I'm a princess- and I know it.
|Purred: Mon Aug 15, '11 9:08am PST |
|The first thing is to determine why he's biting (sometimes it's not as obvious as you might think). A few questions...
- Any idea how old he is?
- You mentioned that he seemed friendly when you greeted him at the cage, and it was only when you pulled him out to play that the biting became apparent. Does he display any other aggressive or frightened behavior towards you (hissing, scratching, growling, trying to get away from you), or does he just seem to be playing too rough?
- I take it that he's actually biting the other kittens? Is he doing anything else aggressive towards them (attacking, hissing, etc), or is he just playing too aggressively? We have found that often our cats react differently towards humans vs. cats, and if he's only biting humans but not the other kittens, that could be an important clue.
- How did he meet the other kittens? Did you just set him down in the middle of them? How long were they together before you pulled him out? It may just be that they need a slower introduction and a bit more time to get used to each other. Maybe let them sniff each other through the bars of the bunny hutch. After that, when they meet in person, don't set the new guy right in the middle; set him down on the opposite side of the room, pull out a toy (like a feather wand or something) so the kittens aren't focused on each other, and make sure that the new guy has a safe place to run too if he gets scared--a cat that feels cornered may panic.
- When he bites you, is he nibbling at your fingertips, maybe turning his head to try and gnaw on them? If so, that may just be residual suckling behavior: We have a pair of kittens that we just weaned, and towards the end they would chew on the bottle nipple. When they're hungry, they'll sometimes do the same thing to our fingertips. It pinches a little, but they're obviously not trying to inflict pain. If this is what's going on, don't worry about it. Just make sure he's getting the right amount of food and take your fingers away when he tries to chew on them, and the behavior should disappear on its own.
- Is it possible he's teething? If so, you might ask your vet if there's anything you can do to help (do NOT give him anything like Orajel or alcohol on his gums, like some people do for human babies). I seem to recall our vet recommending that we get a wet washcloth, twist it up, and put it in the freezer or fridge for a little bit, and let a teething kitten chew on that. That was a LONG time ago, though, so I could be remembering that incorrectly.
If he is biting as part of play, then take heart: this is a common problem, and they can be trained out of it! Kittens are learning to hunt, and they don't instinctively know that some things are off-limits for biting. A couple suggestions:
- Don't play with him with your fingers. Ever. Whenever it's playtime, give him a toy, or use a wand, or even just dangle a piece of string (don't leave him alone with the string, though, else he might swallow it).
- When he bites, it's human instinct to jerk your hand away, but try to resist that. Instead, just let your hand go limp, and then take it away after the kitten lets go. This does two things: (1) It reinforces the idea that your hand is not prey. Jumping away is something prey would do. If your hand instead goes limp, the cat will often get confused and bored. (2) Personally, I find that it hurts a lot less if you let your hand go limp, heh: you don't have teeth scraping across your skin, and when a cat senses that their prey is trying to get away, their instinct is to bite down harder.
Also, here are a few other websites that might be helpful:
Try not to blame yourself too much I completely agree that it was a good idea to keep him separate from the other kittens until he was well. Yes, ideally more socialization is always better, but there are only so many hours in the day! Bless you for sticking with him--he owes his little life to you.
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