Bitey cat(8 Posts)
Hey all, hoping someone can give me some good advice. We have two little 4 month old terrors, Popcorn and Squeaks, who we've had for just over a month. Squeaks is very scratchy, bitey, jump-y - it's just her personality but it also hurts - she has made both me and OH bleed.
It is less now than it was when she was younger and I know she doesn't do it out of aggression, she really doesn't seem to understand that claws need to be kept in when playing with the humans, or that scratching and biting us HURTS. We already say NO and take hands away, put her down off the sofa when she does do it, but is there anything we can do to train her out of it?
A lot of it is age, she obviously sees you as a third kitten.
Marking my place, I also have a biter. Does that calming spray stuff really work? It's £28 a bottle
Ours is 12 weeks and a biter/scratcher. We found out on the web that she had adopted us as her new colony and it is normal for young cats to play this way with her new family.
DD donated an old soft toy duck which is human baby friendly. When Kitty wants to bite we shove that under her chin and she bites and scratches that instead.
Go to Jackson Galaxy of My Cat from Hell fame's website. Tons of advice there.
I adopted our own BiteyCat earlier in the year and he's a big full grown three year old, so when he plays rough, it really hurts, so I'd strongly advise sorting it before yours get that big! We've found that scheduling play sessions (using rod type toys or things that can be thrown, so fingers are not temptingly near) has helped a bit. We also have several kicker toys for BiteyCat to beat up when the urge strikes and whenever he tries to use teeth or claws we give him one of the kickers and praise him for playing with it, so it's clear what's acceptable to be aggressive to as well as what we don't like. The biggest thing has been getting to know the signs before it happens, rather than after. If you can spot the telltale body language of your kitten and distract with a toy, it will mean no damage to you, and no telling off. For ours, it's as soon as his pupils start to dilate - he's about to go into play-hunt mode, so we grab a toy and let him hunt that.
You seem to be doing well so far.
Try to give her plenty of affection, and withdraw it if she bites. Get some toys to play wih her with, and make sure no one plays with their hands (even if it doesnt hurt it avoids encouraging her).
Also make sure there is no aggressive telling off (a firm NO as youve been doing is fine, but no shouting or hand-waving). Make sure children are on the same page as well.
Does she have hidey-spots? It may not help with the biting itself, but you mentioned her being timid and our bitey-cat loves her boxes and cat tree. Perhaps it might help if she gets overstimulated.
Othwr than that I imagine time will make the most difference.
Ours was a terrible biter when we first got her - it took a lot of patience and time but she has mellowed massively with age, and is now a big softy 2 year old. She still bites softly when cuddling (more of a gentle squeeze with teeth) occasionally, and unfortunately still bites vets/nurses if they try to do much more than a cursory exam/vaccine.
But from a cat who bit anyone who touched her, pounced on everyone and chased the children's feet she has made huge progress.
If they have each other I doubt its a lack of toy/ sensory issue as they can play and bite each other at 4 months which is where they learn restraint.
As they get older though they will need a large kicker toy to destroy (to do this mad bunny kick action with), we bought a fur hat from holiday and he drags it round the house killing his giant 'prey' and ripping chunks out of it.
But with human biting; in the end we had to train ours by using a water spritzer bottle; luckily the biting was mainly isolated (so made it easier to keep the spritzer nearby) to when I would get in to bed and kitten would try to sink its teeth into my ankles by pouncing out from under the bed.
You need to make sure when you spray that you make no noise whatsoever, do not speak, do not look at cat. Otherwise they will associate it with you personally, rather than their behaviour.
Also cats have no 'memory', as in 'I just bit OP', so then I got spritzed - will not work. You need to only spritz at the exact moment cats teeth are in action, or bad behaviour is conducted. Ie 'I get spritzed when I bite OP'. So you usually miss the first bite, grab bottle and kitty always used to come back for a re-strike and we would get him. If he didn't well great, that was good news too.
So its 'biting / spritz' is associated rather than 'biting then spritz' IYSWIM. Cats don't understand consequences.
I never found 'no' etc. to ever help IMO.
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