How to get a kitten to stop attacking you—defend yourself from a tiny predator
Many kittens go through a feisty phase when they viciously attack their cat parents. They plan an ambush from behind a sofa, then bolt across the room to bite your leg or scratch your arms. While exercising their sudden attack skills is adorable at first, these unexpected strikes become painful and annoying.
It is essential to nip unwanted behaviour in the bud before it becomes a serious problem. Even if you are tempted to allow your kitty's violent outbursts, it's best to learn how to get a kitten to stop attacking you. Untamed explains why your new kitten may be attacking you and presents a few actionable tips to help you prevent them from testing their combat skills on their housemates and save your skin before those claws and fangs are fully grown.
Why does your kitten attack you?
Understanding the reasons for violent behaviour is crucial for fixing the problem. Your kitten may be:
- Practising hunting skills—Felines are predators, so when your kitten stalks and attacks you, they only demonstrate their instincts. The behaviour is perfectly normal, and kittens usually grow out of it on their own
- Bored—If your kitty lacks stimulation, they may resort to violence for fun. It doesn't mean they are vicious. They are telling you that they don't have any toys or that their environment is not stimulating enough to keep them busy. If you don't play with your kitten enough, or you leave them alone too long, they may also ask for your attention in a rather unfortunate manner
- Inadequately socialised—Kittens who were separated from their mother and littermates too early never got the chance to learn how to stop biting. If they don't stay with their mothers long enough, they skip that first step in socialisation. If this is the cause of your kitten’s attacks, consult a professional behaviourist
- Sick—Sometimes, kittens attack their cat parents because of an underlying health problem. Hyperthyroidism and problems with the central nervous system are common causes of sudden attacks. In this case, you must consult your vet. It's best to rule out medical issues before you consider behavioural problems
- Teething—When kittens are teething, they tend to chew on whatever they find. They may make a game out of it and decide to chase your feet to get a good nibble and relieve the pain
Putting a stop to kitten attacks
Once you have ruled out serious medical problems, there are many ways to teach your kitten not to plot against your feet. Here’s what you can do:
- Schedule daily playtime sessions
- Create a stimulating environment
- Establish a routine
- Learn how to say "no"
- Reward good behaviour
Scheduling daily playtime sessions
Kittens sometimes attack you because they want your attention.
Source: Camila Benítez
Kitten attacks are usually a cry for attention, and the problem disappears once you start spending more time with your feline friend.
You should have several highly active play sessions throughout the day, each lasting for about ten minutes. It would be best to determine the times when your kitten is the most playful and have a playdate then.
Vigorous playtime has many benefits:
- Allowing your kitten to have fun with you
- Creating a stronger bond between you two
- Teaching the kitten not to attack you
- Helping the kitten release their bountiful energy
Your kitten typically attacks you because they are practising their hunting skills, so you should give them something to chase. You can't stop your cat from being a predator, but you can redirect their attention to appropriate objects.
Dangle feathery toys above your kitty or drag them over the floor. It would be ideal to mimic the movements of a bird or a mouse. Recreating how cats hunt in the wild will engage your kitten and let them follow their instincts.
Never use your hands to play with your kitten. If you do, your kitten may get confused and start attacking your hands when you try to pet or groom them.
Creating a stimulating environment
Create a stimulating environment for your kitten so they stay busy instead of ambushing you.
Interactive toys will help you create a more stimulating environment for your kitten, so they can have fun on their own instead of attacking you. To keep things interesting, you should change the toys regularly so your kitten doesn't get bored with the same old playthings.
Here are some great ideas:
- Give your kitten new cardboard boxes to explore
- Provide puzzle feeders for additional cognitive stimulation
- Put an old toy into a new box or bag
- Install perches so your kitten can climb and jump
- Get a cat tree where your kitty can sleep, climb, jump, and hide
- Provide a scratching post so your kitty can file their nails and stretch
- Build a safe, enclosed outside space and let them have some fun “in the wild”
Establishing a routine
Felines thrive when they have a routine. A consistent schedule will also help you determine when they are most active, so you can schedule your playtime sessions accordingly.
Your furry friend should have preset meal times. If you feed your kitty different types of cat food—wet and dry—decide when they get which meal. If you let your kitten go outside, do it at the same time every day.
Grooming also belongs on your kitty's daily or weekly itinerary.
Learning how to say "no"
Don’t mind me. I’m getting ready to fight your foot.
