ASK DR CLAIRE
Hi I rescued a kitten at 4weeks age. She was very independent. Except of a night she would cuddle into my arm at lights out and knead my arm. Now at 2 months she still does it and much harder and for longer. Its making my arm red raw and I don’t know how to stop her she carries on if she cant do it and tries it on my face etc. How do I stop her?
Kneading is a normal behaviour that you really can’t stop, but we do need to stop it occurring on your arm!
A short term remedy to the red arms would be to have your kittens nails trimmed and keep them short.
Play time is essential for kittens, it’s mentally stimulating and also great physical exercise. It should be scheduled into your day and also used when it seems like they need an outlet. You can use fishing pole-type toys, laser light on the wall or toss toys for her to prey on. It’s also great to do reward -based training, and make sure her home is really interesting to her: hidey holes, loads of vertical space (by this I mean perches up high, things to climb on), and food dispensing toys for her meals.
In terms of approaching her behaviour directly, what we need to do is redirect her kneading behaviour from you as the target, to something else, such as a soft toy.
If there are other signs of anxiety it would be a good idea to try Feliway (basically a happy pheromone which helps stressed cats).
Worst case scenario would be to not have your kitten sleep with you, to help break the habit. However, it’s really important that she is not put under further stress which could make her behaviours worse.
More information is needed to be able to help with with the best plan here. If you’d like to chat in person, you can book a live video call or start a chat to discuss in more detail, as soon as possible.
We’re here to help!