Play biting (6 week old kittens)

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mytriptoearth
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Play biting (6 week old kittens)

Post by mytriptoearth » Fri May 17, 2019 10:58 pm

Hi all,

Brand new cat owner here. My wife and I recently adopted a pair of kittens (6 weeks old to date) and we are having trouble getting them to stop play biting hands and feet, and human flesh in general. I've done all of the text-book methods to curb this -- from never using my hands/feet during play to freezing during a bite to giving a firm "no" or "ouch" to ignoring them and going into another room. Despite this, however, they keep playing rough with human body parts and clothing. Is this normal? Is training them to stop this behavior something that just takes a long time to correct? I play with them every day using wands and kick toys. They love this. The only problem is, they also love clawing my face lol. Any help would be greatly appreciated. I just want to do this right so that we will all get along when the kittens can grow into adults. I want them to be happy and I want us to be happy too.

Thank you!

Additional info: Both kittens are of an unknown mixed breed. The mother was a medium hair tabby of some sort and the father an unknown breed with the tuxedo coat. The only reason I say that is because one of the kittens has the tuxedo coat, the other is tabby like her mom. Both are females.

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fjm
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Re: Play biting (6 week old kittens)

Post by fjm » Sat May 18, 2019 6:13 am

6 weeks is very young for kittens to leave their mother and litter - the first few months are when they learn all those important lessons about being careful with teeth and claws from play with Mum and siblings, and most rescues and good breeders keep them together till 10-12 weeks. They will have each other, but you need to reckon on keeping up the Pain = Shriek = Fun Over message for many weeks to come - patience and persistence are the key when teaching babies!

I would love to see photos of the terrible two!

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Ruth B
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Re: Play biting (6 week old kittens)

Post by Ruth B » Sat May 18, 2019 8:31 am

I agree with FJM that, while at one time 6 weeks was the normal age to home kitten, it is now thought that they are better left with their Mum and siblings till about 12 weeks as they learn how to play nice from each other as well as other general good manners. You now have the task of teaching them. Don't despair it can be done, but you will have to make sure you decide where the line is and any time they step over it you get up and walk away, no more play time is punishment enough, some short sharp sound to let them know they hurt you can also help. They will learn but it will take weeks or months not days.

Also make sure they have plenty of chew toys around, they might still be teething a bit and they will certainly enjoy having something they know they can chew when they start to get their adult teeth at about 6 months, you don't suddenly want to become their chew toy again then.

If Mum was a Medium haired cat I would also suggest that you start teaching them to be groomed early on, a small soft brush and short strokes works best as it mimics the Mother's groom technique, I've even heard of people using large toothbrushes for it on kittens. Expect them to try and eat the brush at first but try and persevere. If they do develop the Mother's longer coat it will save a lot of problems in the future and even short haired cats benefit from being groomed as it helps prevent furballs.

mytriptoearth
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Re: Play biting (6 week old kittens)

Post by mytriptoearth » Sat May 18, 2019 4:37 pm

Thank you so much, Ruth and FJM!

The age:

Yeah, unfortunately we were told by the rescuer that they were older than they actually are. When the kittens arrived it was like, "Surprise! They're only five weeks old!" My panic meter went full tilt. Fortunately, they were already weened and potty trained so that's not been a problem. The only issue is the rough play on human skin. Outside of that, they're well behaved and very snugly. They love to leech on me and rub up against my face and purr their brains out.

We've had them for one week so far.

The play biting:

I had a hunch this was going to be a long haul, but I just wanted to check with the professionals. The internet articles and videos I've researched really haven't addressed how long it might take, only the methodology to use in order to curb said unwanted behavior. Thanks again.

Pics:

If you want to see the kitties, you can check them out on my Instagram. Username = thelukepenn.

Again, thank you so much for the advice. We'll keep at it. And if you can think of anything else, please feel free to send it my way. I have never owned a cat before and want to make sure they grow up happy and healthy, and, of course, friendly.

Cheers,
-Luke

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Mollycat
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Re: Play biting (6 week old kittens)

Post by Mollycat » Wed May 29, 2019 10:37 am

mytriptoearth wrote:
Sat May 18, 2019 4:37 pm

Yeah, unfortunately we were told by the rescuer that they were older than they actually are. When the kittens arrived it was like, "Surprise! They're only five weeks old!" My panic meter went full tilt. Fortunately, they were already weened and potty trained so that's not been a problem. The only issue is the rough play on human skin. Outside of that, they're well behaved and very snugly. They love to leech on me and rub up against my face and purr their brains out.
Mums teach kittens to be clean anyway, the surprise here is that they were fully weaned at 5 weeks.

We are where we are, the kittens are a little younger than they should have ideally left mum but once weaned and clean it's not the end of the world. In fact one compensation for leaving too early is that they can imprint on you much more easily (mum replacement) which can make certain aspects much easier. I guess I better explain this!

In 1987 I was 16 and got a kitten. She was supposed to go at 6 weeks old as they did back then but we were delayed 4 days because she wasn't fully weaned. She still didn't eat properly and for the first few days I fed her literally by hand (yuk). Also I had a long school holiday so when she started to go out she was going out into the garden with me. We had a big garden and a busy main road at the end of it. Every time she went towards the road I would shout and make her jump, and she would run back towards the house. When she started climbing the walls to go in the other gardens to explore I let her. We lived there until she was 14 and she never went near the road. Although I didn't realise it at the time, I used this imprinting to build a close relationship by stepping into her mum's role and was able to teach her safety and danger outside as well as indoors. Sadly I have never had another kitten to do this with in a more structured way but I have explained it to other people who have used the idea successfully with their kittens. Not sure how well the principle would work with two of them as they have each other to distract from you, but you do have their age on your side to be their teacher and develop a deeper closeness.

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