New kitten behaviors, need advice please

purplesnurple

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okay so I've only ever adopted rescue adult cats over 1-2 years old in the past because kittens are exhausting haha. But after the loss of our beloved cat to cancer recently a rescue plopped an adorable 4 month old kitten scheduled for transport into our arms and we brought her home. This is our first kitten. Ever. She is incredibly high energy, wicked smart, confident, and a total lovebug. We are trying our very best to raise her well and ensure she grows into a balanced happy cat, but a lot of this is new to us. We play hard with her to tire her out a bit, then try to work with her such as messing her with ears, paws, teeth, etc routine cat care stuff. We've even started clicker training to give her added stimulation and challenge, which she really enjoys. She's even learning to love water (for possible future bath time) by slowly introducing it to her as a game and fun time. For most behaviors redirection seems to work as she has the attention span of a gnat.

There are a few behaviors we don't know how to tackle. I'd really appreciate any advice on how to best handle them.

1. She thinks her litter box is a toy sandbox and LOVES to play in it, even dirty. She lays in it, does the snow angel arms with her front paws, and the Tasmanian devil spin throwing litter everywhere. I've been told this is a kitten phase, but is there anything we can do to curb the behavior?

2. Her adult teeth are erupting so I get she is teething and a kitten so she chews on everything. But she loves to play bite/nip and grab onto us with her paws like she would a sibling. 90% of the time she shows good restraint and uses soft bites and claws. The times she does it too hard we give her a little hiss and she immediately stops. But is the soft nipping/clawing something we should be completely discouraging? And how would you go about doing that?

3. Nail trim training seems to freak her out. Not sure if she had a prior bad experience with it. I try to gently clip a few nails at a time when she's tired out, followed by a reward/break before trying again. It seems to work okay until we get to her back feet. Specifically her back left foot. She freaks out, cries, and starts biting/clawing. Any advice here? I need to be able to trim her nails preferably without a fight.

I'd really appreciate any advice! And if anyone has any tips on anything else we could be doing it would be greatly appreciated. Thank you! :)
 

ArtNJ

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1. I've not really had this, but understand it isn't unusual and should hopefully grow out of it. A scratching post or two with some built in hidey spots or something like that might help.

2. A hiss should work for training. Someone on hear recommends that. I tend to use a loud "no!"

3. I haven't trimmed most of my cats, but wasn't actually aware that there was any reason to do the back nails. They seem to be pretty good at taking care of the back nails by biting, and the back nails are not the nails that scratch your furniture up. I'm sure one of the pro-nail cutter people on here will educate me, but that is my first reaction -- why is this necessary?

Just reacting to something else you said, cats are very clean animals, big into self grooming and don't need baths for the most part. There are possible exceptions, but most people don't give baths, especially if you have a short or medium hair cat.
 

sivyaleah

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1. She thinks her litter box is a toy sandbox and LOVES to play in it, even dirty. She lays in it, does the snow angel arms with her front paws, and the Tasmanian devil spin throwing litter everywhere. I've been told this is a kitten phase, but is there anything we can do to curb the behavior?

In a nutshell - no sorry! :lol:
It is a phase. Laying in it gives them comfort because it smells like "them". Eventually she'll stop doing it. You can just remove her gently though when you see her do it. No need to say anything, just lift her out and bring her elsewhere.

2. Her adult teeth are erupting so I get she is teething and a kitten so she chews on everything. But she loves to play bite/nip and grab onto us with her paws like she would a sibling. 90% of the time she shows good restraint and uses soft bites and claws. The times she does it too hard we give her a little hiss and she immediately stops. But is the soft nipping/clawing something we should be completely discouraging? And how would you go about doing that?

Contrary to thought, when she does this do not move your hand AWAY from her, move TOWARDS her instead. When you move away you are reacting like prey. If you move towards her mouth firmly, she'll release her grip. Say NO firmly, hiss is good as you are doing too. Then take your hand/arm away and walk away. Eventually she'll get the message that hands are not toys. You do want to discourage this. Never play with your hands to rile her up - use a kicker type toy to do that so she does not associate your hand as a toy. Again, this will take some time but eventually it will stop as she matures. Our kitten is 8 months and still does this periodically but has gotten MUCH better about it - usually only does it now when she's rolling around on the kitchen floor for some reason.



