My kitten is a handful... is this normal?

Ash0794

TCS Member
Thread starter
Kitten
Joined
Jul 9, 2020
Messages
5
Reaction score
4
So, I’ll be honest, I’m a first time cat owner so there is a lot that I don’t know. However, I find myself getting frustrated with my kitten (About 6 months old) that I have had for almost 5 months. He was a found baby that likely came from a nearby farm or ranch, so I don’t know a lot about him. When I decided to take him in, I did my research on kittens and was up for the challenge (my family has had a few different pets in the past, just never a cat). I know cats can be spastic, and playful, and energetic and that is only multiplied by 10 when they are kittens... however there are just some things that he does that seem pretty extreme.
First, he is RELENTLESS. During quarantine, all we do is sit around the house and play with him. The only times we leave are to maybe go to the store for an hour. He is comparable to the energizer bunny. No matter how much you play, he will keep playing for hours on end. So far, he takes a nap around 12 noon and 12 midnight but is sprinting and jumping and wrestling the rest of the time. I’ve bought so many toys you would think this house has 10 cats living here. We also take him to play outside multiple times a day where he can chase birds and bugs (safely) and he seems to like it. It seems like with all of this stimulation he should be satisfied, maybe? But he never is.
Second, the way he plays is strange to me. He has no concept of boundaries.When he gets too aggressive playing with us, there is nothing we can do to deescalate the situation other than put a physical door in between us. For example, if he bites too hard and I remove my hand he will claw and scratch for it. If I stop playing and walk away, he will attack my feet and legs. If I sit in a high chair to remove my feet and legs he will claw up sometimes hurting me in the process. I end up in my room behind a closed door where he will stick his paws under. I can’t tell if this is play or aggression or both... but yelping and hissing to indicate pain doesn’t help either because it doesn’t seem like he cares.
There have been two instances where he has bit/scratched me very deep and drawn blood... I try to be gentile and calm with him but he legitimately hurts me. We had a play date with another kitten his age to see if that may help relieve some of his energy, but he was SO aggressive with that poor kitten, it scared me too much. Do I just need to get a grip? Is there something I’m missing? I do genuinely want to know because if I can be a better owner, I want to be 100%. Also, he has had sweet moments as well, so it’s not all bad times. I love him so much and I would NEVER dream of surrendering him or kicking him to the curb. I know he is happy here, I’m just not sure I’m keeping up like I should. Lastly, mostly wanted to just talk to someone about it, and vent some of the frustration. I could just have cabin fever from quarantine as well, so virtually slap me if I deserve it. Happy to accept any and all advice! Thank you in advance :)
 

game misconduct

TCS Member
Adult Cat
Joined
May 1, 2020
Messages
106
Reaction score
140
:oops:patience your doing the right thing walking away. when he plays to rough he doesnt know any better yet. think of him like a lil kid (he is)when he gets to wound and plays to rough yell ouch and walk away ignore him for a lil bit until he calms then you can play again. as a kitten he normally would have had x amount of siblings to play with all day long along with a mommy to teach him.thats what cats do eat sleep and play. he is going to have to learn from you remember he doesnt know any better. it will take time i have a a cat that took two years and change to teach how to be nice when playing only this past month did she not she claws or teeth while i was playing with her . its a work in progress still dont give up put n the patience you are and that kitten will reward you with its love and trust along with plenty of laughs and good times as it grows. observe him and you will start to know when he is to wound up to play walk away for a lil let him calm down. then play.also i hope you have or plan to get him snipped or do so soon after vet check etc. along with micro chipped and collar he might take off to find a female once he is old enough. since you already take him outside to play he wont be to scared of the outside world but he wont know the dangers of it. hope this helps glad you gave the lil guy a home




0
 

AshwinR

TCS Member
Young Cat
Joined
Jul 7, 2020
Messages
26
Reaction score
16
The problem with very young kittens is that when they leave their mom and litter mates to early, they don't learn boundries, amoung a lot of things. Because he was that young, you need to teach him how to behave. If he Bites, so No and walk away. This will signal him that it's not ok.
 

jefferd18

Ms. Jeff's Legacy
Top Cat
Joined
Jul 2, 2019
Messages
1,640
Reaction score
794
You got him at one month of age? It sounds like he wasn't with his mother or litter-mates long enough to know how to play properly. If he had gotten too rough with one of them they would have swatted him or simply walked away- thus ending playtime.