Source: samer daboul
Playtime and routine are great ways to channel your kitty's energy, redirect their attacks away from you, and teach them good manners. If they have already developed an unwanted behavioural pattern, teach them to stop.
Kittens learn quickly, so even if their planned attacks are a habit, you can correct that behaviour. Reprimand them with a firm "no" and redirect their attention to an appropriate toy.
Instead of saying the word "no," you can take a time out when they become too rough. You will show the kitten that their behaviour doesn't lead to the desired outcome.
Don’t be too harsh when reprimanding your feline companion. It is also crucial never to physically punish them. Hitting and yelling will only make your kitty fearful of you. They may start attacking you out of fear and defensiveness, and your relationship will be impaired.
Rewarding good behaviour
Instead of punishing bad behaviour, reward your kitty whenever they do something right.
Treat them to something delicious but healthy (chicken, turkey, duck, or catnip) and praise them with kind words. You can also pet them or give them a new toy sometimes. Try to determine what motivates your kitten the most and use that as a reward.
A healthy kitten is a friendly kitten
If your kitten feels good, they will behave.
Source: Anna Bondarenko
The diet is an essential part of caring for a kitten. An inadequate meal plan can cause stomach problems, making your kitty uncomfortable, irritable, and prone to hostile behaviour. It can also provoke allergic reactions that lead to itchy skin, which further irritates your little furball.
Feeding your kitten predominantly dry food may also cause urinary infections, bladder stones, or cystitis due to the low moisture content in biscuits. These unpleasant conditions negatively affect your cat’s overall mood, making them frustrated and unhappy.
Changing the food can significantly improve your kitten’s disposition and make them more relaxed and approachable.
Besides gastrointestinal issues like vomiting, diarrhoea, flatulence, irritable bowel syndrome, or constipation, a well-balanced diet can help your kitten stay healthy in the long run. Regular, adequately portioned, and nutritious meals prevent obesity and other weight- and diet-related issues, including:
- Heart disease
- Kidney disease
- Joint problems
What should you feed your kitten?
Kittens should eat food with at least 50% animal protein. Protein from meat and fish is crucial for:
- Brain development
- Muscle growth
- Normal heart function
- Flexibility and agility
Many products on the market fail to deliver sufficient nutrients because they contain a lot of carbs and other filler ingredients, such as:
Type of ingredient
While none of the ingredients above is toxic to felines, they are often useless and hard to digest.
The best protein sources for felines are:
You can also treat your kitten to small pieces of beef, lamb, pork, bacon, or ham. Always account for the calories you give your kitten in the form of snacks and modify their regular portions accordingly.
Tame your feisty kitten with Untamed
Untamed can help you get your kitten to stop attacking you.
Image (c) Untamed
Untamed delivers all your kitten needs to be healthy, happy, and relaxed. Our gravy and jelly dishes are:
- High in protein—Untamed meals are made with 60%–63% human-grade whole meat
- Formulated by vets—Vets developed and honed our recipes to ensure they deliver all the essential amino acids (like taurine and arginine), vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. They offer an ideal protein-to-fat ratio, so you can keep your kitten at a healthy weight and help them grow and develop correctly
- Free from allergens—Untamed products are free from all iffy ingredients, including dairy, eggs, grains, harsh additives, or any other known allergen. We also offer two single-source-protein meals for super-sensitive kitties—Tuck-in Tuna in Jelly and Chocka Chicken in Jelly
If your kitten is generally picky and tends to avoid wet food, try Untamed. We impressed many cat parents, who shared with us the improvements they have noticed. Here is what they report:
What Untamed achieved
After one week
After four months
Want to see the benefits first-hand? Order the Untamed trial pack
You can order a seven-day trial pack online in only three steps:
- Take our Try Now quiz and tell us about your kitten
- Choose products tailored to their needs
- Place your order
The packet will arrive in a day, and your kitten can start sampling the delicacies. Once they give you a nod of approval, you can opt for a monthly cat food subscription.
Our services include:
- Free shipping
- Next-day delivery
- Easy order modification
- Simple cancellation policy
When you go Untamed, you also go green. We base our production on ethical principles, so we:
- Keep our entire supply chain carbon footprint neutral
- Use fully recyclable packaging
- Obtain meat from sustainable, cruelty-free farmers
- Get seafood from dolphin-safe suppliers