help! rescue cat is bitey bastard(61 Posts)
As some of you may remember, we lost our beloved elderly LandingCat two weeks ago. We wanted to fill the cat shaped space in the house and our local rescue were advertising that they were full so we decided to go and look, and ended up taking home a beautiful big lad who'd been a stray then in the shelter for a few months. He's confident, purry and friendly - but he bites. Not hard enough to break the skin, but he's a big guy and it still hurts. It's a shock especially for my DH and the DC who have been used to a little, gentle soul who could be relied on for good behaviour except if very stressed.
I think partly it's misguided rough play and partly pent up energy because he's not been allowed out yet but it's the unpredictability that bothers us. A previous cat of mine was a bit cantankerous but she would give you fair warning, He comes for a fuss or brings a toy to play with you and sometimes enjoys it, sometimes immediately grabs your arm. I know he was a hunter so have provided lots of toys to beat up and have been playing with a rod toy rather than close up with hands. When he bites, we don't pull away, but say No firmly and as soon as he lets go, walk off and ignore him, although he often follows us purring and rubbing against us, so I don't think it's aggression or stress. I think he doesn't know how to behave.
DH is already talking about taking him back to the shelter but I've persuaded him to give it a few weeks before making any decisions so if anyone has suggestions about how to teach him better manners I'd be so grateful.
Hmmm, we had a rescue that did the same thing. Kept her for four months until she launched herself at my 7yr olds face. We all treated her with respect etc etc but we sent her back
I think you're handling it in the right way so I'd give it a little longer as you suggest. (He probably isn't 'unpredictable' - it's just that you don't know him as well as the others so aren't reading the signals as well. Having a new personality move into the house is often difficult.)
How long has he actually been with you?
One of mine is like that. When we first got him he was really bad, but calmed down with time, though he still bites. Ours had def been kicked and hit in his previous life, and he didn't understand walking away when you had had enough or didn't want the interaction someone offered you. Fortunatly this isn't a massive problem for us, but if you want a fussy cat, then its better to take them back tbh
Does it seem aggressive when he bites?
I only ask as one of mine does this...I call them love bites as she is usually purring but the bites themselves can be quite hard (not enough to break the skin). Sometimes it's because she is overwhelmed by the fussing. She is often flopped on me and in a relaxed state when she does this.
He's only been here a week, Cozie, very early days. We were astonished at how calm and confident he was, both in the shelter and when we brought him home. They'd suggested he should be an only cat so I'm assuming he can be a bit of a bully with other cats, but they didn't mention biting people (to be fair, he didn't start with us till Day 3 so maybe he didn't behave like that there.)
He doesn't seem aggressive at all, Alfie, just playful. It's not normally when he's getting petted, it's when he's playing or has come to rub against your legs and bunt you. Then he makes a grab for your hand.
I do think he's basically a friendly cat - he's taking to sleeping outside our bedroom door every night and is delighted to see us in the morning, and at the moment is clambering all over my lap bunting me and the ipad with his head and paddling my jeans.
I've had a succession of very bright cats - not all Siamese although, to be fair, most of them were - and they all learned the rules pretty quickly. (Even Seniorboy used to bite my mother but I wasn't having any of that!) The key for me has been complete and implacable consistency on the basics - not so easy with DCs who often want fast gratification from a pet and just don't understand the notion of having a distinct new personality around. (The cat has to adjust but so also do you.)
How old are they?
I think he'll settle. He's been in kennels some time and doesn't know the guidelines yet I expect. when his teeth make contact can you make a sudden TSCHHHH noise (you know what I mean!) just to break the moment and get your skin away? Some cats get overstimulated and overwhelmed by all the touching, particularly when they haven't had much fuss or company for a good while, but they're clever creatures and very able to learn.
One of my two is always chewing on me, it's playful but sometimes is a bit hard, so I tell her 'no' firmly if she gets over enthusiastic. I had a similar cat growing up whom we all adored. I think if it's playful rather than aggressive it isn't a massive issue personally.
Out of interest, how much talking do you all do with him? (I've found that cats react better to 'discussion' than they do to physical contact - and that includes the non-Siamese. Even if they don't do much talking themselves.)
We all chat to him all the time Cozie! He doesn't chat back much but purrs and blinks and seems to like the attention. DC are 11 and 8, and pretty good - they don't crowd him or try to treat him like a teddy. DD2 plays with him rather than pets him but is very wary now. She doesn't want him to go back to the shelter, though, and was very tearful at the thought. DD1 chats away to him and he follows her about. She has already said that we have a cat because we can afford to keep one and keep him out the shelter and off the streets for his benefit, not for our benefit, so is totally on board too. She knows not to pet him unless he clearly asks to be petted. It's DH that needs persuading it's worth persevering.
I hope you're right Yellow - he's a gorgeous big beast, I am already very fond of him, so I'd be really sad if this doesn't work out.
I used to quite enjoy having my cat chew my hand as a child - I was obviously a strange kid!
Ah Yes. I didn't mention DH did I?
Keep up with the chatting and make sure to accentuate any positive that you can find for DH's benefit.
I would bet my bottom dollar that in another few weeks when you have all settled in with one another and, crucially, he is going outside, the biting will calm down a lot or stop. I'm assuming he's a relatively young cat and has been outside at some point in his life? It sounds like it is not aggressive biting at all but more excitement/love bites. Hang in there!
My female cat used to do this, the ne I had as a child. It didn't her us too much from what I remember as she was v careful wth the nip, not to break the skin etc. As the others say she often did it when she'd been petted for a long time, she'd suddenly lash her head round and nip.
try this page they usually have good info
Do you know any of his history? (I'm wondering also if he was a late neuter.)
They reckon he's about 3, Apologies, but as he was a stray can't be too exact. As soon as he's had his vaccinations and he's had another week to get settled we'll be letting him out for a prowl and I very much hope he can let off steam in the garden and be more chilled indoors. He's now settled down on the cushion beside me, purring and looks the picture of contentment.
And yes, Cozie, he was an entire tom when picked up so had plenty time to develop tommish swagger.
You wouldn't have a photo handy would you?
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