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New Kitten biting/ scratching issues

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 
Hi...we got a new kitten, Hobbes, on Sunday and he is in his safe room now, away from Calvin, our other kitten. We are following tips that we read on TCS and advice that we received here from members for the introductions. However, in the time that I've spent in the room with Hobbes, a few behavior seems odd to me - mainly because Calvin does not do any such things and Calvin is our first kitty.
So Hobbes kneads a lot.....really a LOT. I guess we should be trimming his nails/ claws regularly to prevent injury. Plus he also nips and Calvin does that too but less often. These are not breaking skin but I am getting some little welts and they hurt. How do I stop that from happening? Calvin responds to ouch and no but this kid is way more insistent and bitey.

Also he seems to be scratching the carpet, even though we got him a scratching pad and it's placed right beside. He seems to be scratching the place right beside/ beneath his food bowl so I do not know if he's trying to bury that. Till he has the run of the house, he's in a carpeted room and being a rental, this does worry me a little. Anything I can do to stop that?

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
post #2 of 14
For biting, try having a wand toy in your other hand and distract him if he bites. Or another thing to try is if he bites, just leave the room. He'll begin to associate biting with no more playtime/attention, so hopefully he'll stop. I got some straws to use as a distraction and as chew toys, that worked with Genever. She bit kind of a lot when we first got her, but she grew out of it, or we trained her well enough, or a combo. Anyway she doesn't bite much now, and if she does, it's not hard. Unless I have to pet her belly, then she bites, but that's my own fault.

For scratching, praise him a lot when he uses the scratching post. I never had a problem with scratching the wrong things, so I'm not sure what to suggest, but I know others on here have lots of good ideas. And yes, definitely start trimming those razor claws!

Good luck!
post #3 of 14
For scratching you could try putting Soft Paws on him. Some cats keep them on, other's pull them right off.
post #4 of 14
Chumley was a VERY bitey cat when he first came home. We dealt with it like we did with kitten teething. We'd blow a short, sharp puff of air directly in his face (that totally startles them) and say "no." We'd explain - you don't bite people (I know, sounds nuts, but we talk to our cats). Then we'd slowly reach out the hand again (try reaching in a fist). If he goes to nip, blow again, say no, and get up and leave him sitting there.

There's three things about this: I assume he's biting when you're petting him? If so, he's being overstimulated - but that means that redirecting to play isn't necessarily the best option. If this is the case, you need to work on finding his limit. Pet a few strokes - give it a pause - pet a few more strokes. Yes, he needs to learn "no" and that biting people is not OK - but it's also best to learn his limits and avoid overstimulating him. But always praise the heck out of him if he shows you other ways. When Chumley switched to just putting his mouth on us but not biting down at all, we praised that. When he went to just move his head like he was going to bite, but didn't even put his mouth on us, he got even more praise. Now when he's nervous, he'll bop us with a paw, no claws. WHAT A GOOD BOY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (That's what we tell him. ).

If he's biting because he wants to play, then redirecting to a toy and praising the heck out of him for playing with the toy is absolutely the right thing to do.

Cats do GREAT with praise for the right stuff. Knowing what's good and right is SO important, and goes a long, long way to altering the behavior.

The only "negative" modifier should be the short, sharp puff of air directly in the face. People don't hiss too well - but that puff of air they definitely understand. But the bottom line with this one is that kitty has to learn that "inappropriate" behavior gets him ignored, not "rewarded" with negative attention.

So - is it play or overstimulation? If play, redirect to toy. If overstimulation, work on finding his limit, and not going beyond it, but don't let him get away with biting. Teach him "no" with the blow/puff, and if he pushes it, he learns he gets ignored for "bad" behavior. And praise the heck out of him for good behavior, he needs to know what's right.

As to the scratching... several of our kitties "bury" their food. But they just paw around it... is it maybe that his claws are so long they're getting caught in the carpet?

