Q. My new kitten won’t stop charging at my feet. Sometimes he just comes over to sniff them, but often, he literally jumps at them and starts batting, scratching, and even biting them. It really hurts. What is this obsession with feet, and how can I get him to stop?
Dear Ms. Hummer,
A. The clue to your new pet’s foot fetish may be in the fact that your cat is still a kitten. Kittens, like other babies, are curious, especially about things that are a manageable size and also wriggle — like a foot that is about as big as a small prey animal. So it makes sense that your feet have been coopted for target practice.
Feet also have a distinct odor, no matter how clean they are. And since cats have a keen sense of smell, the odor of your feet may make them more interesting still.
Your pet may grow out of his foot focus on his own, but to move things along, provide him with toys to chase as soon as he starts going for your toes, and perhaps regale him with a delicious treat the moment he redirects his attention. That will reinforce the idea that not going after your feet has its rewards. Also make sure he has plenty of environmental enrichment in general — not just toys but also interactions with you, food puzzles, boxes to nestle in, and so on. That should make your feet less enticing, too. Until he gets the hang of not going after you, wear socks!