3. Nail trim training seems to freak her out. Not sure if she had a prior bad experience with it. I try to gently clip a few nails at a time when she's tired out, followed by a reward/break before trying again. It seems to work okay until we get to her back feet. Specifically her back left foot. She freaks out, cries, and starts biting/clawing. Any advice here? I need to be able to trim her nails preferably without a fight.

Hopefully someone else will be able to help you with this one. I'm still learning! We take ours to the vet for the mani/pedi's lol. I did finally break down and get a clipper because I really should start doing this and managed to get 8 of our kittens front claws done over 2 days - but it was a struggle because she thinks everything is a toy still including being groomed. I won't even attempt the back ones! Luckily she does use her scratching posts regularly but obviously you still need to clip them too.
 

sivyaleah

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1. I've not really had this, but understand it isn't unusual and should hopefully grow out of it. A scratching post or two with some built in hidey spots or something like that might help.

2. A hiss should work for training. Someone on hear recommends that. I tend to use a loud "no!"

3. I haven't trimmed most of my cats, but wasn't actually aware that there was any reason to do the back nails. They seem to be pretty good at taking care of the back nails by biting, and the back nails are not the nails that scratch your furniture up. I'm sure one of the pro-nail cutter people on here will educate me, but that is my first reaction -- why is this necessary?

Just reacting to something else you said, cats are very clean animals, big into self grooming and don't need baths for the most part. There are possible exceptions, but most people don't give baths, especially if you have a short or medium hair cat.
On #2 - sometimes they do snag on stuff when they jump on/off furniture or you (clothing), or can curl under if the cat is older. Also, our kitten has one weird dew claw on a hind leg that needs clipping so that it won't grow wonky.
 

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Hi. It may sound like a 'no-brainer' but start clipping the nails on the back paw that bugs her most. Then, stop and wait to do the next paw(s), etc. You could find out it has nothing to do with that particular paw, it's just by the time you reach the last paw, she has "had it". She will eventually get used to you doing it, but it could take months, tbh. Give her treats after one paw, and if she tolerated it fairly well, tell her 'good girl'! If there are two people, one can distract her or even hold her while the other is clipping. Cats, that are indoors only especially, really need to have their claws trimmed regularly. I have always done Feeby's every 4 weeks. She still 'is over it' by the last claw or two, and she is 15+ yo!!!
 

Mamanyt1953

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Well...let's see now...

!. Nope. Not really. She will almost certainly outgrow it. Have you EVER seen a toddler who could resist a sandbox? Same thing going on here! At least she isn't dragging toy truck in there!

2. I'm the one who recommends a short, sharp hiss. This is why...it is what Mama Cat uses to tell her kittens that she's had enough, and what they are doing is NOT acceptable. It is Universal Cattish for "STOP THAT," they come in this world understanding that, and you get a little street cred for knowing their language. The advice about moving INTO rather than AWAY FROM is absolutely right. Resist the impulse to hand-wrestle with her, as hard as that may be. Make a firm rule with her and with everyone who interacts with her, that hands are for loving, toys are for playing.

3. I really like FeebysOwner FeebysOwner 's suggestion, to start with the difficult foot and go from there. You might try, when she's relaxed and sleepy, gently stroking that foot, the progress to very gently squeezing it to extend the claws. Do it fairly often, so that she doesn't automatically associate the extending of those claws with the unpleasant clipping. Try to make that a pleasant experience for her.
 
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purplesnurple

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Thank you so much for the advice everyone! I will try your suggestions. I didn't even think of some of them. :) And yes it's going to be really tough to discourage the adorable baby nipping she does with our hands haha. I just keep telling myself it won't be so adorable once her adult teeth are in.
 
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