While cats are stereotyped as sassy and despicable, it’s not normal for them to be mean.
While the breed may have something to do with a cat’s personality, you should watch out for potential aggression. So why is my kitten so mean?
Fear, being territorial, and aggression are just some of the reasons why. You have to do something, so your kitten won’t grow up to be a grumpy or aggressive cat in the future.
Why is my kitten aggressive?
Kitten aggression happens all the time, and owners often perceive it as ‘being mean’.
However, it’s easy to mistake aggression to a kitten’s hunting instincts.
Something might be provoking your kitten’s hunting instincts, which is why it may exhibit “mean” behavior like attacking or scratching.
These triggers can be any of the following:
Fright is the leading reason why your kitten is mean. Kittens can get overwhelmed by various stimuli, which can induce fear. You may also notice that some kittens will be skittish when strangers approach them. Please read here why does my cat swat at me
This is normal for young kittens. To help combat their fear, make it a habit to introduce the kitten to various stimuli slowly. Also, never punish it for the acting mean. Violence will only fuel your kitten’s mean behavior.
2. Territorial instincts
Cats are naturally territorial, a trait that has passed on to every generation. This behavior lingers despite being fully domesticated. As your kitten grows older, it may exhibit mean behavior as you try to invade its territory. Such action is more prominent if you try to introduce a new pet at home.
Territorial aggression is one of the most common problems among cats. Some kittens will also exhibit the same behavior, which will make them appear mean and aggressive. Remember that even well-socialized kittens can become territorial if they perceive a threat to their surroundings.
Kittens with territorial aggression will often hiss and act mean. This can be prevented by proper socialization and reduction of potential triggers.
3. Early weaning
Kittens that are weaned early might exhibit mean behavior. Separating the kitten from its litter and mother too early may cause aggressive suckling behavior later on. Also, the kitten will not develop proper social skills like inhibiting biting and controlling rough play.
While caring for a young kitten is necessary, you should keep its mother in the picture for at least 4 to 6 weeks. This will help prevent mean behavior, not to mention that the mother cat will teach the kitty to use the litter box, among other survival skills. Please read here: Why Does My Cat Sleep In The Litter Box
4. Poor socialization
If your kitten is aloof and very mean, you probably failed to socialize and handle it in its early life. Kittens that are not exposed to humans and other pets will become aggressive.
Although it’s not easy, you should take the time to socialize your kitten. Start with mild stimuli like the outdoor grass, soil, wind, and the rustling trees.
Once your mean kitten is relaxed in these environments, you can introduce more significant stimuli like another pet or person.
Remember that you should always let your kitten approach things and persons on its own terms. Also, it would help if you started once your mean kitten is around 7 to 8 weeks old.
5. Rough play
Kittens are naturally playful to the point that they may appear mean and aggressive. Rough play happens to a lot of kittens, but you must train your little feline what’s acceptable. Letting mean behavior slip during playtime will negative actions later on.
To prevent rough play, schedule multiple playtime sessions with your mean kitten. This will help drain their energy while keeping the little feline mentally and physically stimulated.
Frequent playtimes are met with less frustration on the part of the kitten. If you’re not playing with your kitten, you should give it some interactive toys to keep it occupied.
6. Negative experiences
We have to blame negative experiences if you have an adopted, mean kitty. Cats don’t forget violence, and if they experienced such from their previous owners, they will become aloof and mean. You have to understand that this is a natural reaction. Always be gentle with your kitten and let it get used to the new environment.
A lot of shelter cats suffer from feline aggression. It’s also the same reason why some kittens in the shelter will have injured claws and lips. Their aggressive and mean tendencies will drive them to scratch and bite incessantly.
All kittens can be rehabilitated if placed on a loving and caring home. It will take a while, but with patience and understanding, a mean kitten will yield to your care.
If your adopted kitten is mean beyond your abilities, you can always ask for the help of a pet trainer or the veterinarian.
What does kitten aggression look like?
If your kitten is acting mean and aggressive, you will notice raised hair. Also, its tail will be lashing back and forth, followed by hissing and bared teeth.
The pupils will also dilate, and it will have a lowered posture, as if ready to pounce any time. Some kittens raise their back instead as an attempt to scare off an enemy.
However, you should note that play aggression is usually expected for kittens. It would help if you imposed strict rules so your kitty won’t grow with the behavior.
Mean kittens will also scratch and bite you aggressively. This is different from the ‘love bites’ that don’t draw blood.
Furthermore, mean kittens will have a hard time inhibiting their claws, which is also the result of being weaned too early.
Will my kitten grow out of being mean?
Most kittens will outgrow rough play and mean behavior. By the time your kitten reaches two years old, it would be less hyperactive.
However, you should train your kitten so it will outgrow other behaviors like clawing, biting, and attacking. You should also set rules so your cat will know how to respect your space.
Never let misbehavior slip because your mean kitten will think that it’s okay to defy your rules. It would help if you let your kitten realize that being mean has consequences. Still, it would help if you never used violence because it will only make your kitten meaner as it grows older.
You should be patient and gentle when dealing with kitten aggression, especially if you have a rescue cat. Over time, your efforts will pay off, and your kitty will be more relaxed and affectionate.
How to calm a mean kitten?
If your kitten is so mean, you have to counteract it with training. The following are some of my tried and tested ways to calm a mean kitten:
- Stop playtime. If your kitten exhibits mean behavior during playtime, stop and walk away immediately. This will make your kitten realize that the behavior isn’t acceptable. You can restart playtime once your pet relaxes.
- Use a distraction. If your mean kitten is about to or currently displaying unacceptable behavior, you can use a water gun to distract it. You can also use a hissing sound from an empty aerosol can. Feel free to experiment with which one works for your mean kitten.
- Consider desexing. Spaying or neutering a mean kitten will help tone down its aggressive tendencies. This is due to the hormonal changes that desexing does to a cat. Just make sure that your kitten is at least six months old before getting it fixed.
- Keep the kitten tired. A tired kitten is a happy kitten. Give the mean kitten additional playtime so it won’t have the extra energy to be sassy.
Why is my kitten so mean? It could be due to fear, aggression, anxiety, and lack of socialization. No matter what the cause is, it would be best if you did something about it. Be patient and slowly teach your mean kitten to outgrow its bad habits. You can always approach a pet trainer to get some advice. Regardless of the method you’re going to use, and you should never punish the kitten.
Marco Vasquez is a passionate animal lover and writer with extensive experience in the pet care industry. He has worked with various pets, including dogs, cats, birds, and fish, and deeply understand their unique needs and behaviors. Marco’s love for animals has driven him to become an expert in pet health, nutrition, and behavior, and he is always eager to share his knowledge and insights with others. As a member of the Petcosset team, Marco brings his expertise to help pet owners make informed decisions about the well-being of their little friends. He enjoys hiking and spending time outdoors with his pets in his free time.