Image of kitten holding onto human's arm and biting it with the name of the post Why Your Kitten Is Biting & How To Stop It For Good

Why Your Kitten Is Biting You & How To Stop Them For Good

We all know how ridiculously adorable kittens are. Everyone wants one, and when you finally get one you just want to cuddle the bejesus out of them, and never let go!

Unfortunately, they have other plans. Plans that involve being completely insane, keeping you up at night, grabbing onto your hands and feet, and biting so hard that you feel like you might have to use brute force just to get them off.

And then… Even when you see them just a few minutes after they’ve tried to gnaw your thumb off, you have the same urge to just kiss their little face off.

I get it! It’s a vicious cycle.

But what if I told you that kitten-hood is a critical, make or break time during a cat’s development, when they either learn that biting is acceptable, or not acceptable? And that you are the one in control of their future behavior.

Why Do Kittens Bite?

First, I must say that biting behaviors in kittens are completely normal. Biting and playing is an integral part of their development, and it isn’t so much about stopping them from biting. It’s about stopping them from biting you. There are a few typical reasons why kittens are so prone to biting.

Social Development

Between the ages of 7 and 14 weeks (approximately) kittens are in the developmental stage that is focused mainly around play. Playing with littermates helps a kitten develop bite inhibition, physical coordination, and boundaries. This is also when the kitten begins to learn how to be a cat, which can only be done through observing other cats.

The Issue With Only Having One Kitten

According to this article by the humane society, “Kittens orphaned or separated from their mother and/or littermates too early often fail to develop appropriate “social skills,” such as learning how to send and receive signals, what an “inhibited bite” (acceptable mouthing pressure) means, how far to go in play-wrestling and so forth.”


So, basically… If you can adopt two kittens together, rather than just one, I highly recommend it! You may think that having 2 kittens would be way more work, but it actually isn’t!

Yes, you will have to buy twice the food. But kittens require SO much attention that adopting them in pairs actually means less work for you. They will wrestle and beat each other up most of the day, and they are less likely to develop behavior issues down the line. Without another kitten, you become the target for all that sporadic energy and biting.

Contrary to popular belief, cats are also very social beings, and they like the company of other cats. Adopting more than one kitten will ensure that they don’t get lonely as they grow older. And as a bonus, kittens typically get along right away. Whereas, adult cats are much harder to introduce to each other.


Teething typically starts when your kitten is around 3-4 months of age. This is when their baby teeth fall out, and their adult teeth start coming in. (Kittens commonly have all their adult teeth by the time they are 6 months old.)

Teething doesn’t usually cause too much discomfort for kittens, but it can certainly cause them to chew more in order to ease the pain and irritation.

Note: It’s important to make sure you kitten-proof your home, so that they don’t end up chewing on electrical cords, or other dangerous household items! Check out this article on Kitten-Proofing to learn how: How To Kitten-Proof Your Home

A Kitten Biting Is Completely Normal, But You Need To Nip It In The Bud

Stop Doing These 3 Things, Immediately!

1) Using Your Hands As Toys

Never ever do this. Your kitten may be cute now, and it may be hard to resist the urge to move your fingers around to get him to play, or try to tickle him.

But when he’s got his adult teeth and a strong jaw, it’s not going to be so cute. Heck, it may have stopped being cute a few weeks ago when he started to bite harder and harder.


2) Moving Hands & Feet Around Under the Blanket, or Sheet to Get Them to Play

It may be under the blanket, but you’re still teaching them the same thing! You’re teaching your crazy, biting kitten that hands and feet are toys.

3) Over-Petting

completely understand how much you want to pet your adorable, fuzzy little kitten. Trust me, if anyone knows, it’s me! But kittens are tiny little tigers bursting at the seams with unregulated energy. They’re up just as quickly as they’re down, and they can be enjoying getting pet just as quickly as they’re biting your hand.

Remember how I talked about them learning boundaries? This is a two way street, love. And I know it’s tough.

The key is to control your urges to smother, and keep a very close eye on body language. (More on body language in a moment.) Your kitten will grow out of this phase of being a little lunatic, and they will calm down a lot as they get older, I promise. But for now, I highly suggest keeping petting to a minimum, and only doing it when they’re very calm.

