Hi my new kitten is more lively than any kitten I've owned or even seen! She climbs my legs (with claws), and most disturbing she's chewing on paper! She has lots of toys, and I make a point of having play time with her when I get up in the morning and when I get back from work. I leave out dry kitten food for her (she's eating well) and water. I brought her home she was just over 2 mons old. I have no other pets. My legs are covered in scratches from her jumping on my legs and I just can't take it any more! What can I do to curb her behaviours?
The behaviors that you describe are all typical kitten play and normal exploratory behaviors. That said, this does not mean that they are not a bit annoying or that we cannot intervene to redirect your kitten while still meeting her behavioral needs! Here are a few tips that may be of help:
1. Provide a variety of toy types: You mention having lots of toys for your kitten, but do not say what types of toys you have for her. Kitten play is primarily predatory in nature, and so kittens love toys that move erratically and also small plush toys that they can grasp with their feet, rake with their paws and “eviscerate”. Many cats also bite these toys, simulating their normal prey kill bite. (Your kittens paper eating is probably an expression of this need). So, if you do not yet have a variety of toys that include both toys that move (that you manipulate) and plush toys, explore your local pet supply store and select a few additional toys.
2. Rotate toys: Cats respond very positively to novelty and become bored with toys that they have available at all times. So, once you have your group of different toys, select just a few and provide those to her, reserving others back. Rotate these every few days and you should see a nice increase in her interest level.
3. Home Alone: Chances are, your kitten is sleeping a lot when you are away and so has LOTS of energy to expend (on you!) when you are at home. Food delivery toys work well with some, but not all cats. Purchase one of these and fill it with her dry food. If your kitten likes this type of toy, she can play with the toy while you are away. You may also want to reserve one or two toys (that are safe for her to use when not supervised, of course) that become your “home alone” signal. These, plus the food delivery toy, only come out when you are leaving and are picked up when you come home.
4. Climbing Structures: The reason you little gal is climbing on you is because this is a normal way for cats to explore. If you do not yet have one or more “kitty condos” or other form of climbing structure for your kitten, either buy or create one for her. Something as simple as providing a bed or platform in a window is often sufficient for many cats, although having something that they can actually climb (carpet covered) is preferred.
5. Outdoor Activities: There are great harnesses for cats available today. Train your kitten to a harness and take her outdoors for mental and physical exercise. Although it is of course safest to keep cats indoors, there is no doubt that the indoor environment provides limited mental and physical stimulation. Supervised outdoor activities are a great way to expend energy, and allow your kitten to explore and habituate to new environments.
6. Scheduled play times: Last, you mention that you play often with your kitten – this is wonderful! I would just suggest that you schedule 3 or 4 daily play sessions, preferably around the same time each day. During these times, bring out a novel toy to play with her – this can be a chase toy or a small toy that she can chase and even retrieve. Walks outdoors are great too. Put the toy away after the session, and make sure that she gets your undivided attention during these times. Providing regular sessions can help her to establish a daily routine, and helps to prevent her using you as her play toy whenever she feels the need. Once you have this schedule, simply walk away from her whenever she behaves inappropriately (climbing, etc.). It is also helpful to preemptively direct her to her toys or climbing structure BEFORE she uses you as her climbing structure.
I hope these tips are helpful to you – keep in mind that you have a lively little kitten, who will soon grow into a wonderful adult cat who you have as your companion for many years.
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