So you just brought home your new kitty, and much to your surprise he’s attacking your hands and pouncing on your feet. At first it was cute, but now it hurts! So what can you do? The first thing you should do is stop encouraging aggressive behavior. This behavior in a kitten can lead to aggression as the kitten grows into an adult cat. You should never intentionally encourage your cat to play with your hands or feet. If your kitten is biting your hands, refocus the behavior on cat toys. Most kittens love toys so provide a variety. You can even rotate them so old toys are forgotten then reintroduced. Also if your kitten or cat is fearful, provide safe hiding places where he can get away from things he fears. For example, a laundry room with a baby gate the cat can get over, but the dog cannot. Other examples include shelves, ledges, or cat furniture where your cat can view what’s going on from a safe distance.
The next thing you can do is reward good behavior – like sitting quietly at your feet. If you feed your cat meals instead of letting him graze all day, you can begin to use meals as a reward for good behavior. So in the morning when your cat is waiting for his meal, wait until he politely comes and sits. When first training this, reward as soon as your cat sits. Reward the behavior (sitting in this case) you want multiple times during each meal. So as long as he’s sitting politely, he intermittently gets treats. Stop feeding him, if he reaches to grab his food or meows. Once your cat politely sits every time he sees you get his food ready, you can add a cue word (i.e., “sit”) to the behavior. In this way you can shape your cats behavior. Reward good behavior. Ignore bad behavior.
Even an old cat can learn new tricks. There are many good books and resources available for training animals. Check your local library for books on training or drop by and talk to us.