A year or scratching and biting! Help!!

Shawna87

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Hey everyone! I have three cats! My youngest, Carlos, will be a year old in a couple weeks. I got him when he was three weeks old and he is very attached to me.

When he was a kitten he started to play bite me and grab me with his paws. I always let him and assumed he would grow out of it. Well he hasn’t grown out of it. When I make the bed and he is on it he’ll chase my hands and swat at them. When I pet him he’ll love the pets and then starts to grab my hand and scratch me. He also loves to play with my hair and swats at it. This has resulted in me getting multiple scratches on my hands and face. When I’m petting him he’ll act like he loves it and then roll over and start biting me.

I love this baby so much and I would never get rid of him or do anything to hurt him. He’s my little one I raised but I’m starting to get tired of being scratched and bitten.

Does anyone have any suggestions?? Currently I just try to move him or get up and walk away when he scratches or bites me. It doesn’t seem to be working though. I really thought by the time he was one he’d stop it but he still going strong.

Thanks in advance for the help! Here’s a picture of my sweet boy!
 

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Biomehanika

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When he was a kitten he started to play bite me and grab me with his paws. I always let him and assumed he would grow out of it.
Unfortunately this is the issue. He’s been taught since kittenhood that this behaviour is not only OK but really fun, and that your limbs are a toy, so it’s a hard formed habit now for him that he believes is acceptable behaviour and play.

Luckily you have other cats so he’s unlikely to have full blown single kitten syndrome. I’m sure they teach him manners when he pushes boundaries too far, and you’re going to have to start doing the same. It’ll take time but you can hopefully correct this habit.

Step 1) When he latches onto you and bites/scratches/whatever you need to react like a cat with either a loud yelp or a hiss. Every single time. This should be much more effective than time outs. This will teach him that it’s not OK but it will take some time as he has been allowed to do it and therefore still thinks it’s OK, so be patient with him, and most importantly, consistent!

2) Never play with him using your hands/arms again. Don’t even hold small toys to play with him. You need to use toys that put a good distance between you and him for the foreseeable future, such as wand toys, or he will continue to think your hand/arm is just an extension of the toy and go for it, too.

With these changes he should slowly get better about it but it’ll likely be a long road as he was allowed to do it for so long, but if you are consistent you should see improvements, and then hopefully he will truly grow out of it!

PS. He’s adorable lol
 

FeebysOwner

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Hi. Given how young Carlos was when you got him, he was not able to stay with his mama long enough for her to teach him cat manners. So, now that will be your job. Hissing at him is one thing you can do, and you can say 'ouch' loudly, then just as you do now, walk away and ignore him, or put him in a time out for a minute or two. Mama cats will also pin down a kitten to stop them, so that might need to be added to the above process when applicable. That would merely mean gently but firmly holding him down by the scruff before hissing and or saying ouch. If you would try to pick him up during the scruff process, always support the rest of his body with your other hand. These things have to be done each and every time that he starts to scratch or bite, and it could take a while before he gets it since he has been doing it for so long.

Don't use your hands to play with him either - use toys that are either on a wand or long enough to keep some distance between him and your hands. I'd also pull your hair back whenever you are around him to discourage him from trying to play with your hair.

He is still young so some of this behavior could dissipate as he ages, but it will be quicker if you show him that it is not acceptable, through 'cat language' as I described above.

How does he behave around the other cats? Have they already 'taught' him to not scratch and bite them? I am guessing they have, and maybe still do if he acts up from time to time. If so, observe what they do and translate that to what you, as a human, can do to mimic them.

I am sure some other members will come along soon and offer more tactics - I see one member already beat me to the punch!
 
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Mamanyt1953

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I wholeheartedly concur with the loud yelp or hiss tactic. Well, the others as well, but I've used that with excellent results. With my Hek, it was a hiss. She was dumped on me at just short of 5 weeks old, barely eating, and NO clue of manners. When she got rough, I'd hiss at her. I lost her early this year, after nearly 16 years together, and until the day she left, a hiss would stop her from doing whatever she had gotten into. It's going to take some time to break a bad habit, but it is doable. CONSISTENCY IS THE KEY!
 

di and bob

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I agree with the above, I have had great luck with 'scruffing', taking the cat by the loose skin on the back of the neck and holding them still until they stop struggling, saying NO firmly and hissing at them. Mama cats do this when the kittens get out of control. DO NOT lift a cat this way, if you do have to make sure you support their weight with your other hand. You may have to lift the front feet off the ground to stop a wildly struggling cat. I have had to pill cats using this method when all else failed. If the cat comes right back at you, do it again, and again until he has the idea. It is what the cat understands, and pulling at the neck skin instinctively quiets them.
 

