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How to Stop a Kitten From Climbing up Your Leg

John is a semi-retired librarian and cat dad who enjoys sharing his pet-owning experiences with others.

My Siamese Cat

My Siamese Cat

Why Do Kittens Climb Up Your Leg?

If you start training your cat when they are young, it is easy to prevent potentially detrimental behaviours. If your kitten is constantly climbing up your leg, read on to find out what you should do.

Take Care of Their Claws

I would not be in favour of de-clawing the kitten, as a cat needs its claws for many purposes other than scratching you and the furniture. However, a cat that has little opportunity to walk on hard surfaces may well need its claws trimmed regularly to prevent them from getting too long.

I would also support the suggestion of providing a scratching post and encouraging the cat to use that rather than the legs of your Queen Anne dining table.

Learn to Communicate With Your Kitten

However, the action of telling a kitten not to jump up at you could give it mixed signals. The kitten wants to be close to your face, so as to give and receive affection. You are its substitute mother, remember. If you say to it, 'you can have affection only on my terms', you are breaking the two-way communication that the kitten needs, and which will be repaid as they get older.

We have trained our cat to jump up from the floor to an adult's chest height, thus avoiding the legs. We just hold our hands out in a catching posture, and make encouraging noises, so the cat jumps into the hands and is then taken the rest of the way to the shoulders, where he gets fussed and also has a good view of things from our eye-level.

He has learned not to jump up when the hands are not in position, although he has been known to forget himself on occasion and one ends up unexpectedly wearing a cat!

Associate Gestures With Permission

With a young cat, you would start this training by kneeling on the floor, so the jump does not involve the legs, and associating the hand position with permission to jump. Later, you can encourage jumping up when you are standing, but with the hands held as low as you can reach, so the cat has only a short distance to jump, but again missing your legs.

If you watch a cat climbing a tree, you will see that his first move is to jump to about three feet up the trunk and then scramble up from there. This is a natural action on the cat's part, and one that you can encourage, as a substitute tree, to your mutual benefit!

Bonding Through Training

Training your kitten does not have to be a difficult or stressful thing. Be sure to remain calm and realize that it is a learning experience for both of you. By following the steps above, you will have created a way of communicating better with your pet while further strengthening your bond.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.

© 2008 John Welford


RavenSkye on August 16, 2018:

I'm in a wheelchair so kneeling is out of the question

Sharilee Swaity from Canada on June 18, 2011:

Wow! Thanks for this advice -- it is very good. My one-year old cat has grown out of this habit, but I had not thought of doing what you are saying. Great hub!

Helen Lewis from Florida on January 05, 2010:

Thank you ~ I love the visuals you create with your writing! I have a five month old kitten and will try your suggestions. You have a VERY handsome cat. Aren't they adorable? The affection from an animal is incredible. Thanks for a great hub!

Susan Ng Yu on April 06, 2008:

Hey, thanks. I'll try that on my three kittens. They always scramble up my leg when I'm not watching. They also like to bite my toes and swipe my arms when they're playing. Do you have any suggestions on how to discourage these behaviors without making the kittens feel bad?

John Welford (author) from UK on April 05, 2008:

This is Edwy, who like nothing better than to sit on my keyboard when I'm trying to work! He never laughs much, but I reckon that he has a great sense of humour!

fishskinfreak2008 from Fremont CA on April 05, 2008:

Nice hub. When I was in the US, there was a stray cat who always stopped by my house

donnaleemason from North Dakota, USA on April 05, 2008:

Neat, and that is one very striking looking cat.