Your tiny feline fluffball came to you when she was still tiny. She had not yet been weaned from her mama. While you got the benefit of her cuteness, she lost out on the benefit of her mama’s guidance, and now you’re dealing with kitten behavior issues.
Socialization and Humans
Your little kitty missed out on the training she would have gotten from her mother. Once kittens open their eyes, their mothers begin showing and teaching them such basics as using the litter box, playing and defense techniques.
When your baby furball began playing with you, you may have thought it was cute when she extended her sharp little claws (ow!) in play-fighting with you. Those cute little “love-nips” she gave you when she still had baby teeth were cute -- then. Now that she’s bigger and stronger, it’s not so cute. In addition, a scratch from those claws can become infected. Her mother would have taught her the “proper use of claws” had your baby been allowed to live with her for a longer time.
Lack of Pawing
Your fur baby has an endearing habit that is actually more instinctive -- but, because she was removed from her mommy so early, she either doesn’t remember using it or she never learned it. Cats who lived with their mothers for several months after birth paw at their mothers’ teats to stimulate the let-down of milk at feeding time. As they grow older, these kittens will paw their humans’ bodies as well, such as when they are about to lie down for a nice, relaxing nap.
When you see a kitty’s eyes go slightly unfocused and her mouth opens, she’s about to knead or paw you or a comfy blanket. Some cats also drool as they paw their humans.
Litter Box Issues
Kittens who have lived with their mamas for several months had time to learn how to use the litter box and cover their waste. Mama cat really does show her babies how to do so. This means that, if you adopted your little cat-gal too early, her mama didn’t get that time she needed to show her little girl how to “do her business” correctly.
This means that, now that she’s in your home, when she eliminates poop, she won’t know she’s supposed to paw the litter over her waste and cover it -- and you’ll quickly figure that out as the lovely, distinctive scent of cat doo-doo wafts through your house. Ewww, phew! Stinky! You’re going to have to use the poop scooper to push the litter over the poop. Please don’t try to train your kitten yourself. Her mama is the only one who knows how to do this.
Your kitten’s mama also teaches her babies when it’s appropriate to bite and when it’s not. If course, if you didn’t express disapproval or pain when she first began giving you those cute, li’l love nips, now you’re getting more painful bites, which do hurt.
You can train her to stop biting you. Use your vocal cords just like a cat would. Say, “yowwwwwwww!” using the same sound a cat does. That will get your fur baby’s attention. At the same time, make your hand go limp. She’ll release, thinking she’s killed her prey. Turn your back to her and ignore her. Try not to pull your hand away, because you’ll get a scratch that could get infected. Break her of her biting habit by hissing at her. She is wired to instinctively jump back and break her attack on you.
Genevieve Van Wyden began writing in 2007. She has written for “Tu Revista Latina” and owns three blogs. She has worked as a CPS social worker, gaining experience in the mental-health system. Van Wyden earned her Bachelor of Arts in journalism from New Mexico State University in 2006.