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A high pitched EEP was all that was needed here. Its cat-speak for you're hurting me!

Put cat did some feet attacks (play) and we went "eeep eeep EEP". Cat didnt do ir again.

However we also get lots of wrestle toys for them.
 

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I'm in the minority, here, because I like to hand-play with my cats. However, there is a caveat: Wrestling with a cat is like playing rugby. You wouldn't play rugby if you didn't expect to get a few bumps, bruises, concussions or even broken bones. If you don't accept the risks, don't set foot on a rugby pitch. The same for playing with cats. If you don't accept the fact that you will get scratched up, bitten and, quite possibly shed some blood, don't teach your cat to wrestle.

Okay, that horse is already out of the barn, so to speak... What do you do?

If you don't want your cat to play hands, don't let him. Don't engage. Don't encourage. Discourage him when he tries.
Play with him by using wand toys, instead. You can use kitty lasers. Many cats like to play with their humans using fishing poles. Basically, I agree with the things that others say above.

If you want to allow hand play, you are going to have to set some rules. If one party wants to play, the other party must have the option to decide whether they want to play. If not? Don't try to force it. Maybe another time. If you are playing and one party wants to stop, the other must back off. The same thing goes if the play gets to rough. You can tell the cat, "Play nice!" but, if he doesn't, it's game over. The cat has the right to say "Game over!" any time they want.

Our two cats, Casper and Elliot are allowed to play hands. Both of them are very good sports when they play.
Casper is older so he doesn't play much. He never was a player, anyhow, but the most you'll get out of him is a quick tussle then he's done.
Elliot is younger. He likes to wrestle every day before I go to work. When he wrestles, he DOES use his claws but he knows just how hard to play. You'll know it when he grabs you but it's barely enough to leave a mark on your skin. When he's had enough, he'll dig in with his claws a little bit more. That's his "Game Over" signal. When he signals "Game Over" it is wise to let him go. He'll give you three strikes but, after that, if you keep trying to wrestle with him... You'll get what you deserve!

The thing is... We've had Elliot for a year and we've laid down the rules, virtually, from day one. We've learned his rules, too. We know how Elliot likes to wrestle and Elliot knows how we like to wrestle.

Your cat is still young enough to teach the rules to. We got Elliot when he was a year old. He learned the rules pretty quickly.

Whether your House Rules say that wrestling is allowed or they say that wrestling is not allowed, I'm pretty sure your guy will learn, soon enough, if you just down the rules and stick to them.

If your cat is like our cat, it shouldn't take more than a month or two for him to start learning the House Rules. By the time he comes around for another year, he should be an old pro. :)
 

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Carlos (he's gorgeous, by the way!) is in the throes of being a teenager right now, testing the boundaries between you two... so it is likely the best time you will ever have to start setting new boundaries, or else some of this behavior will last into adulthood. A good time to make extra efforts to follow all of the great advice above!
 

Kwik

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Hi- oooops,bad habit but fortunately not one that's hard to break

Since my meager beginnings started off handling & training BIG cats is a good thing I didn't have to learn from my own mistakes and had great teachers but one thing I was taught early on is the mistake made by many- a catt( both big and small) has to understand that you are not a cat....having said that it might work out well with some things to learn how to use " cat language" but it's best they also learn that humans are not to be trifled with and then they are unlikely to test boundaries as they do with other cats

A Alldara mentioned the loud ' eeep" sound or any high pitch sound or a very sharp " no" - it's startling an unfamiliar to a cat,very effective and not a sound they like - being startled of course they are distracted and thsts a good time to get up,go get a wander toy or Lazer pointer and get them to fixate on something other than you and some way to offer reward...... correction is only half measurd,reward is the other half

I have a dear friend who has sprayed herself from the knees down with citrus cat deterrent which quickly put an end to her little ambush,ankle biting,wrestler who liked latching on to her calves like he wanted to disembowel her legs! Quite effective to " taste " terrible to a biter and very quickly they realize you are not a cat to bite and wrestle with

Scuffing is a good measure unless it aggravates the particular cat even further- you'll notice some cats with try to grab another cats scruff and some with get even more defensive,others will relent as though it was Mama cat picking up a pre- adolescent kitten that goes " limp: as a reflex action- by the time they are adolescents its no longer " relaxation" but behavioral " shutdown"- quite extreme difference so do note the reaction becsuse it is a harsh correction

