What to Do if a Kitten Bites Really Hard

Kitten bites aren't as cute once they grow up.

Kitten bites aren't as cute once they grow up.

Most kittens will bite anything they can wrap their jaws around. It isn't because kittens are jerks, but rather because it's just how they learn. Between that and their teething, you may sustain a hard bite or two. All you have to do is clean up, discipline and move on.

React and Leave

Giving your kitten negative attention after she bites is positive reinforcement. If you sustain a kitten bite, react with a loud "Ow!" and then getting up and leaving the room. Doing this consistently teaches your kitten that if she bites, she's going to lose your attention and your company, which is the ultimate motivation.

Clean Up

When you get a bad bite, you always want to clean it up. After all, you don't know just what bacteria are hanging out inside that mouth, and if she broke the skin, you want to protect yourself. Wash up with water and soap or hydrogen peroxide, and cover the bite with a bandage. If your kitten hasn't had her shots, contact your doctor as soon as possible, as you may need a tetanus shot.

Try Again, Reward

After treating your bite, return to the kitten and continue playing. Anytime she bites, no matter how hard, you have to repeat the process of saying "Ow" and leaving the room. Not all of her bites may seem painful or hard, but she'll learn that the behavior is acceptable -- and when she grows up, those bites will be a lot less cute. When you're done playing, lavish her with praise. Eventually, she'll learn that bite-less playing keeps your attention and earns her praise.

Prevent Future Bites

Do your part to prevent your kitten from biting in the first place. Kittens bite primarily because they are teething and because they love to play. Give your kitten toys to help her teeth, including both hard and soft toys she can chew on. Make sure to play with her at least twice a day for 10 to 15 minutes each. This strengthens your bond and helps her use up some of that excess kitten energy. When you play, always use a toy. Never engage her in tickling or wrestling games, or else those fingers are going to get nibbled on.

 

About the Author

Tom Ryan is a freelance writer, editor and English tutor. He graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a degree in English writing, and has also worked as an arts and entertainment reporter with "The Pitt News" and a public relations and advertising copywriter with the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh.

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