Monday, October 23, 2006

Ouch

Gp 3 Day 5
These kittens have a bit of an oral fetish. When they are either tired or overstimulated they bite my fingers - hard. And they rootle each other, trying to nurse. If they clamped down on Mom like they do on my fingers, no wonder they were found alone! The good news is, I have usually been successful at stopping this behavior with enough time and consistency. What I do: when they nip, I take my hand away. If they keep pursuing, I set them down. My verbal cue that this is about to happen is "Ouch." Eventually, when I say Ouch they stop. Really. The behavioural term for this is negative punishment: removing something the animal values (petting) in order to decrease the occurrence of an unwanted behaviour. The most important part is the consistency. No mouthing, period, or you end up with an intermittent reinforcement schedule, which will make the behavior even harder to eradicate.

As to the rootling, that is not uncommon in kittens who have been removed from Mom at this young age. However, D assures me that early removal can also be a good thing, making it easier to socialize kittens who have not had previous human contact.

And OBTW, the other human member of my household thought Shariah was too feminine-sounding, so tkfkas (the kitten formerly known as Shariah) is now named Seamus.

1 comment:

shelley said...

I'm grateful there are people like you that take the time to get involved and take care of these little kittens. I wish more pet owners would be responsible.

Thank you.