How do you discipline a kitten?

This is a place to gain some understanding of cat behavior and to assist people in training their cats and dealing with common behavior problems, regardless of the method(s) used. Keep in mind that you may be receiving advice from other cat owners and lovers...not professionals. If you have a major problem, always seek the advice of a trainer or behaviorist!


Little Princess
Purred: Fri Jun 22, '07 12:00am PST 
I've never had an indoor cat before Emma.. and I've had a yorkie for a year so I'm rather used to disciplining him. However I realize that kittens and cats are completely different.

Here recently Emma has gotten really mean and I dont know what to do. She climbs up my leg (which isnt really a big deal.. or wouldnt be if she didnt attempt it when I had shorts on O.o), she bites at me and scratches me and this morning she was lying on my chest and suddenly, for no apparant reason, stuck her claw into my eye. Thankfully she only poked a hole in my contact.. but I'm starting to get scared of her.

Sometimes she's really sweet and gentle and she even cuddles up to me when she goes to sleep. I just need some ideas on how to keep her from being so mean. Any suggestions?

♥- Arwen- ♥

Purred: Fri Jun 22, '07 1:33am PST 
Kittens tend to be feisty. Make sure you set aside playtime to get out her energy. I heard that you can gently but firmly tap them on their nose, but I don't necissarily reccomend it. Say NO! whenever they do something bad or spray her with a squirt from a water bottle, that is what I do, but not often. She will probably settle down once she gets a little older and if she gets spayed and or declawed, if that is what you want to do. Just be consistent. I am not an expert by any means, but I have had cats.


Little Princess
Purred: Fri Jun 22, '07 10:28am PST 
Thanks so much for you help.

Retsina,- 1993-2010

Queen of the- Mansion- (retired)
Purred: Fri Jun 22, '07 1:58pm PST 
Is Emma really a month old!?

She's not being mean. She's being a kitten. Her instincts tell her you have a nice thick fur coat over your skin, and she doesn't have the experience to know better yet. Also, if she really left her mom as young as a month, you're going to have to work on her socialization, and teach her things her mom and littermates should have taught her--like bite inhibition and control of those retractable claws. Also using the litterbox, and maybe washing herself daily.

What Arwen said about how to convey the message that certain behavior is unacceptable is good, although once she's bigger there's nothing wrong with adding a gentle tap on the nose to your repertoire. That's with one finger, and very quick and soft. It doesn't have to be anything more than that, to convey the message. Blowing gently in the cat's face also works. These are all things that don't hurt the cat, but do make clear that what they're doing right now is unacceptable.

What are you feeding her? Has she seen the vet? Do plan on spaying her; it's even more important for a cat's health than a dog's, because cats can, from the time they reach maturity, be pregnant, nursing, or in heat almost constantly.

She's a beautiful baby! You'll both adjust, and do fine.


Cuteness- Incarnate
Purred: Fri Jun 22, '07 5:12pm PST 
I've found "yelping" (softly) if she scratches you to be effective. This lets the kitten know you were hurt, and is similar to the reaction of litter mates if she was playing too rough. You could also try gently blowing a puff of air into her face to stop her. Right now to kitty, a moving arm or foot is a toy. As soon as that limb stops moving (in her mind, stops playing) and she gets a puff of air in his face, she'll know the hand or foot isn't playing and doesn't want to.

Never play fight with her with your hands, only use toys. If she tries to claw or bite your hands in play divert her attention with a furry toy or other suitable item. She will soon learn its okay to bite toys but not okay to bite you! Try and tire her out when she gets feisty with a wand, lazer pointer or other long distance toy.

I would not recommend any kind of physical punishment or use of the water bottle as it can cause the cat to feel she has to defend herself from you.


