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Kitten bites

Napoleon

Savannah Super Cat
#1
Our 4 month old Savannah cat is not yet used to us picking him up. He will climb into our laps and fall asleep but quite often when we go to pick him up he will try to bite us. I have followed earlier advice about picking him up for a few seconds at a time so hopefully he will accept it soon. Meantime, he jumps on my children and scares them a bit. He is a kitten so I know he just wants to play with toes, shoelaces, and hanging backpack straps but is this something that he will outgrow or is there another solution? Thanks!
 
#2
Is he really trying to bite or is he playing? Kittens will be kittens and they have what seems boundless energy for play. It can take months for them to settle down a little bit. If you don't already have an arsenal of toys, I recommend you get teaser wand with attachments that can be replace/interchangeable, some stuffed toys that he can toss around and chase, etc. Dedicate some serious play time to him, let the kids get involved so that he learns what is appropriate play. :)
 

Patti

Admin
Staff member
#3
Many Savannahs simply don't like to be picked up - if your kitten resists now it may be that he will never be willing to be picked up. I agree that working with him as you described by picking him up for just a few seconds at a time can and does at times work. Be patient and keep working with him.

As for the biting - that should really be curbed sooner rather than later. A little kitten nip can turn into a big cat bite if your kitten is not taught manners now. I usually start teaching the little ones by yelping loudly (right in their ear if necessary) any time they bite me a bit too hard. That seems to work the vast majority of the time, however there are some that can be very persistent and for those you can try saying 'no' loudly and pinching the hind toes when he bites or even putting your finger down his throat. Sounds nasty but almost always works. I do have one cat who still gets so worked into a frenzy of happiness when I play with him will still sometimes forget and bite me hard (in play) and needs frequent reminders to be more gentle.

I'm also a bit concerned about your kitten jumping on the kids - this is not conducive to developing a positive relationship for either the kitten or the kids. I agree with Lori that he needs increased play time with wand toys or playing ball or fetch - whatever will help him expend his energy. Just be sure to put the toys away when he is unsupervised so that he doesn't chew parts off and swallow them, potentially causing all sorts of new problems.

One thing you can try is each time he jumps on the kids say 'no' and remove him from the room. Time outs for kittens should be brief 5-15 minutes at the most. It is also important that you teach the kids proper behavior around the kitten as well. They need to remember that he is just a baby so they don't need to be scared, and they shouldn't become angry with him either. I think if you establish routine play time with the kitten and the children 2-3 times a day they will both learn how to co-exist and eventually to love each other.
 

Brigitte Cowell

Moderator
Staff member
#4
Agreed that the children need to be taught appropriate ways to play with the kitten and avod using their hands etc. Some of the best play I have seen is when small children race about the house dragging a wand toy behind them...

Have you any other pets? If not, the kitten may be at a loss when looking for someone to wrestle with for example. Sometimes there are toys that will work that are large enough the kitten can grab hold of and kick with the hind legs. If they don't have something like that they might well think your arm or leg is the next best thing!
 

Napoleon

Savannah Super Cat
#7
Thanks all for the great advice! I know he is just playing but it is true play nips may be quite the ouch later on, so I will try the yelp to dissuade him. I have used a squirt of water now and then but am always wondering what is the fine line between discipline and having the cat be afraid of me.
 
S

shelby

Guest
#8
Just my two cents, but...now that you know he is not happy with anyone picking him up...I would refrain for a bit. Allow him to come to you ..since he will lay on you all to sleep...be happy for the time being. If he tries to bite when you pick him up...this behavior is being reinforced each time you pick him up..he bites and you will then be forced to put him down. Allow him time to trust the family and I think he will enjoy the picking up...not just now;>) As long as the biting is only taking place when picking him up..it seems to me that this will be easily avoided. It sounds like he doesn't like to feel like he is being restrained at this time and it will take time;>)
 

Napoleon

Savannah Super Cat
#9
Funny that you should say that, as our rule of thumb with the kids is "leave him alone, he will come to you". But when he suddenly leaps onto a 7 year old without any prompting, it can understandably cause some commotion so I need to train him out of this behavior. Good thing is, all 4 kids, me and my hubby all think he is awesome so that is a great start.
 
S

shelby

Guest
#10
It sounds like you are going to have the patience to work with him. Babies sometimes take sudden movement as a cue to jump...all in play, but not fun for the target.I am curious? do the children have food or anything in their hands when he does the jumping? I hope he does stop the biting and climbing on the children.
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