I know you said that you have bought toys for him but do you use your hands to play with him?

Try to distract him when he gets too rough by shaking a can of coins, or perhaps giving him a small stuff animal to play with. And if he gets too obnoxious, do what his siblings would do- walk away for awhile. Nobody wants to ignored.
 

Columbine

Advisor
Staff Member
Advisor
Joined
Feb 27, 2015
Messages
12,882
Reaction score
6,050
Location
The kitty playground
Hi A Ash0794 , and welcome to TCS :hithere::welcomesign:

I'm so sorry you're having these issues with your boy. It sounds like he was simply separated from his mother and siblings too young. Kittens don't really start learning social skills until they're 5 weeks old, or feline boundaries until they're 6-7 weeks old. Your kitten missed out on so many crucial stages because he didn't have other cats to teach him what was and wasn't acceptable behaviour. Young kittens learn manners from their mama and siblings far more than they do from humans, and a single kitten raised on its own will very often become something of a brat.
How Old Is My Kitten? [An Illustrated Guide]

Its important to stress that none of this is your fault, or anything you did wrong. Its just very, very hard to give a single kitten the same kind of constant feedback that they'd get from mama cat and other kittens. You're a wonderful pet parent to your boy, and you're absolutely giving him plenty of exercise and stimulation. Its just that he has no manners or boundaries, and unfortunately happens to have a very high energy/play drive. Having said that, the 'energiser bunny' side of things is VERY normal for a 6 month old kitten. 6 months to a year is their adolescent phase. They'll typically be their most active at this age, and also prone to testing every boundary they have. My boys were absolute terrors at this stage, and they were always causing trouble. One of them even had my bedroom curtain rail off the wall three separate times, and had big pictures off the walls and broke their glass. So you're most definitely not alone in these issues!

The key here is calm, consistent boundaries, though I know that's far easier said than done. It sounds like you're dealing with a lot of play aggression rather than serious aggression (not to minimise the injuries you've had at all, I just mean the intent behind them). I've never dealt with an only kitten, but I believe Kieka Kieka has, so she may have some more specific pointers for you.

I'd try to create a play routine with your boy. Play with him until he's as worn out as he gets. I find using something like Da Bird (or any other pole and line type toy) is the best way to get them leaping and running, so drains energy out the fastest. Don't worry if he starts panting - that's what you want to see in this instance (panting during a heavy play session is normal for young, healthy cats). Once he's as played out as he's going to get, give him a meaty treat or snack. This replicates the end of the 'hunt' and is an easy way to signal the end of a play session. Stick to toys that keep you well out of reach of his paws and mouth to minimise the chances of being clawed or bitten.
Playing With Your Cat: 10 Things You Need To Know

I'd consider keeping a laser pointer on you at all times, too, so you have a way to redirect him away from your ankles when he's 'hunting' you. Keep up with squeaking or yelping in pain when he does get you, to reinforce that that behaviour is unacceptable. I know it's counterintuitive, but pushing into a bite rather than pulling away from it can help teach the cat to let go of you. Pulling away/fighting is what prey would do, and its vital that you act the opposite way that prey would, especially as he has such a high prey/hunt drive.


Consider, too, other ways to keep your boy mentally and physically occupied. Interactive toys can be helpful (things like ball tracks and some stand alone laser toys), as can food puzzle toys. More cat furniture to give him more height and levels to explore can help too. You can even create obstacle courses to lead him around and over with a wand toy. (my guys will follow a feather wand just about anywhere!)
Bored Cat? What Cat Owners Need To Know (including 10 Actionable Tips)

I hope at least some of this helps. You're not alone, and it is possible to work through this.
 

