When kittens are with their littermates they learn how to engage in social play. This is the time when each kitten learns how to use an inhibited bite so as not to cause injury. A kitten who bites too hard is either reprimanded by the queen or gets a very negative reaction from a littermate. This social play is important and each kitten soon learns the rules. Facial expressions and body postures displayed during play also indicate that the session is friendly and not truly aggressive.
When Kittens Leave Their Littermates
When kittens reach about 12 weeks of age, social play may have a tendency to become a bit too aggressive so if you have littermates that are still together, you’ll have to pay closer attention so you can monitor their interaction.
If you are adopting a kitten and she is now leaving her littermates it will be up to you to help teach her the correct manners when she engages in playtime with you.
Appropriate Toys for Kittens
The first and most important rule when it comes to teaching a kitten to play gently is to not use your fingers as toys. No matter how young your kitten is and whether it hurts when she bites or not, this isn’t the message you want to send to her. Biting flesh is never to be allowed.
From the very beginning, have appropriate toys for your kitten to bite during play. For interactive playtime, use toys based on a fishing pole design. That will put a safe distance between your hands and your kitten’s teeth. This way, when your kitten is enthusiastically involved in play she doesn’t have to worry about crossing the line.