Jackie asks, "I adopted a tiny kitten that is the most adorable little fella out there. Until you feed him or he finds food. This pint-size furry critter becomes a wild tiger, slashing, growling, spitting, and biting. Why is this, and how do we stop it? I've clipped his claws, so we have no more piercings."
Well, I double-checked with Jackie, and as I suspected, this kitten was THE RUNT. This sounds behavioral, though cat aggression can be due to medical issues, so first rule that out with your vet. As the smallest of the litter, he probably had to fiercely compete to get his momma’s nipple. His aggressive behavior may have helped him out when he had to squeeze by his bigger and stronger siblings to get to the food. It’s best to break him of his bad habit before the tiny claws turn into fierce talons.
If there are other animals in the house, feed this kitten in a room by himself. Eliminate any perceivable threats to his supper by giving him a calm, quiet space to wine and dine. At signs of aggression, surprise him with a squirt of water to the nose or an audible hiss. Never punish by being physically aggressive yourself.
When I have aggressive kittens, I give them their own dish and gently stroke their hindquarters as they feed to keep them calm. With little ones, I find the issue usually resolves itself once they realize nobody else wants their kibbles. That’s when they start jumping on my lap at the dinner table and looking for chicken, but that’s another song.
"Kitten Food Aggression" by Sarah Donner
I am just your friendly kitten
With a streak of food aggression
I claw and paw and hiss and shriek
When you bring out the wet meats
Because I’m little, I must defend my kibble
Eat every meal like it’s my last
Bitch, you better get back!
I just might grow out of this
When I realize no one will steal it
Spray me with water on the nose
Or feed me in another room solo
You are being a good mom
I just lose control when you bring me my noms
SOURCES: Cornell University, Canidae Pet Food, Love To Know