Many people have a misconception that cats cannot be trained because they are solitary animals and like to act on their own. That’s why the common scratching and biting behavior don’t seem to resolve with some cat owners because they have the illusion that their cats are untrainable, so it is not worth a try.
Bite and scratch inhibition can be taught to kittens the same way you teach your puppies. Kittens are naturally very playful. When they are around 8 weeks old, part of their social development is to interact with their littermates by mock fights, mini grappling and other rough playing matches. We do not have the coat to protect our skin nor would we bite back to draw the boundry. When you start allowing your kittens to scratch or bite your hands, you are giving them a message that you are condoning their behavior and it is OK to play with you aggressively.
What can we do to stop kittens from biting and scratching us?
The trick is very simple. Do not feel obligated to engage in rough play with your kittens because you think that is part of their nature. Kittens can learn to understand what you like and find the balance to play peacefully with you. All you need to do is give them a clear message that if they continue to bite or scratch you, you will not play with them.
When you get bitten or scratched by a kitten, often time it is unintentional or accidental. Don’t worry that they may be mad at you. Your kitten is just having a little too much fun. In order to reduce this kind of behavior and teach your cat to play nicely with you, you should say “No!” in a firm but calm voice, and then walk away from your kitten for a few minutes. Do not feel bad for ignoring your cat. You are simply telling your kitten that “no more play time because you just scratched me.” When your kitten has composed themselves, you can go back to continue playing. However, if the aggression re-emerges, you want to use the same technique to reinforce the training. There is a point where your kitten becomes tired or uninterested in its play because of the new rule, you should call a time-out and only play again when the kitten goes back in its play mode.
By continuing giving your kitten attention after you are bitten or scratched, the adverse behavior will only aggravate.
Although rough play is not encouraged between you and your kitten, cats need to play aggressively sometimes because it is innate to them. What you can do is provide a few stuffed toys and scratching posts or pads for them to play with.
Another technique to train your cat to play nicely is to replace your hand with a toy that they can go wild with. When your kitten is getting aggressive with you, pull out your hand and place in a toy. Quickly they will learn that it is fun to play fight with a toy.
With combination of the 2 aforementioned techniques plus your consistancy in training, very soon you will see a dramatic change in your kitten’s behavior towards you.
Image by: http://www.flickr.com/photos/8170311@N02
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