I hope this is all helpful to you but as I and others have all agreed- whatever method you use you must be consistent- training is " consistency " ,repetitious action that has the same result every time,positive or negative and most every cat quickly learns not to repeat an action that results in anything unpleasant

Let us know how Carlos is doing- and I must say he is absolutely adorably delightful to look at,that's one beautiful little boy! And since he likes to play with you so very much you might want to teach him some things that are very pleasing to you like jumping up on cat tree shelves for a treat and some high praise or like my Sami who was so very young with no Mama to teach him manners he could've easily been a scratcher & biter himself but I trained him to " scratch" his sisal poles on command and he just goes to town on them to please me and earn a treat - " bite bite,bite the mouse " is another one when he'd try to bite my hand or fingers and I'd shove a little furry mouse in his mouth ! Lol
It's pretty cute now that he's older and I say " bite the mouse" - he runs,finds a mouse and shakes it to death in his teeth like a dog ..... turn his natural instincts into " on command" tricks and you'll both be happy❤❤❤
 

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Good advice in this thread. I too have found that handing my cats kicker toys (they like the Yeeeow rainbow, banana or catnip stuffed candy cane, for instance) when they went after my hands as kittens did the trick. It’s like, “You can’t have that, but you can have THIS.”

They liked to play with my hair too, but I had a zero-tolerance policy on that because of its proximity to my face. If the cat tries to play with your hair, just say “No” or cry out and withdraw your presence from the room immediately. The cat will get the message.

Some cats can get overstimulated really easily so it’s important to watch their body language as you’re petting them. Rapidly flicking tail or dilating pupils are some signs I look for. You always want to end on a high note with pats, and stop while they’re still feeling good about it but before it crosses over into too much.
 

Kwik

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Good advice in this thread. I too have found that handing my cats kicker toys (they like the Yeeeow rainbow, banana or catnip stuffed candy cane, for instance) when they went after my hands as kittens did the trick. It’s like, “You can’t have that, but you can have THIS.”

They liked to play with my hair too, but I had a zero-tolerance policy on that because of its proximity to my face. If the cat tries to play with your hair, just say “No” or cry out and withdraw your presence from the room immediately. The cat will get the message.

Some cats can get overstimulated really easily so it’s important to watch their body language as you’re petting them. Rapidly flicking tail or dilating pupils are some signs I look for. You always want to end on a high note with pats, and stop while they’re still feeling good about it but before it crosses over into too much.
That's right,a positive reinforcement- they catch on very quickly to what you just said" you can have this instead of my hand" It works

Zero tolerance is important because cats cannot differentiate or reason that a little is okay but alot isnt ,great point
 

Caspers Human

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Zero tolerance is important because cats cannot differentiate or reason that a little is okay but alot isnt
IMO, consistency is the key. Zero tolerance, yes, but it's more important to be consistent. Like you say, cats don't understand the difference between a little and a lot. In a cat's mind, it's all or nothing. However, the WAY you teach the rules and the way you enforce them has to be the exact, same thing every time.

If a cat behaves the way you want... BOOM! Pets! Praise! Love! Attention! Reward! Instantly!
If a cat misbehaves... No pets, praise, rewards! Tell them "No!" Again, the moment it happens.

If you aren't absolutely consistent, the cat will only become confused and it will take a lot longer to learn the rules, if ever.
 

Kwik

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IMO, consistency is the key. Zero tolerance, yes, but it's more important to be consistent. Like you say, cats don't understand the difference between a little and a lot. In a cat's mind, it's all or nothing. However, the WAY you teach the rules and the way you enforce them has to be the exact, same thing every time.

If a cat behaves the way you want... BOOM! Pets! Praise! Love! Attention! Reward! Instantly!
If a cat misbehaves... No pets, praise, rewards! Tell them "No!" Again, the moment it happens.

If you aren't absolutely consistent, the cat will only become confused and it will take a lot longer to learn the rules, if ever.
Spot on- absolutely 100%
 
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Shawna87

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Hey everyone! Thank you so much for your insight. I started to hiss at him when he bites or scratches me. He stops immediately and usually looks at me. He’ll then walk away from me. I don’t want to be discouraging him to not interact with me and he seems to hate when I hiss. I’m going to start trying to hiss when he swats at and bites my hair. He chewed a chunk of it off yesterday when he swatted at my face and had his claw imbedded in my face. I had to get someone’s help to get his claw out and in the process he chewed my hair off.

It’s so hard to be consistent. I’ve been consistent with hissing when he bites me but the hair swatting I haven’t been.

Everyone’s advice has been so helpful to me! Thank you again!
 
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