**Another thing you can do is pet gently while you give them a treat, or they are focused on something else positive. This will help them to associate petting with positive things.**

4) Don’t Just Let Your Kitten Bite

The more you let them do it, the more they will do it. Plain and simple.

Make sure every person in the household is on the same page. This is very important. No teasing or playing with hands.

If You Keep Doing These Things…

So, here’s the thing. When you let, or even encourage a kitten to play with your hands, feet, etc, you are setting them up for failure, and you’re setting yourself up for pain. You are essentially training them to bite you, then you’re angry at them buuuuut… Let’s be honest, is it really their fault?


This doesn’t mean that they’ll stop biting you immediately. This is a gradual process, and kittens just go through a phase of biting. But it’s how you react that dictates their future behavior.

So, You Know What Not To Do. What The Heck Do You Do?

1) Go Limp

If you try to pull your hand away, they will typically just latch on harder (just like they would if their prey was trying to get away from them.) If you just let your hand go limp, they’re likely to loosen their grip a bit, and you can quickly pull it away.

2) Make An “I’m In Pain!” Sound

Don’t yell or get angry, just make a high pitched “oww!” or “yeoww!” sound as soon as they bite you. Timing is very important. This is just meant to startle them, and help them associate the sound with the bite.

3) Either Redirect to a Toy, or Walk Away (or Both!)

Redirecting is when you change the focus of the biting behavior from your hand (or whatever they’re gnawing on!) to a toy. This is highly effective, and teaches your kitten that the toy is the the appropriate outlet for biting, not you.

*In the toys section toward the end of this article, I go into detail on how to use specific toys for redirecting biting behaviors.

Walking Away is what mama cat would do when her kitten bites her too hard. She literally just goes “nope”, gets up and walks away. This is an effective way to start to teach your kitten bite inhibition. It sets boundaries, and lets them know it won’t be tolerated. You can do this anytime your kitten starts biting you.

Combine Redirecting and Walking Away: You can really do this in either order. For me, it just depends on whether or not I have a toy close enough by to redirect immediately. If there isn’t a toy within reach, I walk away, go get a toy, and redirect their attention to it.

4) Play With Your Kitten!

Play, play, play!!! Get that energy out in a healthy, and productive way. You can never play with your kitten too much. The best way to play is by using an interactive wand toy. But they also love to chase toys when you throw them. More on this down below!

kitten biting post image of kitten playing with feather wand toy

5) Get to Know Your Kitten, and Their Body Language

As your kitten grows up, their personality, preferences, and body language will become more consistent. It’s up to you to get to know how they like to be pet, held, and interacted with.

Always being aware of what they’re communicating through body language can stop you from getting bitten, scratched, and the like.

I’ll be going into a lot of detail about this in a an article soon, but some great tell-tale signs that they’ve had enough physical stimulation are:

  • Flicking, and Eventual Swishing of the Tail
  • Twitching of the Back
  • Going From Calm to Alert
  • Dilated Pupils
  • Ear Movement

*This is going to be harder to determine in a kitten. They typically become over-stimulated very quickly. So, less is more!

6) Routine

Creating a routine for your cat is something I always recommend doing. I’m not going to get very in-depth here, because I’m going to be dedicating an entire article to it very soon (I’ll link it here when I do). But I will briefly explain what I mean.

The wild cat routine looks like this; hunt, catch, kill, eat, sleep, repeat.

You can implement this in your cat’s life by trading hunt, catch, kill with play. In a cat’s mind, they are one and the same.

When you implement a consistent routine in your cat’s life, this will naturally bring their energy up, and then back down in a consistent way. This creates predictability (something cats love and thrive on) and comfort for everyone involved. It also majorly helps curb those predatory behaviors that cause cats to bite and attack humans and other cats.

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Quick Tip!

Clip their nails! When they latch on, like they love to do, if their nails are not clipped they are definitely going to do some damage, even make you bleed. I trim my cats’ nails once every two weeks, but you may need to do it more often with a kitten. Their nails grow extra quickly.

Having mentioned this, I feel obligated to also say please do not declaw your cat or kitten. Ever. I’m not going to get into too much detail here, but it is not an extreme manicure. It is amputation of the first knuckle, and can cause a multitude of physical and behavioral issues for your cat for life.

kitten biting post, image of woman trimming cat's nails

Must-Have Toys For Your Biting Kitten!


