So you’ve reached the “how to stop my kitten from attacking me?” phase of Cat Ownership! At this stage, your kitten is probably an adorable, energetic ball of cuddles and destruction. And while you enjoy every minute of it, you may also wonder how you can curb their more painful and surprising habits: like testing out their surprise attack skills on your feet.
While this active phase is temporary, it is still an important time to teach your cat how to behave around humans before they fully grow into those claws and teeth! In this article, we’ll cover some tips that will help to redirect your kitten’s natural hunting instincts so they can stay healthy and you can stay sane!
#1: Playtime, playtime, playtime
It may seem counterintuitive, but if you want to get your kitten to stop hunting you, you have to get them to hunt something else. After all, cats are natural-born hunters. You can’t train them not to be. And during this essential life stage, your kitten is learning how to hone those hunting skills.
Regular playtime, which should include several short, highly-active sessions throughout the day, will satisfy your kitten’s need to practice hunting. And, it will allow them to release some of that pent up energy that they might otherwise unleash on you.
The key here is to use play that replicates hunting in the wild. Instead of dangling a shiny toy in front of their nose, why not try imitating the movements of a bird, mouse or lizard? Not only will your cat be more engaged by a toy that hides, flies and dodges, but this type of play will also encourage them to rely on their natural hunting tactics.
#2: Shower your kitten with cat toys
One common mistake that Kitten Owners make is to use their hands or feet to play instead of relying on more appropriate toys. This can set your cat up for confusion because they’ll continue to see your hand as a toy when you try to groom them or give them a loving pat on the head.
Instead, make playtime safer by investing in some real cat toys. The best ones will create space between you and your on-the-hunt cat so that there are no accidents. Fishing pole toys or small toys that can be thrown for your cat to chase after are two good examples of appropriate cat toys.
#3: Set up a consistent schedule
Like most mammals, cats go through cycles of activity and rest throughout the day. And, if you can give them a consistent schedule, you’ll be able to predict when they’re most active and playful. This will allow you to schedule their playtimes when they’re most energetic while also phasing out surprise attacks.
Here’s an example. Say that your playful kitty always interrupts your midmorning video calls with a staged attack. You may be able to avoid the painful and perhaps embarrassing interruption by playing with your cat directly before the meeting. If the play session was a success, you kitten may just curl up and snooze through your presentation.
Consistency is important, here. You want your cat to play at around the same time every day. If you’re not going to be home to provide your kitten with this essential playtime, you might consider having a friendly Pet Sitter come over to help out.
#4: Know how to say “no”
Our few first steps—playtime and consistency—are great ways to channel your kitten’s energy away from you. But, if your cat has already developed a habit of attacking you, you’ll also need to teach them to stop.
The good thing is, at this age, kittens are open to learning. A firm reprimand of “no” when your cat pounces should be enough to stop them in their tracks. You can then guide them to a more appropriate target, like their favourite toy.
Another way to say no to unwanted play is to remove yourself from the room. Your cat will find other outlets for play and learn that attacking you doesn’t give them the outcome they want.
It’s crucial, here, not to be too harsh or intimidating with your reprimands. If your cat becomes fearful around you, they may start attacking out of defensiveness rather than play.
#5: Reward good behavior
Like dogs, cats should always be rewarded for good behavior.
If you walk in the room and your kitten doesn’t attack you, for instance, you might give them some verbal praise or a treat. Other rewards could include chin scratches or a special toy, depending on what your kitten responds to most positively.
Not only does this practice teach your kitten that their good actions can lead to rewards, but it also positions you as a giver of treats rather than a target.
#6: Give your kitten their own room at night
Cats are naturally nocturnal/crepuscular, meaning that they are most active at night or at dawn and dusk. Unfortunately, that means that a sleeping human is a prime target of their nighttime play.
You can avoid your feet being attacked by a playful kitten by giving them their own room to spend the night. Make sure that this room has access to their water bowl, litter box and plenty of toys, and your kitten will be free to romp around while you rest.
#7: Consider a playmate
If you’ve got your hands full with one kitten, the idea of bringing in another one may seem laughable! But in fact, having two kittens around the same age is a brilliant way to divert both cats’ attention away from humans.
Kittens, after all, will tire each other out much more efficiently than their Owner or Cat Sitter. And, they don’t mind taking turns being the hunter and the hunted!
How do I stop my kitten from attacking me in a more aggressive way?
In this article, we’ve tackled the question of how to stop your cat from attacking you with a normally playful kitten in mind. However, if you feel that your kitten is attacking you not out of play but out of fear, territorial aggression, or another reason, your best option is to check with your vet.
There are many possible medical causes for aggression in cats, so get your furry friend in for a check-up to rule out any health concerns.
How do I stop my kitten from attacking me in a timely manner?
As we said, kittens are at their prime learning phase, so you should be able to curb this behavior more quickly than you might with an adult cat. But still, lifestyle changes take time! Some kittens will learn in the matter of a few days, while others may not fully understand that your shoe is not something to hunt until you’ve been working on the behaviour for a few weeks.
So, stick with your consistent play schedule, make sure to stock up on exciting cat toys, and remember to give your kitten plenty of praise when they stop treating you like live-in hunting practice!