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Do Kittens Grow Out of Biting & Scratching Behaviors? Feline Facts & FAQs

Nicole Cosgrove Profile Picture

By Nicole Cosgrove

 

kitten chewing finger

Kittens are adorable and lovable… until they make you bleed from their annoying biting and scratching. Even though most kittens do not intend any harm or aggression from their behavior, it certainly is annoying, especially if they continue as they get bigger.

Luckily, most kittens grow out of biting and scratching behaviors, especially if you take precautions early in their life. Thankfully, it usually stops by the time they are about 1 year old, but it should happen sooner than this, between 2 weeks and 4 months. To learn more about when kittens outgrow this annoying behavior and what you can do about it, keep reading.

Will Kittens Outgrow Biting & Scratching?

Yes. Kittens often outgrow biting and scratching, but they might not completely outgrow it if they’re not trained properly. In other words, if you do not teach your kitten that the behavior is bad, they may grow into cats who continue playing in such a rough manner. So, it’s important to train your kitten from an early age to ensure you get an adult cat who knows how to play and behave properly.

Kitten playfully biting mother's ear
Image Credit: TaniaVdB, Pixabay

Why Do Kittens Bite & Scratch?

Much like toddlers, kittens explore their world with their mouths. As a result, kittens often bite to play or experience their world.

More so, kittens teethe, resulting in non-aggressive bites. During the teething phase, you can easily expect a kitten to accidentally bite you, even if it is not out of aggression or even playfulness.

Similarly, kittens accidentally scratch because they don’t have full control over their movements and are rambunctious. Despite the fact most kittens are not aggressive, it is incredibly common for kitten owners to have scratches all over their body.

As most kittens age, their biting and scratching behaviors decrease. On the one hand, the cats don’t need to explore with their mouths as much and there is no need to teethe. On the other hand, cats have more control over their mouths and paws, resulting in less accidental injuries.

When Do Kittens Stop Biting?

Because the teething phase in cats is much shorter than in toddlers, you can expect most kittens to stop biting by the time they are one year old.

Most biting behavior happens when the kitten is 2 weeks old and 4 months old. During these two periods, the kitten is teething most. Once both teething periods are completed, the kitten primarily stops biting. Once again, you can expect this to happen by the time your kitten is one year old.

Of course, your kitten or cat can still bite if provoked, but most harmless biting will stop. Occasionally, some adult cats may play by nibbling on you or putting your hand in their mouths, but they rarely bite down.

kitten playing
Image Credit: Piqsels

Top 3 Ways to Teach Your Kitten Not to Bite or Scratch

As we mentioned above, it’s important to train your kitten not to bite or scratch from an early age. Even though most kittens outgrow this behavior, some kittens learn that it can get them attention or associate it with play time.

By discouraging the behavior, your kitten will not bite or scratch as a cat, unless provoked, of course. Here are some basic tips for teaching her kitten not to bite or scratch:

1. Don’t Encourage the Behavior

This may sound obvious, but make sure not to encourage the behavior. If you continue playing with the kitten whenever they bite or scratch, they will associate the behavior with playtime. Thus, the kitten will likely grow up biting and scratching as a form of play.

Instead, stop playing with the cat immediately after they scratch or bite. This teaches the kitten that it will not be rewarded for this sort of behavior. You can also say no if you want, but make sure not to be too harsh since the kitten doesn’t know any better.


2. Provide Toys and Scratching Posts

While punishing the bad behavior by halting attention, encourage good behavior by providing the kitten toys and scratching posts to play with instead. Whenever the kitten has some chew toys and scratching posts, they can get out their energy and needs in a healthier way.

Not only will the toys and scratching posts provide you relief from bites and scratches, but they also help to prevent your furniture, shoes, and other items from being destroyed in the process.

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3. Don’t Be Mean or Abusive

Even though you should not encourage this bad behavior, don’t be mean or abusive to the kitten. The kitten is not being aggressive or intentionally acting badly. Instead, they’re acting by their nature. You wouldn’t hit a toddler for sucking on your finger. So, don’t hit a kitten for the same offense.

Though you certainly can reprimand the cat, do so gently and appropriately. If you act too harshly or aggressively, the kitten will become afraid of you and start biting and scratching as a form of defense or aggression. This is the last thing you want from your kitten.

Final Thoughts

We know that kitten biting and scratching is downright annoying, despite their adorableness. Be patient and train your kitten that such behavior is wrong by not reinforcing it and providing alternative tools for them to get their energy out on. At the same time, do not be abusive. Instead, be patient and kind to your kitten as it grows and learns about the world.

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Featured Image Credit: XINN, Shutterstock

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