How to Stop a Kitten From Climbing Your Legs

You love your kitten, but he has taken on an undesirable habit where he climbs up your legs using his claws. Your pain does little to stop him from doing this behavior. In some cases, you must endure this behavior until the kitten grows older and grows out of it. Let’s have a look at some of the reasons that kittens do this.

Attention-Seeking Behavior

Your cat may climb up your legs to seek attention. A lot of cat owners report this happening while they cook a meal or go to feed their kitten. He wants your attention for food. Especially if the kitten discovers how certain actions bring him what he wants, he will continue doing it.

If you know what the kitten wants, avoid rewarding him for climbing your legs. In the case of attention-seeking, ignore him altogether.

Learn how to identify attention-seeking behaviors and weed them out of the kitten. Beware of how some behavior may relate to a medical condition that your kitten has. You may want to consult a veterinarian in some cases.

Keep His Claws Trimmed

Kittens who climb your leg may take time before they learn not to do this behavior. As such, you will need to exercise patience and wait him out. In the meantime, keep his claws trimmed to ensure that it doesn’t feel as painful when he climbs your leg.

Nail trimming is an effective solution much better than de-clawing a cat, which is a cruel practice that should be banned everywhere. Cats need their claws to defend themselves, and they also use the scent glands between their paws to add scent to the things they scratch.

Without their claws, it can lead to tissue necrosis or lameness. Never de-claw a cat. Ethical vets won’t even consider this practice.

On average, you will want to trim your kitten’s nails every 10 days to two weeks. This differs from declawing. Afterward, you will give your kitten a special treat to have it associate this activity with more enjoyment.

Use Pet-Friendly Alternatives

Cats have an instinct where they want to climb things. That often leads to them climbing your legs when they see no alternatives. You might add climbing or scratching posts to your home and give him areas where he can climb. Try this 53-inch multi-level cat tree. It includes a scratching post as well so that kitty learns early on to scratch on appropriate surfaces.

Teach your kitten the most appropriate things to play with at this age, and it will last a lifetime.

You want him to associate fun with things that won’t hurt you. Distract your kitten away from negative behaviors that will have no benefit. You either want to distract or redirect his behavior.

Look for Leg-Climbing Triggers

You want to better understand the moments where he will attempt to climb your leg. For example, does he do this while you cook in the kitchen? In that case, he may want food. You can distract him away from that behavior by feeding him before you start cooking.

In other cases, your kitten will climb your leg because of how he wants your attention.

Beware of this trigger because of how if your kitten learns that climbing your leg gets your attention, he will do it more frequently. Instead, you want to do your best to ignore it.

Other signs that your cat wants your attention include biting you unprovoked, knocking objects off shelves, jumping up to your level and meowing loudly.

Expert Tip: While it may be hard, especially when he’s putting his claws into your skin, you want to do your best to ignore him so that he doesn’t continue with the behavior.

Shake a Penny Can as the Kitten Runs up Your Leg

First, you must understand when the trigger happens. Once you know when it will happen, keep a penny can on hand and wait for him to try climbing your legs. Once he starts to sink his claws in, shake the penny can.

You will want to pick up the kitten and pet him afterward so that he isn’t afraid of your legs.

However, this can stop him from continuing with the behavior. Some people have also applied a bitter apple chewing deterrent to stop the kitten from climbing the legs.

Leg Climbing: An Unwanted Kitten Phase

Keep in mind, the leg climbing may only prove an unwanted phase that they will grow out of. Especially if you teach them not to do this, they will stop doing it eventually. You could make a yelp to indicate how it hurts when they do that.

Kittens who do leg climbing probably don’t realize how it hurts you. Especially given their penchant for climbing at that age, they will climb anything that they see as possible to climb. They haven’t learned how climbing your leg hurts you. However, most cats will learn this with time.

Cats go through many phases in growth from behavior to size. The timeline of kitten phases include:

  • Week 1 to 3 — Kitten opens his eyes
  • Week 3 to 5 — Walking and using the litterbox
  • Week 6 to 8 — Socializing and first vaccines
  • Week 9 to 12 — Weaning and cat skills
  • 3 to 6 months — Ready for adoption or neutering
  • One year — No longer a kitten

This timeline shows you a general growth period of what to expect with your kitten. Especially during the walking and socializing stage, your kitten will be prone to climbing up your leg.

However, they usually grow out of this on their own, especially if you redirect them to other habits. Around the six-month period, you can usually expect them to grow out of it, depending on the cat, and many grow out of it after two months. Most people who go through this don’t even realize how common it is among kittens.

Wear Thicker Jeans

Many cat owners say that wearing thick jeans will help you through this stage. Most report it as less painful as long as you wear the right clothing. Thin pants are usually the worst. Wearing thick pants will help, and you can take other active measures to keep the kitten from climbing your pants.

Thicker jeans can also help for the stage where your cat takes to attacking your feet and legs. Unfortunately, this is another painful stage that your kitten may pass through at some point.

Never Play with the Kitten with Your Hands

You don’t want to play with a kitten using your hands because it teaches him how it doesn’t hurt your skin. This will worsen him climbing your legs because he won’t see it as painful.

Use a toy wand or something that will get him to jump around and play. The issue of playing with a cat with bare skin is that they won’t recognize how this hurts later. That will cause them to do more things like that, and you want to lessen it rather than make it more common.

How do you stop a kitten from climbing on you? Most cat owners report redirecting the kitten’s behavior as most effective in stopping them from climbing. Climbing on people is common behavior for kittens, and luckily, they usually grow out of it after two months.

Why does my kitten try to climb me? Your kitten may try to climb you because of how it wants attention. This undesirable behavior is luckily a phase that your kitten will grow out of in time. Gently lift the kitten away from your legs as it attempts to climb. Doing this enough times communicates a message.


Hopefully, this article highlights some of the reasons why your kitten may climb your legs. Be careful not to show affection or give him too much attention after he climbs your legs, or you may be inadvertently encouraging him to climb your legs.

Cat behavior is a fascinating subject full of strange habits. We may not understand why our cats do the things that they do. If you’d like to learn more about cat behavior, check out an article that I wrote here about “Cats Licking Windows: The Psychology behind It.

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