect due to her rough start.
post #19 of 43
Thread Starter 
Aww Firefox is gorgeous on the pic you have of her! She doesn't look skinny at all and looks so content lol...
I guess I will do that for Jake..It couldn't hurt ..I just tried to weigh him but I don't have an electronic scale so I used a regular human scale and he was about a pound...Isn't that too small for a 7 week old kitten? Then again, it's such a huge approximation with that scale..
post #20 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by ut0pia View Post
Aww Firefox is gorgeous on the pic you have of her! She doesn't look skinny at all and looks so content lol...
but this is her, 1st night inside...

post #21 of 43
Thread Starter 
OMG!!Poor thing, she looked so sick ....It's so amazing that you were able to get her back to normal health...you must have worked really hard to take amazing care of her..
post #22 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by ut0pia View Post
OMG!!Poor thing, she looked so sick ....It's so amazing that you were able to get her back to normal health...you must have worked really hard to take amazing care of her..
she is, to date, my most expensive cat - all vet care.
post #23 of 43
Some things that helped when mine were kittens:

Never use your hand for play. Wear one of those long finger play gloves, use a small stuffed animal, or stuff a sock with old socks and tie the end (they can bunny-kick this). Only use your hand to pet when he is calm. If he starts to play, take your hand away and replace it with those mentioned. The plastic bendable straws are excellent to give when he starts to play. Great to get through the teething time also. Just keep them everywhere.

If he starts to bite or scratch, blow a sharp puff of air in his direction. Then give him the appropriate toy, straw, sock, etc.

For chasing and biting your ankles, tie a shoe string or any type string to your ankle. When you walk or move he will go for the string and not your feet.

Use pole type interactive toys. Good to get in the habit of this now. Helps to satisfy that hunting instinct by chasing the dangling thing from the end of the pole. I made mine from a stick or dowel with a leather shoe lace tied to the end. Hours of fun.

It is a good idea to have him on a kitten food or an "all life stage" food. Using a kitten replacement formula as an addition or treat is good also. I had the best luck with the brand 'Just Born'. Can be found at Walmart. It was easier on their digestive system.

You are off to a great start. He will bless your life in many ways. Congrats!
post #24 of 43
I saw an ad for kittens in the classifieds and called up merely to enquire about them, but the guy seemed really urgent to get rid of them and when I met up with him he was SO dodgy I couldn't bear to think what he'd do with my kitten if I didn't take her - so I did, with him telling me she was 6 weeks old, but she was actually 4.

So she had hardly learnt anything, I had to completely toilet train her...and she had no idea how much playing was too much and when to back off. Especially when I was on my bed, she'd get really rough and bite so hard when I was in bed, it was ok at first but then she started attacking places like the inside of my arm just above my elbow which was so painful!

The way I helped calm her down was I'd yelp "No" and then put all my body parts under the blanket so she couldn't reach me, and then after a while I'd just say "no". If she didn't stop I'd go back under the blanket...soon she learnt that if she didn't stop the first time I'd say "no", there'd be no more playing - and meowing wouldn't work because I would be right there, just she couldn't get to me.

She's calmed down a lot now, and will actually go to sleep on the bed now instead of just wanting to constantly play.

So I definately think showing them that if they don't stop when you say certain words then they don't get to play helps.
post #25 of 43
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Skimble View Post

It is a good idea to have him on a kitten food or an "all life stage" food. Using a kitten replacement formula as an addition or treat is good also. I had the best luck with the brand 'Just Born'. Can be found at Walmart. It was easier on their digestive system.
The food I give him now is a kitten canned food, but it's flavored with fish although I think most of it is made of liver...
I bought a lot of it but unfortunately I will have to save it for later when he gets a bit older...I also got him purina kitten chow which is dry food, and I think he can't chew that too well yet lol
For now I will get him chicken flavored canned food and just make some kitten formula myself because my pet store only has KMR which is like $15 for like 10 oz..
post #26 of 43
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by lunalover View Post
I saw an ad for kittens in the classifieds and called up merely to enquire about them, but the guy seemed really urgent to get rid of them and when I met up with him he was SO dodgy I couldn't bear to think what he'd do with my kitten if I didn't take her - so I did, with him telling me she was 6 weeks old, but she was actually 4.

So she had hardly learnt anything, I had to completely toilet train her...and she had no idea how much playing was too much and when to back off. Especially when I was on my bed, she'd get really rough and bite so hard when I was in bed, it was ok at first but then she started attacking places like the inside of my arm just above my elbow which was so painful!

The way I helped calm her down was I'd yelp "No" and then put all my body parts under the blanket so she couldn't reach me, and then after a while I'd just say "no". If she didn't stop I'd go back under the blanket...soon she learnt that if she didn't stop the first time I'd say "no", there'd be no more playing - and meowing wouldn't work because I would be right there, just she couldn't get to me.

She's calmed down a lot now, and will actually go to sleep on the bed now instead of just wanting to constantly play.

So I definately think showing them that if they don't stop when you say certain words then they don't get to play helps.
I got Jake through a similar way, I'm pretty sure he was about four and a half weeks when I first got him, but I was told he was old enough ..He was really really good w/ litterbox skills though and within two days he was eating solid food..He is getting better today he didn't go crazy on my hands at all!! I realized he only does this when I keep him confined to one room- today I let him run all over the house and he barely came attacking me and I kept him busy with other toys...but now that I am in bed about to read he is jumping on me again and he even attacks my face!!! That kind of scares me because I don't want him hurting my face..he really wants to bite my hair though...
post #27 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by ut0pia View Post
...but now that I am in bed about to read he is jumping on me again and he even attacks my face!!! That kind of scares me because I don't want him hurting my face..he really wants to bite my hair though...

Well, it is every kitten's sworn duty to interrupt whatever humans are trying to do.
post #28 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by ut0pia View Post
he really wants to bite my hair though...
oh luna does that to me too! i was a bit freaked out about it at first so when we were at the vets i showed him and asked him if it was normal - she paws/kneads my hair and starts sucking and softly chewing on it.

the vet said it was a displacement thing because her mum isn't around to suckle on. she also does it to microfibre towels. i was also told it's bad to punish the kitten for it, so i just try to bear it! it's usually an indicator she's about to go to sleep too. she eventually nestles in my neck and goes to sleep...
but sometimes i can't help but squirm around and giggle because she paws too far in and starts tickling my neck
post #29 of 43
Sorry to hijack the thread, but...

Is it normal for a kitten to not seek out human interaction or get skiddish of being petted, after being scolded multiple times for biting and scratching my hands? I just tell him a soft but stern NO and then put him on the floor and stop playing with him.

When we first got Milo he would seek us out and climb up on the sofa to sit in our laps or want to be played with and petted all the time. Now he doesn't do that anymore, and if we pick him up to pet him he jumps off right away and runs away from us. He doesn't seem to want anything to do with us anymore.

Also, now he flinches when I go to pet him and seems skiddish. He also never purrs anymore, which he used to purr any time we picked him up or he got near us.

We've had him for just about two weeks. Is it normal for him to regress like this??
post #30 of 43
Well it certainly depends on how harsh you were with him.
Deal with him like he is a new kitty, sitting in a room, talking to him very softly. Dont go to him, let him come to you, but you can gently coerce him. Its reallyimportant that you not yell at him, it can really change their relationship with you.
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