Sounds like maybe you should put something down on the floor under his dish... a rubber mat? I know you don't need to spend more money on him, but a welcome mat at Walmart is pretty cheap, and might help save your carpet.

Also, as to the scratching... they generally like to scratch and stretch when they wake up, so placement is important. Whether that's vertical or horizontal is a preference of each cat. And surfaces are also kitty preference. Cardboard is a favorite around here (though they sharpen their claws REALLY quickly on cardboard ) - and we have the slanted one, and horizontal scratchers in cardboard. We've tried vertical sisal posts - but they're just not into them. The do love the vertical sections of the cat trees (carpeted) - but they don't seem to confuse that carpet with the carpet on the floor.

Billy's the only one who scratches on the carpet - and that's because he loves to nap in the hall, and that's where he scratches. We just spent $20 on a recycled rubber door mat - really long (for like a double door or something) - that we're putting down there so he stops destroying the carpet.

You can also sprinkle posts/cardboard scratchers with a little catnip to help attract him to them.

But inappropriate scratching.... really the only way to stop it is a combination of "benefit denial" as I call it, and providing nice alternatives.

As to the food burying... for Tuxedo he was such a nut about it, we took Hissy's advice, and set his bowl down on a handkerchief. That way when he's done, he can scratch the handkerchief up over the bowl and feel like he's accomplished the job.
post #5 of 14
Thread Starter 
Thanks everyone for the great pointers.
He does bite when overstimulated but that's something Calvin does too. This baby does it at other times too. Calvin did it a couple of times at the beginning but stopped. Hobbes will come and then just rub his head on ur hand then then give a little bite and then knead. So perhaps play? Or can it be affection?

As for the scratching, have not seen him scratch anywhere else other than this spot. He has a placement mat on it there's my t- shirt and on it the food bowl. He puts the edge of my tshirt on the bowl to cover it after eating and then there the mat ends and the carpet's there, he scratches that area. I do not think it's a claw issue since the vet tech trimmed it on Monday. I've physically showed him how to scratch (these kitties make us do crazy stuff) on a cardboard scratcher we got for him and it came with a pouch of catnip that we sprinkled. when I catch his scratching, I put him on the post but he does not scratch there. This is a funny guy!
post #6 of 14
So.... if you do something like put a piece of aluminum foil down over that spot... does he just move a little further out then to scratch on the carpet????? Cats can be so silly! If that's the case.... maybe you'll have to invest in a small piece of carpet remnant that he can scratch?

And the biting you describe - is it more like putting his mouth on your hand, or does he bite down? Tuxedo does this - but no biting down, and it is definitely affection. Billy does this, but he gets over-exuberant, and bites down - but it's still affection. With Tuxedo we don't say anything (other than "I love you too!" ). With Billy, I had to puff in his face at first and say "no, we don't bite people." Now we understand each other - he still does it sometimes, but all I have to do is say "Bill...." and he lets go and looks at me with those enormous eyes.......
post #7 of 14
Just a few quick suggestions on scratching. Put catnip on the scratching post, rub it in your fingers first to really get the scent going, and rub it up and down on the scratching post. The scratching post has to be quite tall, and VERY sturdy so it will stay steady while being scratched. If it is not, Hobbes will not like scratching it. Alot of cats like the square cardboard scratchers that lay on the floor. Put catnip in that too. My cats even nap on these thing.

After you put catnip on the tall scratcher, use an interactive wand toy to entice Hobbes to climb the scratching post to get at the toy. This will invariably get him scratching on that post!!! Usually works all the time for me.
post #8 of 14
[/color]Its all normal really, my kitty (smokey) does that alot, most cats have different things they tend to do, some more than others... as for the kneading, that shows the affectionate side of them, its also a comforting sign and a trust sign, its more or less a reflection on when they were really small, they used this motion to stimulate the milk in their mummy's tummy so you shouldnt be worried, make sure you give your cats plenty of things to play with and thigs to claw and scratch, this will stop their nails from over growing/ growin to fast, and keep the occupied... and for introducing a new cat (if im on the right track) make sure they know that you are higher then them, the top rank kind of... that they must listen to you... when that is done bring the cat in whilst carrying he/she sit down and stoke the new cat and make sure they noe the must accept he/she, when the others are calm (when they lay on their side or are steching out) then place the cat on the floor to smell around and get use to her new surroundings...

