How to Prevent Kittens from Biting and Scratching

Brown and tan striped kitten biting owner's fingers

Kittens frequently bite and scratch one other while playing and becoming aroused. This behavior is normal for kittens and often doesn't indicate animosity or anxiety, but if it goes uncontrolled, it can develop into a significant issue. This is especially true if a little child is playing with your kitty.

Fortunately, in most cases, it's fairly easy to train kittens and avert this behavior. Find out why your kitten might be prone to scratching and biting and how to resolve this behavioral issue.

Why Do Kittens Scratch and Bite?

Most of the time, kittens play-act by biting and scratching. This is how kids develop sibling relationships, experiment with limits, and generally have fun. But on occasion, biting and might indicate that your kitten is scared, irate, or in pain. To be certain that something is untrue:

  • If someone other than yourself is complaining about the kitten's behavior, watch to see the interaction between that person and the kitten. Some young children are not yet able to understand that they can hurt a pet and may be inadvertently playing too roughly with the kitten.
  • Avoid touching your kitten's face, paws, and stomach. While some kittens are comfortable with being touched on any part of the body, others are protective of these sensitive spots.
  • Examine your kitten gently by petting it all over. If it consistently responds negatively to a gentle touch in a certain location, there's a good chance it's hurting. If that's the case, a trip to the vet is in order.
  • Be sure that your kitten's behavior is not related to something that it finds frightening. For example, is it scratching only in certain locations in the home, with certain people, or around certain animals? If that's the case, you may wish to investigate the possibility of fear.
  • When in doubt of the cause of your kitten's biting and scratching, make an appointment with your veterinarian.

How to Stop Scratching and Biting

It's possible that kittens who scratch and bite have been encouraged to do so in the past. This is particularly typical if you or your kids found the kitten's behavior adorable when it was very young. It's critical that you never "roughhouse" with your cat and allow any age for biting or scratching. This teaches the cat that its hands are toys, which makes it more difficult to unlearn later. When playing, try using cat toys instead of your fingers and reserve your fingers for soft caressing. To ensure that the cat receives a consistent message, make sure that all members of the household (as well as guests) are aware of these rules.

You've made sure your cat's biting and scratching are not the result of any physical issues, you've tried to avoid roughhousing with your bare hands, yet the kitten keeps biting and scratching you. Here are some suggestions for dealing with the issue and teaching your kitty to quit acting in this way.

Trim the Claws

Unlike declawing, which hurts your cat, claw trimming doesn't. It should be done frequently. Instead of using scissors, get a cat-specific clipper or use strong human nail clippers. Your veterinarian can demonstrate the appropriate length and trimming method.

Yell "Ouch"

Say "Ouch" clearly and out loud. Take advantage of the opportunity to carefully release your hand from your cat's grasp. If you pull it away, the kitten will believe that the game is still in progress and will attempt to grasp it once more. Instead, gently remove your hand from the cat's line of sight.

Give the Kitten a "Time-Out"

Leaving the room is an option, as is bringing your kitten to a compact, quiet room and leaving it there with the door closed. Your cat can simply be overexcited and in need of some peaceful healing time. After 15 minutes, open the door. Leave the kitten alone for a time if it's sleeping, which is frequently the case. If the cat is awake, it could be in need of some tender care. For the time being, set aside the playtime and simply pet your cat to show it how much you care.

Redirect the Kitten's AttentionĀ 

Often, your cat may playfully bite your hands or feet out of boredom and in search of a toy. Give your kitty 15 minutes of vigorous playtime with an many times a day. Teaser toys like Da Bird or others are excellent options. You may also use commercially supplied "gloves" with very long hanging "fingers" or a laser-beam-style toy that kitties can pursue and pounce on. Your play sessions with your cat should be more fun for both of you once you've taught them that hands are not toys.

A scratching post (or two) are a useful addition to your home in addition to the active play. These now serve as areas where the kitten is encouraged to scratch. Find the type your kitty prefers by experimenting with both horizontal and vertical posts as well as ones with various textures.

Next Steps

It's time to consult a doctor or enlist the aid of a feline behavior professional if you and your family have been consistent and tried these methods but your cat is still biting or scratching. These professionals can frequently visit your house to assess the issue as it is developing and provide customized advice and solutions for your unique cat, circumstance, and way of life.

If you suspect your pet is sick, call your vet immediately. For health-related questions, always consult your veterinarian, as they have examined your pet, know the pet's health history, and can make the best recommendations for your pet.


"Behavior Problems: Aggression. Cornell University Feline Health Center." ;