Kieka

Snowshoe Servant
Staff Member
Forum Helper
Joined
Sep 6, 2016
Messages
9,505
Reaction score
13,629
Location
Southern California
Hyperactive kitten combined with being a solo orphan? Sounds about right. My boy was the exact same and required near constant interaction for the first year. You are dealing with a little bit hyper kitten, little bit orphan neediness, a little bit of play aggression, and a little bit of missing cat 101.

  1. Definitely keep up the making noise if he attacks humans. If you feel tooth or claw of any degree becomes the world's best worst actor. You want the kitten to think humans are fragile and shatter at the slightest rough touch. Make enough sound to get attention then pointedly ignore for a five count. Then act like nothing happened. Kittens have very short attention so they need immediate reaction and "punishment" (yes, ignoring is kitten punishment) but it doesn't have to last long. For impact, you have to do it every single time with consistency and your kitten will end up being an adult who never goes after bare skin ever.
  2. Routine, routine, routine. Your kitten needs a solid routine every single say. I know it can be annoying or boring but going to bed at the same time for a few months even on weekends. Doing the same thing in the same order really helps set a rhythm for your home and kitten to know what and when things happen. When your kitten becomes an adult you can break routine sometimes but as a kitten it really helps. Wake up, quick play session before breakfast, then do your morning things while the kitten takes a break. Play followed by food is a natural triggers for cats to relax and calm down for at least a little. If you leave for work another quick play session before leaving with a treat before leaving. When you get home rinse and repeat. Before bed, incorporate a play session that absolutely tires your kitten out. Links before bed sessions would last 2 hours sometimes before he was laid out on the floor panting (I would sit and wave wands all over, toss toys, and sometimes hide around corners and play peek a bo). Once the kitten recovers a little, offer dinner while you do your bed time routine. Then go to bed and ignore any attempts to play after you are in bed.
  3. Consistency- Set boundaries, set expectations and keeping it defined helps enforce the rules and let your kitten learn the rules. You are the parent basically and have to set known reactions to actions. Kitten uses claws, you ignore. You go to bed, human play time ends.
 

Talien

TCS Member
Top Cat
Joined
Oct 10, 2018
Messages
1,574
Reaction score
3,537
Location
Michigan
Yeah.....like others have said, it's difficult dealing with a young Kitten like that who was separated from mom+siblings way too soon. If you're not sure you can handle him (and there's no shame in that especially being your first Cat) see if you can foster a slightly older Cat, maybe 1-2 years old, and let the other Cat help teach him. If it works out and they become best friends then you'd also have the option of adopting the other Cat as a permanent playmate.
 
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #9

Ash0794

TCS Member
Thread starter
Kitten
Joined
Jul 9, 2020
Messages
5
Reaction score
4
Yeah.....like others have said, it's difficult dealing with a young Kitten like that who was separated from mom+siblings way too soon. If you're not sure you can handle him (and there's no shame in that especially being your first Cat) see if you can foster a slightly older Cat, maybe 1-2 years old, and let the other Cat help teach him. If it works out and they become best friends then you'd also have the option of adopting the other Cat as a permanent playmate.
I like that idea! I’ll look into foster options... I’ve never considered it before but would be open to it.
 
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #10

Ash0794

TCS Member
Thread starter
Kitten
Joined
Jul 9, 2020
Messages
5
Reaction score
4
Thank you thank you! I appreciate the tips so much, there’s only so much “googling” I can do before I get overwhelmed. It’s good to hear from actual people!
 

