Don't bite me
July 29, 2021 9:37 AM   Subscribe

All my new kitten (8 weeks old) does is sleep and bite me. It's bearable for now, but I do not want him to grow into a cat that bites me. Please hope. I saw this question and this question, but the kittens were older (7 months) than this guy.

Will he outgrow it? Should I get another cat? A friend is looking to re-home her cat, so I could adopt it, but maybe what I need is another kitten? He's a foster fail and I've had him since he was 4 weeks old. No information on whether he and his mom were feral or someone's pet or what. Thanks for any suggestions!
posted by pH Indicating Socks to Pets & Animals (15 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
This is exactly why people say to get pairs of kittens. Yes, get another kitten, and do it now while he's young enough that he'll still easily accept a sibling!

In addition I've found blowing a puff of air hard on the kitten when they bite to be a surprisingly good corrective, but it hasn't changed the overall behavior of bitey kittens.
posted by phoenixy at 9:40 AM on July 29, 2021 [1 favorite]

By that age, I would expect your kitten to be playful. Just to check: you've tried playing with your kitten (balls, cat fishing, etc) and it's not working?
posted by aniola at 9:44 AM on July 29, 2021 [2 favorites]

When is the behavior happening? Sometimes cats get overstimulated from being scritched etc. or playing and sort of bite because of that. I'd say to firmly but calmly say "No" (with the puff thing mentioned above, if that's a thing that works for him) and then put him off your lap and onto the floor and stop interacting with him for a few minutes so that he gently comes to associate "I bite the human" with "aww no [fun time]. Might first want to give a quick yip of pain right away to help him realize "hey, I hurt them, don't want to do that!". And try to pick up on cues that he's getting over-stimulated so that you can stop the activity before he gets bitey.

bite --> "Yip" --> "No." --> put down on floor or walk away.
posted by tivalasvegas at 9:52 AM on July 29, 2021 [5 favorites]

Jackson Galaxy has good things to say on this (and a lot of things). I'm also currently dealing with an 8 week old biter that we picked up from a farmstand because he looked like he needed vet attention (and he did! he had a URI and pretty bad eye infection) and I think his people played with him with their hands because he is a jerkface biter, but we're gradually breaking him of it. There's hope, especially at this young age.
posted by urbanlenny at 9:55 AM on July 29, 2021 [3 favorites]

Um, posting again because... Do we have the same kitten? This guy is Pinto.

I also have another kitten who is older (Pico, who is 4 months today) and the two of them chase each other and wrestle and bite each other and sleep all day. It does help them to learn to bite less hard because they tell each other when they're biting too hard. Pico was raised with his mother, who I also have, and is not a biter anymore, but was a bit of one when he arrived at around 9 weeks old.
posted by urbanlenny at 10:07 AM on July 29, 2021 [3 favorites]

The Kitten Lady has a page on this
posted by jennypower at 10:27 AM on July 29, 2021 [3 favorites]

OMG, what cute kittens in this thread.
posted by JimN2TAW at 10:59 AM on July 29, 2021 [10 favorites]

I have no kitten wisdom to share, but those kittens are adorable!
posted by rpfields at 2:59 PM on July 29, 2021 [1 favorite]

If you can/want to get another kitten, I'd recommend it. Not only will the other kitten help teach your (very cute) kitten boundaries around biting/scratching, but it also means you'll have help tiring the kitten out when he gets the zoomies. Despite their reputation for being aloof, cat's are social creatures, and they are generally happier with a friend (though if they grow up solo, that's a different story).

As for the bitting, making a high pitched yip and moving away from the kitten eventually stopped my most recent kitten from bitting us, though a friendly nibble still occasionally turns into a bite. But he's much better than he was at 8 weeks.
posted by coffeecat at 3:48 PM on July 29, 2021

Last year, I had a ginger boy foster fail who arrived at four weeks old with a URI. All he did was sleep cuddled up next to my neck. And then, suddenly, he was a ball of knives! Where did my snuggly boy go? Around 8 weeks is what I remember. He was also a solo kitten, arrived at the shelter without litter mates.

So, a second kitten is a great idea, but please observe a quarantine period between them. Consult your vet and the shelter about when it would be safe for your kitten to meet another kitten.

In the meantime, what really worked was separating my kitten when he got too bitey. Just picking him off the sofa and putting him on the floor, or putting him on the floor from my bed. Happily, he grew out of it, but it took a while. And, I would never adopt a solo kitten again. They should come in pairs.

p.s. Your kitten is a scoop of marmalade adorableness.
posted by gladly at 6:38 PM on July 29, 2021 [3 favorites]

You have one adorable kitten, and I agree that you should get a second one, so they'll take some of that out on each other. Good luck! My senior cat knows to be gentle with hands, but has different rules for feet. So if you like footstools, consider doing some training involving feet.
posted by mersen at 6:52 PM on July 29, 2021

I did the high pitched “ow ow ow” yelping with my bitey kitten very consistently and he has grown up to be the gentlest cat who gives extremely light nips when playing. That being said, another kitten is also an excellent idea for all the reasons stated above!
posted by KatlaDragon at 8:43 AM on July 30, 2021 [1 favorite]

This spring I fostered a mama cat and her litter of seven kittens. We ended up keeping mama and two of the kittens, who are just about four months old now. I agree with the advice to make a high pitched yelp when he bites you enough to hurt. It’s what the kittens do with each other when they wrestle and they carry it too far - it’s a communication that they understand. Do the yelp and then go away from them for a little while.

But also, get some of that energy out by playing with your kitten with toys that they CAN attack. One of those feather wands or fishing rod type toys with dangley worms on a string etc. They are MEANT to practice and develop their hunting and attacking skills, so give them an appropriate outlet for it. (The absolute best outlet is definitely another kitten though, so if you can, do that.)
posted by fancyoats at 12:20 PM on July 30, 2021

Hold on, "All he does is sleep and bite me." Is the biting playful or defensive? If you approach with a handkerchief or a cat toy does he play with it or chase it? Is he full of energy and runs around a lot in between naps or is it literally just sleeping and biting?

I think a lot of people here are assuming it's playful kitten biting, but if it's defensive biting there's a chance he has a medical issue. Sick cats and cats that are in pain need extra sleep and will often be defensive when approached. I would have a vet do a full blood workup and exam just in case.

[My reaction after looking at the pictures: That's not a sick cat. But just in case.]
posted by mmoncur at 10:53 PM on August 1, 2021

Response by poster: Thanks, all!

No, I don't think he's sick or afraid, he is running around too, and he seeks me out as a place to sleep, when he's worn out from all the biting. I tried yipping, but he bites me so often it just felt silly. I am playing with him more, and picking him up and moving him away from me when he bites. Hopefully time will do the rest!
posted by pH Indicating Socks at 10:37 PM on August 2, 2021 [1 favorite]

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