I'm cute and I- know how to use- that :)
Purred: Fri Jun 22, '07 9:43pm PST 
Mommy has noticed that I tend to get more aggressive if I'm bored or upset, and I'm a lot bigger than Emma is. While I benefited from living with other cats for a while, so I know to bite soft and not claw at people for no reason, I've done the climb the leg thing to my parents. Usually they yell: "No", and stop paying attention to me for a while. That gets me to stop for a while, but I have to be periodically reminded that human limbs are not toys.

Mommy says it's easier to prevent these outbursts by making sure I feel like I'm paid attention to (I love being the center of attention). She tries to play with me at least four times a day, usually with a feather wand or the laser pointer. I've figured out how the feather wand works, so I've gotten into a routine where if I want to play with her or dad, I try and tell them by following them around the apartment and meowing to them. Sometimes I even mouth the feather, and drag the wand around to make my point. MOL.

Sometimes my parents are busy, but if they do have time, they try and play with me for as long as I like (you can tell I'm done when I either lose interest in chasing, or if I'm laying down because I'm tired). Mommy says that tuckering me out right before her bedtime is good, because then I'm tired enough where I find it comforting to go off and play on my own for a while, which allows her to get to bed and sleep undisturbed for a few hours.

Some nights I'm so tuckered out that I want nothing better than to sleep myself, so I lay myself down on a chair in the bedroom, so I can have a view of my parents' bed when I wake up, and I can come and go from the bedroom without waking them up. They seem to get grouchy if I wake them up in the middle of the night (I've learned that the hard way), and I want them rested in the morning so they can play with me first thing.


The Prince
Purred: Sat Jun 23, '07 7:27pm PST 
My mommy agrees that you really need to tire her out with lots and lots of play, especially at such a young age. If this play leads to agression though, then you need to set a time out place. My mommy uses our small half bathroom. A few minutes in there gets me calmed down and then I'm ready to come back out again. With such a small kitten though, you really want to make sure her time out place is small and a place that she can't hurt herself in. Mommy wouldn't suggest anyplace that you want her to get in at other times, i.e. the carrier. Hope this helps!


sneak attack
Purred: Tue Jun 26, '07 8:40pm PST 
When Ninja was a baby, he like to play with claws and teeth too. We had started out disciplining him using a squirt bottle. However, he likes water, so he would misbehave to get squirted. So, we began using this sort-of "eee" noise and corrected whatever behavior he was doing wrong. Now, whenever we make that noise he stops what he's doing. He plays without claws, doesn't bite hard, stays off the top of the frog cage and tables, and anytime we make the noise, he just stops.

You can also teach tricks. If you give a reinforcer you can encourage any behavior. Ninja fetches, comes when you call him, and begs by putting his paw on your shoulder (then waits patiently until he gets a treat).

Cats really aren't unlike dogs, you just have to be consistant.


The world's a- toy
Purred: Tue Jun 26, '07 9:11pm PST 
This thread was really helpful!
I've only been a climbing post once before, but I think I was SO surprised and "yelped" so loudly because I couldn't believe it - it hasn't happened again thankfully. big grin

Member Since
Purred: Fri Oct 4, '13 8:58pm PST 
HI Emma, Is she a kitten(6 months or less)? when a kitten climbs up your legs she doesnt know shes scratching you. shes just trying to get your attention and get close to you. She/he is playing. and as for scratching your eye... she was probably playing too. your eyelids open and close and any movement is a toy for a kitten. I believe all my kittens "batted" my eye lids when they were little. the best thing to do if they climb up your leg is put them back on floor gently and say no in a firm voice till they learn (remember she/hes a baby so it will take a while)or pick them up before they start climbing. as for batting your eyelids...be careful when she gets that close and distract her/him with a toy.

BUT the first and best thing to do is keep their nails trimmed! a baby kittens nails grow fast so if you dont distract her quickly enough the next time she playfully bats your eyelid... you will get a furry paw instead. Just remember shes a baby and they teeth and scratch as a part of learning. if the behavior continues after she/hes 6 months or so (not an exact science smileask your vet for some advice. Enjoy your new family member !