JulieHarr

TCS Member
Young Cat
Joined
Jun 22, 2020
Messages
44
Reaction score
125
The second to last cat I got as a kitten about 8 weeks. I trained him using a fly swatter. When he did something destructive or try to nip me I would slap the fly swatter down next to him and say no. He is 8 now and still scared of the fly swatter. 😁

The last cat I received, Nubi was about 6 mths old. He is now 2 and stubborn and full of himself. I tried the same with him, but he is not afraid of anything! He attacked the fly swatter and chews it. He tries my patience so I see him as a teacher, teaching me to be more patient. 🙄
 

Willowy

TCS Member
Top Cat
Joined
Mar 1, 2009
Messages
26,868
Reaction score
19,296
Location
South Dakota
He does need to be neutered, for lots of reasons, but, no, neutering doesn't turn cats into pillows or anything like that. It can reduce some hormone-driven aggressive behaviors but not regular play aggression.

The main problem is that he wasn't with his mom and siblings long enough to learn all his cat manners. So I think the best option, if at all possible, is to adopt a slightly older (but still young) male cat as a friend for him. One that's fairly laid-back but also active enough to keep up with him. And, of course, one that grew up with a large family so he learned all his proper cat manners.
 

mekkababble

TCS Member
Young Cat
Joined
Jun 11, 2018
Messages
74
Reaction score
137
Location
North Carolina
There have been two instances where he has bit/scratched me very deep and drawn blood... I try to be gentile and calm with him but he legitimately hurts me. We had a play date with another kitten his age to see if that may help relieve some of his energy, but he was SO aggressive with that poor kitten, it scared me too much
Do you trim his nails? That's step one for reducing injuries to you and may hinder his ability to literally climb you. It's a world of difference being raked with a clipped nail than a fully sharp one. For your long term sanity, you want to get him used to manicures now so he'll settle into them as an adult :p

Regarding playdates with other kittens... if both kittens are up for it, the best toy for a kitten is another kitten. It can look rough, but it often doesn't turn into real fighting. It's an actual fight if one is clearly trying to disengage (like running, yelping) or there are actual injuries. There are a number of articles to help distinguish the difference between playing and fighting- it can hard!
 

Kieka

Snowshoe Servant
Staff Member
Forum Helper
Joined
Sep 6, 2016
Messages
9,505
Reaction score
13,629
Location
Southern California
Neutering can help with some behaviors that start when they are fully mature (spraying or chasing after females for example). It does work better as a preventative as a cat who starts spraying won't always stop after neutering. Neutering also has some health benefits like preventing some cancers. Admittedly slightly less health benefit then females but having lost an animal to reproductive cancer that neutering could have prevented totally worth it in my opinion.

I'd agree that getting a well adjusted kitten to be a playmate and model of behavior can help. My boy got a little sister when he was a year old that helped me greatly. Gave him an outlet that wasn't human and totally took over his attention until she got older.
 
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #18

Ash0794

TCS Member
Thread starter
Kitten
Joined
Jul 9, 2020
Messages
5
Reaction score
4
Update! Thank you all again for the wonderful advice!! I implemented a few methods (solidifying a routine has helped a ton and the laser pointer is the best $5 I’ve ever spent)!! And we actually did follow through with adopting another similarly aged cat. The foster situation in my city is tricky because of COVID 19 but we wanted to give him a playmate who knows how to play and can potentially bond with him. We worked with the local shelter to match their personalities and chose a happy orange baby, Leo, with lots of socialization skills. We’re going on 10 days of the introduction process, and they are now starting to cohabitate the space. It has gone incredibly well, and I can tell DJ is learning a lot from his new brother. Already he is gentler with me, he almost never bites humans anymore, and he is an all around calmer cat.
I may make another thread to ensure the introduction process continues to go smoothly etc because that’s obviously a separate thing, but I can totally see the difference in him like night and day. He’s a high energy cat that needed a little more TLC and attention. He’s an amazing cat, and I am hoping things are only going to get better from here :yess:
F8FF850D-4611-4C75-BE48-E5DD630E0A1C.jpeg
 
Top