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How Do We Teach Our Kitten to Stop Biting?

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Q: We got a beautiful kitten a few months ago. She has been a joy to the two of us, a retired couple. We do have a problem, though: She bites when playing. We have yelled no, scolded her and batted her nose when she has bitten us. She still likes to plays rough. Any suggestions?

A: Punishing your kitten for biting is the complete opposite of what you should be doing, and it may make matters worse. When you fight back, you may escalate the situation, turning a rough-playing kitten into a fighting one. Instead, watch your kitten's body language carefully, and stop playing and petting the instant she starts to get aroused toward rough play. The tip of her tail is a key indicator: When it starts to twitch and flip, break off the activity and walk away.

If you miss the signs that she's getting ready to get rough when you're petting her and end up with teeth and claws around your hand or arm, just freeze. Don't yell, hit or otherwise punish her. If you just stop and wait, chances are your kitten will simply let go. Walk away and let her complete her cool down before interacting with her again.

When you return to playing with her, focus your attention on petting her on the area along the chin and at the base of the tail, and avoid more hair-trigger areas such as the tummy. I would also recommend substituting toys for fingers when you're playing with your cat. Cat "fishing poles" and other interactive games can burn off all that kitten energy she has without anyone getting hurt or angry.

If you're consistent in your responses, she'll mature into a well-mannered cat who saves the rough stuff for her toys and stays calm during the heavy petting.

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Specialty Care

Sometimes sick or injured pets need the care of a veterinary medical specialist. When that happens, VCA specialty hospitals work closely with the general practitioner veterinarians who refer cases to us in order to provide seamless veterinary care to your pet. When your pet is facing any kind of serious illness or injury, our specialty referral hospitals will provide the compassionate and expert care your beloved pet needs.

Our goal is to make sure that when you and your pet are in need that you have access to board certified specialists who are up to date on the very latest developments in their field. In our state of the art hospitals, our specialists also have access to the most sophisticated diagnostic and treatment tools and techniques from ultrasonography and endoscopy to CAT scans and even MRI.

As part of the VCA family, we have over 83 specialty hospitals across the US and Canada which provide referral specialty care, so there may be one near you. Our specialized services include: behavior, cardiology, critical care, dentistry, dermatology, integrative medicine, internal medicine, neurology, oncology, ophthalmology, radiology, rehabilitation, reproduction, and surgery.

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Emergency Care

In case of emergency, please call us immediately. If it is after hours, contact Central Wisconsin Animal Emergency Center at 715-693-6934.  They are located at 1420 Kronenwetter Dr  Mosinee, WI 54455.

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