Correct the Bad Behavior while Reinforcing Correct Human Interactions

Question:
My kitten is 10 weeks old and is constantly biting and scratching my family’s hands and feet. How we can solve this?

Dr. Nichol:
Well, you could wear mittens and boots all summer but then your kitten would be in charge. Next thing you know he’ll embark on a life of crime and politics.  Take control now.

Jack the Ripper may seem like a force of nature but he’s really just an active young hellion with a strong need for social contact. In the absence of his mother and siblings you folks have become his playmates. This unfortunate scenario is unlikely in feline families that stay together until the kids reach 14-16 weeks, the natural time frame for learning healthy boundaries. Your boy’s rough play is actually age-appropriate. He just needs suitable outlets for his youthful ambitions to maim and kill.

To make it simple for this rapscallion to sow mischief and mayhem on nonhuman victims you can make your home a wonderland of cat-friendly amusements (find Feline Environmental Enrichments at drjeffnichol.com). What if he still occasionally treats you as his surrogate rodents? With your trusty can of compressed air at the ready, wait quietly as the would-be ninja lurks quietly in the shadows, stalking his prey (you). You too will move without a sound as you bring your air blaster into position. Remain fully detached as you squeeze off a quick round and then holster your weapon. Repeat, without fanfare, hundreds of times.

Remember to advance your trust-based friendship with the kid. Corrections should not be about you but that @#*!% canned air. Reinforce Jack’s gentle affection with treats and praise. It’s fine to play hunt and pounce games with him but only with remote toys like feathers-on-a-stick. Human anatomy must be for love and respect only.
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Cat Behavior Class
Do your cats fight and bite? Do they believe your home is their bathroom? Are they de-upholstering your furniture? I’ll address any behaviors that damage your feline relationships in my seminar at the Animal Humane Adoption Center, 9132 Montgomery Blvd. NE on Monday July 15 from 6-9 PM. Cost: $40. Go to facebook.com/drjeffnichol or call 792-5131 to register. Bring plenty of questions. I’ll give individual help.

Dr. Jeff Nichol treats behavior disorders at the Veterinary Specialty Centers in Albuquerque and Santa Fe (505-792-5131). He cares for the medical needs of pets at the Petroglyph Animal Hospital in Albuquerque (898-8874). Question? Post it on facebook.com/drjeffnichol or by US Mail to 4000 Montgomery Blvd NE, Albuq, NM 87109. Unpublished questions may not be answered individually.