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I'll try to give as much information as possible to help understand what's going on.  
My husband and I adopted a kitten from a shelter about 3 weeks ago.  She is probably a little over two months old, which makes me suspect that she hasn't spent much time with litter mates or her mother as she should have. All of that might explain the following behavior:

She is sweet as can be and almost constantly purring.  She constantly runs around our the house. She rarely wants to be in a different room from us, with the exception of bathroom and food.  The problem is when she is being all purring and rubbing around us, she starts nipping at our faces, finger, and feet.  We usually immediately put her down on the floor and tell her no.  We tried the spray bottle for awhile, but you could tell she thought it was a fun game. (She's recently discovered the shower and will hop in while the water is running.  It's obvious she's not afraid of water.)

We don't mind so much the nips and scratches during the day as much as the hassle at night.  Usually we have been trying to let her in before we head to asleep.  She'll usually be playing around before we sleep, but soon after the lights are out she wants to cuddle.  We don't mind the idea of it, it's just that she tend to latch on to our heads with claws and teeth or she swats at our faces.  We tried dropping her to the floor an telling her no.  It didn't work.  She'd be back up in just a few moments doing the exact same thing.  

At this point, whenever she starts attacking us at night we take her into a room and shut the door for the night. Our bedroom is up a flight of stairs with no door.  It may be that we just need to block her from coming in our room.  Yet, she still continues the behavior even we are awake.  

We would like to correct her behavior early on to avoid any worsening of problems.


The behavior you are experiencing is very normal in young kittens that have not been socialized to people. If you saw very young kittens nursing, you would see lots of biting/scratching behaviors with respect to their siblings.  Cats have very, very tough skins, and, so show affection and play with lots of scratching/biting behaviors. So, what you are experiencing is some pretty rough expressions of affection.

Negative reinforcement, i.e. discipline, rarely works on cats,especially kittens.  What you are doing by putting her on the floor when she begins these behaviors is a correct approach as far as it goes.  Giving the ages and timeline you have quoted, I am not sure this kitten was properly weaned, let alone socialized.

So, here are a couple of things you can try.  Establish a holding, stroking, soft speaking "game".  Generally, kittens love this game.  If she begins the biting/scratching behaviors, put her down and walk away.  Do not pick her up again, right away. If she has to have "time out" for an hour or so, that is OK. If she does not exhibit scratching/biting behavior, give her a treat. Hopefully, you have found titbits she just loves. It may take a while, but very young kittens usually catch on very, very quickly.

You must be absolutely consistent in your approach.  No rough housing with the kitten.  If the kitten needs to expend some energy before bed time, use play therapy, i.e. a teaser for her to attack and chase and expend lots of energy.  Please do not over do it, since 2 month old kittens can get worn out pretty quickly.  So when she slows down, stop, and "play" the holding, stroking, soft speaking "game" with appropriate reinforcement, putting her down if she engages in biting/scratching behaviors, a treat if she does not.

Please let me know how it works out.

Seasonal regards... Norm.


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Norman Auspitz


I can answer most non-veterinary questions about cats. My particular expertise is pedigree cats, breeding and showing. However, I am versed in feline behavior, cat breeds and their characteristics, general feline husbandry, and the like.


I judged for the Canadian Cat Association from 1975 until 1982. I am currently an approved allbreed judge for the Cat Fanciers'' Association (the world''s largets cat registry), and have been judging for them since 1991. I have been breeding pedigreed cats since 1971 and have been exhibiting pedigreed cats in shows since 1970. I obtained my first pedigreed cat in 1970 and have never looked back. In 1971, I obtained my first Abyssinian which has become my primary breed. In addition, I have bred Manx and Persians. Currently, besides the Abyssinians, I am also breeding Maine Coons.

Cat Fanciers'' Association, inc. (CFA) and the Manx, Maine Coon, and Abyssinian breed councils. I am currently Abyssinian breed council secretary.

Cat Fancy Magazine, The Abyssinian Chapter in The Cat Fanciers'' Association Complete Cat Book, and Articles for various editions of The Cat Fanciers'' Association Yearbook

I received a B.S. from Drexel University in 1968, a M.Math from University of Waterloo, in 1970, a Ph.D. from University of Waterloo in 1975, and a MBA from McMaster University in 1980. I received my approved allbreed judging status in the Cat Fanciers'' Association in 1999.

Awards and Honors
We have produced a number of Cat Fanciers'' Association (CFA) National winning Abyssinian and Maine Coons. We have produced a number of Abyssinian and Maine Coon Distinguished Merit females (an award for a top producing cat), including the first Distinguished Merit Abyssinian in the red (sorrel) color. I am the CFA Abyssinian breed council secretary and belong and/or hold office in a number of cat clubs. I am also a member of the CFA Judges Association.

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