Kittens start losing their baby teeth around 9 weeks of age, and from that time until their adult teeth are fully grown in at 5 to 6 months, you can count on lots of chewing action. In fact, like teething babies, teething kittens will bite and chew on anything — including human toes and fingers — to ease the discomfort they feel. This is why teething time is a perfect time to teach your kitten to stop chewing on things she shouldn’t. Here are a few tips to help kitten teething and stop misdirected kitten biting.
Chew toys aren’t just for dogs anymore. A number of manufacturers make toys designed to give teething kittens an appropriate target for their instinct to chew. These include cloth toys that can be chilled to ease tender gums, firmer chews that will exercise the jaw muscles, and nylon-based teething toys.
The more your kitten plays with appropriate toys, the less likely she’ll be to chew on you. Your kitten needs interactive play because it helps her to work off excess energy and develop her balance and strength. At least two 10-to-15-minute play sessions per day using a teaser toy will give her an appropriate target for her chewing and strengthen the bond between you.
When you’re petting your kitten, be sure to keep your hands away from her mouth. The same thing goes for playtime: Never use your fingers as play objects.
If your kitten does bite you, say “Ow!” in a high-pitched but not overly loud voice and put her on the floor. When cats play together and the play gets too rough, the victim will utter a high-pitched cry and this will cause the aggressor to back off. Consistent use of the “Ow” and Down technique will teach your kitten that biting leads to an absence of play or petting.
Make sure you keep appropriate chew toys on hand wherever you are. If you’re sitting with your kitten and you see her getting in the mood to bite or chew, you can give her the toy and say, “Here, chew this.”
It’s crucial that you consistently and lovingly reinforce the message that only certain things are appropriate for chewing and biting, and people are not among them. The behavior training you do now will set the stage for the rest of your lives together. It’s entirely up to you whether that life includes being a human pincushion.
How do you handle kitten teething? How did you teach your kitten not to bite you? Tell us in the comments!
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