After the loss of my three babies, within a 6 month period, I was finally ready to adopt. I adopted a 6 month old kitten from a well known rescue that I used before. I have had him 8 weeks now. The first 2 weeks went well, then out of nowhere this kitten starts suckling/kneading with claws on me and viciously attacking, all four paws, teeth, kicking kinda attacking!

When I try to disengage he bears down harder. Whenever I move, make my bed, open the blinds, etc. he attacks. He tries to escape constantly, climbs the screens, jumps on counters and table, and when I pick him up to correct the behavior he attacks. He attacks people that come over. I have tried everything the vet suggested, searched the internet for suggestions, and nothing has worked.

We have play time four times a day.

He will have a good day and then the old behavior shows up. I am disabled and this behavior is impacting my health. I don't enjoy my new guy, walk on eggshells and dread coming home.

The kicker... when my grandkids come over and the house is crazy he is good.

My apartment is small but I have made all types of accommodations for him. At what point do I say I surrender and take him back?

**The rescue knew nothing about this kitten. Adopted him out before finding out his personality, good with other cats, etc.

  • When your cat attacks, does it look more like this or this? Pay attention to the ears, shape of the back, raised hairs, and general demeanor. Your description of the "attack" leaves it vague as to whether this is a playful cat with boundary issues or an actually angry or defensive cat.
    – Flater
    Commented Oct 29, 2019 at 22:30
  • He looks more like the second "this". Commented Oct 30, 2019 at 1:02
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    Why can't the cat jump on counters and tables? He is a cat and wants vertical space. You can't just give him a "No", you also need to give him a "Yes". So get big, fat, sturdy trees and put them next to places he likes to jump on. Don't get your hands near him when he is in playmode, even if he does something you don't like. Redirect his interest in a toy, interrupt him that way. Sooner or later, he won't think of your body as a toy anymore.
    – Legxis
    Commented Oct 30, 2019 at 9:16
  • He has his section of the counter that lets him look out the door and watch the birds or jump to the window perch. The rest is my space used for stuff like food prep, I prefer him not to get on. The same with my kitchen table. He receives a stern NO that is followed by "Good boy, he's a good boy", a stroke down his back and treat to correct behavior. I have vertical areas, at least three levels, in every room for him to climb. Each lead to a window. Commented Oct 30, 2019 at 10:31
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    With consistency and time it will all work out! Thank you for your comment. Commented Oct 30, 2019 at 10:57

2 Answers 2


Kittens are high energy; there's a reason why it's frequently recommended to adopt two kittens if you plan to adopt one, and that's because, in pairs, they can burn off each other's energy.

You adopted a single kitten; you're now the only target he has for playtime, and he's attempting to play with you the same way he'd play with a companion kitten. You say you're playing four times a day. Based on his behavior, that's clearly not enough--one of the keys is that you say "when my grandkids come over and the house is crazy he is good." He's getting more engagement with them than he can with you, and therefore doesn't have to direct his energy onto you.

If you're able to bring home a companion for him, that will be the best way to both improve his behavior and keep him in your household. Cats under one year old are generally more accepting of new cats than older ones, though you'll still want to take some time to introduce them properly. If you can't bring home a second kitten, then you and he may be better off if you do surrender him back to the rescue and adopt an adult cat instead.

  • 1
    Thank you for your response. After reading your comment it hit me, previously when I added a kitten to my family there was a cat already there. This is the first time I brought one home that was solo. Looking at adding a playmate. After having 5 cats the past 18 years I feel like such a rookie.😉The rescue offered a kitten to foster to see if that would help. Do you think that is an option I should consider? Commented Oct 30, 2019 at 1:14
  • Check to make sure you can foster-to-adopt if it does work out, and I would say yes, give it a try. :) I've had more cats than I can count over the past three decades plus, we're still always learning more!
    – Allison C
    Commented Oct 30, 2019 at 13:03

My impression is the cat is probably trying to play inappropriately. You can tell the difference between play and attack by body language. A cat's eyes will dilate when it's afraid. A cat play-wrestling, not so much. Ears back, spitting, fluffing up, generally looking tense, are all fearful sort of body language. Cats might show some of these kinds of signs while playing, but generally during an attack they're much more intense.

If it is play, first and foremost the cat needs even more playtime and things to help entertain it. Since it's jumping up on tables and climbing screens, it probably needs alot more things that it's allowed to climb. Get cat trees and cat shelves. Arrange them so hopefully they will now be more interesting to the cat for climbing. Position them by windows especially. Climbing cats like to be high up, so you can help encourage it to climb the cat shelves instead by making a series of shelves that lead up even higher than your tables. Have some of these things in every room that you tend to spend a lot of time in. Socialized cats often like to follow their owners around the house and hang out where you hang out.

You can also discourage random pouncing by taking away locations that are fun to the cat for ambushing you. Like, if there's some piece of furniture it likes to hide under, and then jump out and pounce on you, block around that piece of furniture somehow, so it can no longer hide under it.

It can also help to carry a laser pointer with you at all times. When you observe the cat looking like it's going to pounce, get out the laser pointer instead to distract it. Or you can preemptively use the laser pointer to distract it if, for instance, it tends to pounce you right as you come into the house or leave a room.

Besides just doing as many play sessions as possible, you can also try other activities to keep it engaged. These can be things such as giving it better things to watch, like a bird feeder outside its favorite window, clicker training, or even walking on a leash. It's all about being creative to come up with lots of different ways to keep your cat entertained.

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