By the way, if your kittys were to do wrong or about to do wrong, they will not understand you if you shout STOP! remember they dont speak or understand english... they communicate to eachother via emotions and body language... you must show them what to do, then soon, they will catch on, dont give up... and the scratching is essencial.... that is somthing the MUST! do to have healthy claws and less visiits to the vet for nail cuts [/color]
post #9 of 14
Thread Starter 
Thanks everyone for the advice. I do not have a tall vertical scratcher in Hobbes's room but a pretty large cardboard one on the floor. We have a big cat tree and I am hoping that Calvin will be willing to share that with him. He, so far, is not scratching anywhere else other than the carpet in front of the food bowl mat. I think if I put foil, he'll just move beyond. I do have a couple of carpet remnants in the basement - that's a great idea, I had forgotten about it and can bring it upstairs. Also we put catnip on the scratching cardboard thing and nothing yet. Will keep at it. I am ok with the kneading but his affectionate biting does hurt. He is sinking is teeth. I will try the No and puff of air and see how those work. I don't know why I whisper with him when I am in the room and am afraid to talk to him much since I know Calvin can here it and I do not want to make Calvin more nervous or insecure.
post #10 of 14
Originally Posted by LDG View Post
As to the food burying... for Tuxedo he was such a nut about it, we took Hissy's advice, and set his bowl down on a handkerchief. That way when he's done, he can scratch the handkerchief up over the bowl and feel like he's accomplished the job.
That is a great idea, putting something under the food bowl! Genever goes NUTS burying her food, not all the time, but definitely more often than not. I wonder if a cloth would make her feel like she got it covered... She also unburies her food sometimes though, so... ah, I don't know.

By the way, great advice overall, I forgot all the stuff you posted. Well, I didn't forget it, but forgot it while typing my post. I do the puff of air with Genever if she bites. And she also does the mouth on the hand thing instead of biting most times, or she'll grab my hand (or BF's) like she's going to bite, but she'll lick instead. She gets lots of praise for that.

I think with a bit of work and lots of consistency, Hobbes will turn out ok. He's a baby, and he's still learning.
post #11 of 14
Originally Posted by DarkMavis View Post
She also unburies her food sometimes though, so... ah, I don't know.
Shelly unburies the water!

Silly kitties!
post #12 of 14
Happygolucky and Muffin(muffy) say hello. He is my new furr baby and speaking for myself, my life seems better now. I have had him for 1 week, and yesterday was the 1st day I was separated from him. This set us back to day 1. He slept on a chair near me and stared at me for hours. This morning he ran all over and put his back up like a Halloween cat in a picture. He also kept scratching the floor by his water and food and turned his dry food over altogether so of course I put wet food out and he seemed happy but scratched the floor. I am not sure how old he is, but will find out more this coming
weekend. Since I am his at least second owner, I feel if I don't humanize him and just turn him in, he might be put down. Without giving explicit details, he is now asleep on the kitchen table. I guess expecting hugs and kisses is expecting too much at this early stage. I forgot to mention he is teething and I am hoping this biting, scratching, hissing, growling will just stop one day and he will be the lovable pet I want. I never met a growling kitten before, but the previous person had him locked in a bathroom avoiding a dog problem. You realize she gladly handed over muffin to a new owner. Thanks everyone for lending an ear.
post #13 of 14
My cat felix does the same
post #14 of 14

As for the scratching around the food bowl, it's instinctual. They need to bury their food. We have a big latex place mat under the feedng bowl which our cats scratch instead.


If your kitten is under six months old, forget catnip it doesn't work on young kittens.  

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