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3-4 month old male kitten. Whenever there is a play session, he remains hyperactive and aggressive after the play session. His eyes bulge, he doesn't seem to recognise me & tries to bite me & jump and attack me. He also starts attacking and hiding from invisible enemies. This lasts for many many hours after the play session. On days he doesn't play - he is a lap kitten.

During play, I use a hook/string & he chases it around & tries to grab it. Or he plays with a small colorful ball which makes a bell like sound as he moves it.

EDIT: Kitten was a stray kitten which came to my window when he was around 2.5 months old & cried to be let in & was. I don't have any idea how he was separated from her mother/siblings etc. I heard from others that a stray dog had tried to attack him.

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If your kitten has a kitten companion of the same age

Teach it that playing with people-bodies is a no-no. Everytime she does this, get up and ignore her; literally not looking at her until she stops - it shouldn't take more than a few seconds. She is trying to play with you as if you are a cat, and unfortunately people don't have protective fur. Lack of protective fur makes her play activity a painful one rather than fun. However, her play is not wrong per se, either, so don't actively punish her. Large eyes and attentive face indicate play behavior and fun (I know, not for you, sorry :) ). Additionally, you can try using longer toys to play with her so you're not within immediate reach.

If your kitten lives alone

Many people do this and think it is perfectly fine. Let me tell you a secret: it's not. Among other reasons, because of what you are experiencing: cats that 'attack' people, pee in the apartment, scratch the walls or furniture or act lethargic are all possible signs of - simply put - being lonely. This is not to attack you or to say you are a bad person.

Cats are inherently social creatures; they merely hunt alone. Leyhausen and other ethologists have observed various types of social groups even among feral cats. Your kitten is merely trying to play; it won't stop playing... or, it might, and then just sleep. And do nothing. ...Not really a happy life, though of course she will be happy whenever you are around, you -are- her life after all and you love her.

The best and most simple solution is to get a kitten of the same gender, age and character for your kitten. Trust me, she will magically and suddenly not attack you anymore, it works every single time because cats don't -want- to hurt us; they will go to someone who actually wants to play the way they do... if someone else like that is available.

  • Why the same age? This is important so the cats will be roughly equivalent in size, strength and interests. A 6 month old wants to prove themselves and test their strength; they would overpower a 3-4 month old cat too easily, possibly leading to situations where the little one doesn't dare to move out from under the bed anymore. (with adult cats, a few weeks of course don't make such an enormous difference)

  • Why the same gender? Putting two cats together is always a bit of a game of chance and luck. We are trying to increase the chance of compatibility, and in general female kittens grow up to play chase, hide and seek, and toy games, while male kittens grow up to focus more on very physical, rough fighting games (usually around the 8 month stage). There are exceptions, but with kittens the age of yours, we just can't know for sure so we go with what will most likely be the best fit. Female, in your case.

  • Why the same character? This goes back to same interests and is much, much easier to gauge with adults that already had past feline company because you will know exactly what kind of play behavior they display (making gender somewhat less of a primary factor), how much social contact they need (do they want to basically lie on top of each other and social groom or is sitting and birdwatching together the height of their social need) and how active they are (a couch potato will be a poor partner indeed for a buzzing bee of a kitten and vice versa). In this case, you should be able to at least gauge how active your little one is. If she is timid and more into cuddling than play, don't look for the 'most rough-playing kitten ever'. Same the other way around, but yeah, once more you can only go by estimates here.

With adult cats, I would give advice on how to properly introduce the cats to each other, but with kittens there really is no need for any special precautions. Just keep the new arrival in her own room for a day or so (until she recovers from the stress of moving and eats on her own etc.) and then let them have at it :) They might hiss and growl for a bit, but after a few days they will already play together.

First English study I found - from 2001. This really shouldn't be news. "The domestic cat is a social species with complex intra-colony social dynamics." If a living being is inherently social, depriving it of any contact with its own species is detrimental at best. (see humans, solitary confinement and various experiments)

http://katzen-verstehen.at/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/social-organization-of-the-cat.pdf

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  • I cannot keep another kitten - it's just not possible. – user93353 Jan 6 '17 at 2:23
  • @user93353 Then if you love the kitten you should give her to a home where she can have (well chosen) feline company. Otherwise, in but a year or so she will have forgotten most stuff about proper cat language and behaviors will become permanent. While this doesn't mean she will stay 'aggressive' for all her life - after all, she will get older - keeping someone alone is not considered a good thing to do even with people, who I would say are similarly social as cats are. – psycoatde Jan 6 '17 at 10:58
  • Ok - then probably the best solution is to return her back to the alley where I rescued her from - where she was skin and bones & was being attacked by dogs and other cats. She can have her feline company there. – user93353 Jan 6 '17 at 11:07
  • You are not reading my messages in good faith. "you should give her to a home where she can have (well chosen) feline company" does not mean 'abandon her'... Yes, this is hard. And sucks. It really does. The question is do you want to keep things as they are or not (knowing that your kitten is suffering at least as much as you are)? I myself don't have the capability to keep my own cats. So I volunteer as a foster place and help to properly socialize cats, get them treatment, find proper homes for them etc. Its a win-win for me. Maybe its an option for you? – psycoatde Jan 6 '17 at 13:09
  • You are assuming that I live in your country & circumstances are similar to whatever circumstances there. There is no home I can give her to. There are no decent shelters for cats. There aren't foster homes for human kids, forget cats. People who keep pets at home buy fancy imported breeds. It's either in the alley or my place. – user93353 Jan 6 '17 at 14:08
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To begin with, your methods of play with your kitten are universal and in my humble opinion harmless - not the cause of the problem.

