How to Handle Play Aggression
Nearly half of cat owners list aggression as the primary behavior problem in their cat.3 Often, this is the result of improper handling of play aggression when the kitten is young. Play aggression is fairly typical behavior in kittens and young cats.
Hiding under furniture and jumping out to attack your foot or ankle, pouncing on your legs under the bedcovers and even wrestling with and biting your hand are all par for the course for a young cat. Normally, your kitten would get out such play aggressions with his littermates, during which he would learn when his ‘play’ had gone too far.
If a kitten gets too rough with his littermates, they will bite back or stop playing, teaching him that there are limits. Intense play aggression with uninhibited scratching and biting is usually seen in kittens and young cats taken early from their mothers, under-stimulated kitties, and cats without appropriate play outlets.
You can help to avoid over-aggressive play in your kitten by taking the role of his littermates; when he is about to pounce on you, hiss at him or loudly say “ouch” – then stop playing for a few minutes. If you are consistent with this, your kitten will learn the limits of play.
That being said, it’s important to provide your pet with plenty of outlets for his energy as well. Providing him with a variety of toys and interaction will help him get the stimulation and activity he craves in a positive manner.
Ensuring your kitten gets ample aerobic exercise will also help balance his energy levels, often times reducing the intensity of over-aggressive play.