Help! I'm overwhelmed with my 4 month old kitten.

JellyWoods

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Hi, brand new here, looking for advice, encouragement, and anything else.
Let me preface this with: I have NEVER owned a cat myself let alone raised a kitten. I'm much more comfortable with dogs, but even still, I've never raised a puppy on my own.
Long story short, I took in a 4-5 week old kitten that someone just dropped off, he is now 4 months old. I've named him Petra, short for Petrichor.
I live alone in a small one bedroom apartment. I'm technically not supposed to have a cat, so please don't suggest another kitten, as much as I would love that for him.
My issue is that I am increasingly frustrated with him. I cannot physically play with him enough to get his energy out, he is constantly eating, biting, chewing things that I can't always keep away from him. Like the carpet. I have wires that I have no way of hiding from him. I covered them in double sided tape, which has helped, but sometimes I see him nibbling at it. I have scratchers, I have toys of all kinds, I feed him great quality wet food only, he's never had kibble.
I didn't know better at first and have played with him with my hands this whole time. I put on a few layers of sleeves and he'll tackle, bite and kick my covered arms. I have no idea how to stop him doing this when he sees this as our primary mode of play. He will play with other toys, but I seem to be his favorite chew toy. I can't get him to stop biting at my long hair or my face, either.
I feel like because I am frustrated with his constant energy, biting me all over, his constant getting into things that I'm terrified will hurt or kill him (thumb tacks and push pins OMG). I feel I'm not loving him properly, and he doesn't like me. This may be the dog person in me coming out, that if he isn't wanting cuddles and pets, it must mean he hates me. Especially because he used to lay on me all the time and now he prefers his bed or even the floor.
I know a lot of his behavior is my fault, but I don't know how to fix it and I'm a bit exasperated.
Sometimes I yell, or throw a toy out of frustration. And I feel awful if I scare him.
I just wonder if he might be better off with someone else, but how can I adopt out a wily kitten that bites for sure?
Any help or advice would be greatly appreciated, thank you.
 

Furballsmom

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Hi
He doesn't hate you, he's just changing as he's growing.

You can stop the biting, with a yell, loud hiss (it's like cat language) loud No!, high pitched Ow!, but you'll have to do one or more of those things every time. Scaring him just a little bit, or making a firm impression, is what his mama would do to teach him what's unacceptable.

put on a few layers of sleeves and he'll tackle, bite and kick my covered arms.
I don't see anything wrong with this although it may be a bit challenging for him to learn the difference between all that cloth, and bare hands. I'll bet he can though, he sounds extremely smart.

Try clicker training to engage that mind.

You definitely have to kitten proof your house and get everything behind child proof locked drawers and cabinet doors.

Hard Polycarb pipe for the cords, carpet remnants, etc.

Can you teach him to wear a harness and go for walks?

Harness And Leash Training For Cats – TheCatSite Articles

First-time Cat Owner’s Guide – TheCatSite Articles
 

Kieka

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I'd agree with Furballsmom Furballsmom but also add on getting a schedule can really help. My boy was absolutely a crazy kitten with boundless energy. Keeping him on a schedule for activities so he knew when it was time to eat, play and even sleep really helped. Typically day was:
  • Wake up, toss some ball toys for him to chase around.
  • Clean his litter box.
  • Eat my breakfast.
  • More active 30-45 minute play session, using wand toys and really getting him going with it.
  • Breakfast for him (he had dry food out all the time for growing kitten energy but this was his wet meal).
  • I go to work. Leaving plenty of toys for play while I was gone (careful of one's that can have bit break off)
  • Family at home repeated a play session followed by lunch. Family has a bunch of toss toys scattered around so when gets hyper they can throw something.
  • I get home from work and immediate 30-45 minute play session. End session by tossing a few treats.
  • I do human things. I kept wand toys near every sitting surface so if he got hyper I could do some lazy play. At minimum I could put the wand between my leg and the seat and shake my leg a little to move the toy around.
  • Eat my dinner.
  • Another 30-45 minute play session.
  • Dinner for him.
  • Get ready for bed.
  • Bedtime! Absolutely no play in bed. Bed is for sleeping only. If he tried to play with me just cover myself and ignore him.
By the time he was 18 months he started calming down. He also was so locked into the routine that even now at 9 years old we follow a lighter version of it. He even will yell at me if I don't go to bed.
 

Mamanyt1953

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He sure sounds like a perfectly normal 4-month-old kitten, which means that you are absolutely doing a lot of things right. And they ALL MAKE US CRAZY in those first few months! Everyone here who has ever dealt with a kitten knows exactly what you are going through. The good news is, this won't last forever. The bad news is, it won't go away tomorrow.

However, you have been given excellent advice. I'm just going to expand a tiny bit on that last item from Kieka Kieka . Yes, bedtime is bedtime, and play stops. HOWEVER...a cat's normal cycle is "hunt, catch, kill, eat, groom, sleep." Shortly before bedtime, give him a really good play session, tire him out as much as possible (wand toys are GREAT for this), then give him a small meal, and off to bed.
 

CaseysMom

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It doesn't sound like you're doing anything wrong and it sounds like he is a perfectly normal kitten! :). They are really just bundles of endless energy at this age. I have a 9mo old kitten, and she has just started to calm down a little bit. They do go from laying on you and sleeping a lot when they are tiny to just wanting to play constantly when they get a little older. (They don't call them teenage cats for nothing!)

I love Kieka Kieka 's schedule, and it is very similar to mine with my kitten. She doesn't always like my "down" time when I'm not playing with her, but she has gotten used to it. And she's learned to entertain herself at times as well.

The only thing I would change is not letting him attack your hands. It's obviously become a habit, but he's still plenty young enough to break it. Don't initiate playing with your hands any more. If he tries to attack them, say, "No, no" (I wouldn't yell, but say it firmly) and immediately move away from him. Throw him a toy or 2 from across the room. Play with a wand toy if it is your usual time or if you have extra time. Eventually, he will understand that you are simply not going to play with him with your hands any more.

Hang in there. This stage is frustrating, I think especially with a single cat. But it really won't last forever. When he gets older and slower, you may even long for these days again.
 
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