A kitten is a lovely addition to any family. Cuddly, playful and soft to the touch, kittens can manage to get away with many things, from breaking your favorite vase to peeing in your bed. But at a certain point, you have to acknowledge abnormal kitten behavior and find solutions for all of the issues.
Otherwise, your tiny kitten will grow into an adult cat and maintain the same behaviors. By then, it will be very difficult, if not impossible, to correct them. And this is how many cats end up in shelter – given up by owners who are unable to deal with various unpleasant behaviors. Fortunately, if you act quickly, your furry friend will leave behind their abnormal kitten behavior.
What Represents Abnormal Kitten Behavior?
Some of the things a small kitten does may appear strange to you, such as pica, or chewing non-food items. If it becomes a repetitive pattern in the kitten’s behavior, you should worry about it. Otherwise, it is simply the way the kitten explores its new environment.
On the other hand, cat owners may tolerate specific abnormal kitten behavior putting it down to “it’s a cat’s instinct”. That may be true for a feral cat, but in a pet those behaviors can be problematic.
So, what does represent abnormal kitten behavior and cause you to worry and take action? Here are the most common instances:
1. Improper Litter Use
Most cat owners complain that their kitten do not always use the litter box. This issue can have several explanations. The first, and most obvious, is that the kitten was not properly litter trained.
Just like small children, kittens need time until they grasp the concept of using the litter box. Some of them learn faster than others. Also, the owners may have exaggerated expectations – believing that a kitten will learn to use the litter box in a few days.
The solution is to be patient and let the kitten learn at its own pace. Meanwhile, to avoid accidents on the bed or carpet, use litter training diapers and pads. Also, make sure that the litter box is adequately sized and your kitten can actually climb in it.
2. Play Aggression
Play aggression is normal in kittens, up to a point. This is how they learn to hunt and fight, by engaging in mock attacks with their siblings. Once you adopted a kitten, you become its playmate.
However, you must do your best to discourage your pet from this kind of abnormal kitten behavior in time. Stop playing with it as soon as the biting and scratching start, put the kitten down and even say “ouch” loudly. The kitten will understand in time that it crossed a line and become less aggressive in its play.
3. Fearful and Defensive Behaviors
Kittens will need time before they adapt to a new environment. During the first days, they will usually stay hidden under furniture and come out to eat, drink and do their business while you are away or asleep.
However, continuous fear of you and other family members after several weeks represents an abnormal kitten behavior. It usually manifests itself through:
- Flattening the ears to the head
- Hiding under furniture as soon as you walk into a room
- Hissing as you pass it by
- Dilated pupils
- Defensive posture
- Scratching your personal items (especially clothing and footwear).
This kind of behavior may be the result of a traumatic event (being hurt by other animals or people). You should take the kitten to the vet to rule out any health problems. If everything appears to be normal, be patient with your kitten and keep engaging it in games with various cat toys that stimulate its curiosity and playfulness.
4. Scratching and Spraying
These two behaviors are closely connected. Kittens scratch and spray (starting with the age of 5 months) in order to mark their territory. Once they become familiar with your home, they feel that they need to protect their new territory from other cats.
To stop a cat from spraying, you should neuter/spay it. As for scratching, that is not really an abnormal kitten behavior and you cannot stop it. All you can do is give your cat sufficient scratching posts to keep it busy.
Don’t forget: whenever you are in doubt about abnormal kitten behavior, err on the safe side and schedule an appointment with the vet!