There is no way I could live without kickers in my house! All four of my cats absolutely love them (adults and kittens alike). They beat the crap out of them constantly. Sometimes I make them, and sometimes I buy them.

What to look for in a kicker for a kitten…

Keep in mind, cats don’t typically respond to catnip until they’re at least 3 months old (two of mine took until they were around a year). So, if you’re looking for a kicker specifically for a kitten:

  • Don’t worry about catnip, they’re most likely not going to react to it.
  • Don’t get one too big for your little guy or girl. It can be the length of them, maybe even a bit longer. But if it’s too long, or wide especially, they’re not going to be able to use it.
  • Make sure it’s tough enough for little razor teeth. (I’m not going to lie, even if you get a tough one, they’ll probably still chew through it…)

The Coveted Kickers In My House

This kicker is a bit short, but very beloved!

This package has a nice mix of mini kickers, and 9″ kickers. Odds are, your little one will like both sizes, especially as they grow like a little weed! This will provide them with a nice variety.

How I Use Kickers For Redirecting

There are a few ways you can redirect your kitten with a kicker.

  • If a kicker is within reach when your kitten starts biting you, just grab it and try to stuff it in between them and whatever part of you they’re biting. That or just gently tap them with it until start biting it instead of you.
  • You can toss it, and see if they’ll run after it. Be sure to get their attention first. My kitten, Jasper, likes to try and catch it, but I have to pretend I’m going to toss it up in the air a couple of times before I actually do it. This gets him psyched up and ready to catch it.

Wand Toys

No cat parent should EVER be without a wand toy. I’m serious, if I had to pick only one toy for every cat house household, this would be it.

The issue with feathers…

So, typically I recommend a wand toy with a feather attachment. Buuuuut… Kittens are nuts. They chew on and eat the feathers. (My kitten, Jasper, is the worst. He catches it once, drags it to a safe spot, and chews on it relentlessly while growling and refusing to let go.)

This can be both annoying, and dangerous. So it’s best to avoid feathers until they get a bit older!

What I recommend, instead:

This toy is amazing. Your kitten will be obsessed!

How To Use Wand Toys For Redirecting

It’s super simple, just move the toy that is attached to the rod away from you, or whatever else you want your kitten to stop messing with. These toys are completely irresistible to kittens!

Jingly Rolling Balls

I think most cat parents have a few of these lying around. They don’t usually appeal to older cats too much, but kittens love them. If you don’t have any of these, do yourself a favor and pick some up.

How To Use For Redirecting

These jingly (or crinkly!) balls are great for redirecting your kitten’s attention. All you have to do is roll it away from you! Every kitten I’ve met will go chasing after it, especially if they’re already in play mode.
If you want to go all out (which I always suggest! What can I say…?) Get this bundle that includes all kinds of balls and little toys, plus a tunnel. In my experience, tunnels are absolutely irresistible to kittens. Adult cats tend to love them, too!
If you want to just go with the jingly balls (which is fine too!) these are a great pick.

Bonus Toys That Kittens Love!

Chew Sticks/Dental Toys

All of my kitties love these sticks. My two girls rub their faces all over them, and my kitten and other boy chew them right up.

Puzzle Toys

Puzzle toys can be such a lifesaver! They are amazing at keeping cats and kittens occupied, and stimulating their mind, which is super important!

Here are a couple of my favorites (and by that I mean my cats’ favorites… I swear, I’m not the one playing with them):

Cat Dancer

This toy can mimic the movements of a fly or grasshopper, depending on how you use it. My kitten goes insane for this toy, and it’s super inexpensive. I have 3 or 4 of them!

If you would like to learn more about playing with your cat, check out this article: What Every Cat Parent Needs To Know About Playing With Their Cat

Stop Your Kitten From Biting For Good!

Putting up with your kitten biting you all the time can be so frustrating. I genuinely understand how it feels when your sweet, adorable little fuzz ball ends up being a hyper little biting machine! But you (and the other people in your home!) are the only ones who have the ability to stop your biting kitten from becoming a biting adult! 

Just implement these strategies, and you’ll surely be setting your little feline up for success! 🙂

If you’re dealing with frustrating cat behavior problems, and need someone to create a custom behavior plan for your cat (and hold your hand the entire time you’re implementing it!), please check out my cat behavior services, here!

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