Our Kitten Keeps Attacking Us!

Ours are kitten problems rather than cat problems... We have just got a new kitten and when she's calm she's beautiful and really gentle towards us. But that's very rare. She's usually quite violent and she's constantly trying to bite your hands or your feet or arms, anything she can get hold of really. This makes it difficult to try and stroke her or play with her because she always goes to bite you.

Also, she digs her claws into you when she's biting you...it hurts a lot. We have tried tapping her on nose and telling her off when she does it, we have even tried putting her out of the room and locking the door but because she's young she gets distressed and cries so much we let her back in but she just starts attacking again!

I just don't know whether she's being playful or being purposely aggressive. We're lost for ideas on how to stop it. She even attacks your face. Please help!

Reply from Liz (editor): This is one of the fairly common cat problems and fortunately there is an effective way to deal with it.

If she's a little kitten and you've had her since she was taken from her mother, I'm sure she just thinks she's playing. People sometimes make the mistake of letting tiny kittens bite and scratch them when they're playing, but this is only OK until the kitten grows, then it starts to hurt - a lot - but by that stage the kitten has formed a habit.

I'm not saying that's what's happened in your case, but whether it is or not, I think she's seeing your hands, face etc. as "toys" and treating them as such!

To deal with this, I'd do the following:

When she does it, say "No" to her firmly (don't shout but sound authoritative) and as you say No, "scruff" her. To scruff her, place her on a fairly firm surface, get hold of her firmly by the scruff of the neck (without squeezing too hard) and push her neck (her head will follow) firmly down towards the surface she's on until her chin touches it. Hold her there for a few seconds, then let her go.

There's no need to do or say anything else. Chances are she'll go off to feel sorry for herself for a while, but she will get over it and come back to you. This is the most effective form of chastisement of a kitten or cat, as it's how their mother chastises them. You may have to do this a few times before she really gets the message, but I'm confident she will if you do this consistently when she attacks you.

Also, she may be using you as a plaything because she thinks you're the best "toy" around! Playing with her with interactive toys - e.g. you "tease" her with things hanging off little fishing rods etc. - is a good way to stop her attacking you. When she plays with the toys, praise her, but as soon as she purposely attacks you, say "no" and scruff her again.

I hope this helps solve your cat problems and best of luck!

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