Note also - I've not read the other answer/s.

I very quickly skipped through the comments and noticed you mention your kitten might be a feral / alley cat. If this is the case could you please edit your question and add/include a brief description of how you came to care for your kitten? It will add context to others who read your original post to better understand your situation and assist those who are attempting to prepare an answer.

There are a few comments I'd like to make in response to your question. I'll itemise my comments first and explain in a little more detail following...

Not wanting to personify your kitten for fear of setting a bad precedent, but kittens are in some respects similar to a human baby and require a number of thoughtful considerations by its human owner or carer, including:

  1. The kitten has very basic needs - sleep, eat, toilet, play (not necessarily in that order)... then repeat;
  2. The kitten needs a role model, a creature to set the rules of the litter;
  3. Many animals respond to the emotional and physical state of their carer/owner.

To explain in a little more detail:

  1. Basic Needs and Routine

Forgive me if this is obvious, but your kitten has very basic needs at this time in its life. You must provide it with a safe environment for sleep, adequate food and water, time for play and an opportunity to toilet.

Routine is an important element to this. The more consistently you are able to provide for your kitten at the same time every day, the more content it will be. Same feeding time, same play time, same toilet time, etc. This is not always possible and we all do the best we can, so just do the best you can to set a routine.

Play is just one component of your kitten's needs. All must be provided to as regular a routine as you can manage, to ensure a healthy balanced environment for your kitten.

  1. Role Model and Discipline

While still with its litter and under the care of its mother, a kitten will be taught the lessons of acceptable and unacceptable behaviour. So while still in the litter, an unruly kitten will be disciplined by its mother and the mother will act as its role model.

You must take this role now that it is no longer with its litter "siblings" and under the care of its mother.

Over a period of time you must learn to discipline your kitten and act as it's role model, you must determine what is acceptable and unacceptable behaviour.

Most animals respond well to discipline. Note that some need a "firmer hand" than others, so the extent of discipline is something that you are best to determine for yourself.

Note however that discipline must never be cruel or aggressive, or damage the animal in any way physically or mentally.

When I read your description of your kitten's behaviour after play, it makes me think your kitten becomes over-excited during play and because it has a youthful almost boundless energy, your kitten finds it difficult to calm down.

In some ways human children can become over-excited during play and find it equally difficult to calm down, especially at the end of the day when they are already tired.

To discipline your kitten:

  • Take her by the scruff of her neck, as her mother would do. This action has two known effects... it has a physical effect that restrains your kitten and makes it difficult for her to continue the over-excited behaviour and it also has a psychological effect that makes the kitten "feel" reprimanded.
  • Say once and only once "No", firmly and without compassion. Make certain the tone in your voice makes your message clear. She will not "understand" the first time so show patience. Do not continually berate your kitten as it has a very short memory and will forget what it has done to deserve the reprimand.
  • Take your kitten to a "safe place", for example her sleeping area, then place her in this area and make certain she is contained - that is - she is unable to escape from this space. She will most likely cry for a short time but eventually she will calm down.

After some time has passed, perhaps a half hour, check on you kitten. If she has calmed down, remove you kitten from her "safe place" space and show her a lot of affection. If she misbehaves again, repeat the steps above.

  1. Animal Response

It is worth noting that many animals respond to the emotional and physical state of their carer/owner. So the more upset you become, the more elevated your kitten's response.

Remember that your kitten is still so young and inexperienced. She is still learning so much every minute of every day and most likely cannot distinguish between your emotion states, let alone hers. She will however understand the difference between elevated emotions and calm emotions.

So, as difficult as this is, always try to remain calm. Your calm emotional state will reassure your kitten.

Good luck with your training.

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  • In my country stray cats and dogs are all over the place. This cat just came on to my window one day - he must have been around 2.5 months old at that time. He was a thin scrawny kitten & cried to come in. That's the story in short. – user93353 Jan 15 '17 at 12:16
  • Googling for kitten scruff of the neck brings up several sites that advice not to do this – user93353 Jan 15 '17 at 12:20
  • That is great news that you have chosen to take your kitten in... it was obviously in need of a good home and has found someone who cares. If you could please add the information about how you found your kitten to the end of your question / original post? Then other users will read it too, otherwise they have to scan through all the comments. – andrewbuilder Jan 15 '17 at 12:23
  • Regarding my advice, I can only offer what works for me and what seems appropriate to your situation, based on the limited information I have. If you have found advice to the contrary, you will have to make your own assessment. You can always choose to carry your kitten in another way. I wish you every success and happiness. – andrewbuilder Jan 15 '17 at 12:36

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