Cat communicating with teeth

Juniper_Junebug

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Juno (1+ yo) has been a little bitey for a while, mostly in retaliation for my doing something she doesn't like, such as removing her from the counter. It seems premeditated-- she'll make like she's waking away and then come back and lightly attack my ankles. But recently it's gotten worse.

At least once a day, often more, she will place herself between me and my keyboard and start to meow loudly, which is unusual for her. I have no idea what she wants. It happens outside meals times and often when we've already played for the morning or evening. I pet her, and sometimes that satisfies her, but other times I can tell she wants something else and is too agitated to be pet (tail flicking). She will stare hungrily at my hands and eventually bite, unless I physically leave the area. Which I can't really do since it's in the middle of the work day. I sometimes swivel my chair so I face away from her for a short while, reading that that can be a deterrent, but it's rinse and repeat once I turn back around. She usually doesn't bite hard but today she did.

She just had a clean bill of health at the vet so it seems behavioral. I feel so impotent, not understanding what she's trying to tell me, nor how to prevent her from biting me.
 

StefanZ

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Re the biting; blowing on nose as she does bite is effective. Ouching and or making angry noises may help too.

But your riddle is; why she is doing so...

I dunno, but having a companion; cat or even dog, would perhaps help?
 
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Juniper_Junebug

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Re the biting; blowing on nose as she does bite is effective. Ouching and or making angry noises may help too.

But your riddle is; why she is doing so...

I dunno, but having a companion; cat or even dog, would perhaps help?
I do worry that this may be related to her being an only cat, but I really really don't want another cat. And I also think she'd potentially be terrible with another cat. When I brought home an unusually realistic stuffed kitty, she attacked it nonstop.

Another new thing she also does: occasionally, instead of or in addition to biting me, she will bop me on the top of my head three times quite vigorously (kind of the way she bopped the fake kitty in the face). I admit that it cracks me up, which is not a useful reaction. But she is really worked up about something.

And yet she otherwise seems happy. She's currently making biscuits in my lap, which she does on the daily.
 

FeebysOwner

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Hi. I have had 3 cats who were 'only cats' and while that doesn't necessarily mean anything, it would seem many cats can be happy being an only child. I currently have a head bumper, but that is when she is looking for attention that she may not actually even really want. She will head bump me and so I will try to pet her and yet she moves away. That happens mostly at night when I am in bed, so I am not about to try some of the techniques I have suggested below.

Look for other stressors if you don't think it is food, play, or 'bored' related. Maybe this her way of telling you she senses 'danger' outside, another animal/unusual noises/etc. Maybe you've moved furniture around in the house, or bought some new furniture, either of which she finds - for whatever reason - 'annoying' when she passes by that area?

You might also consider other forms of entertainment for her - bird/squirrel videos, bird feeders outside one of her favorite windows, automated toys that 'randomly' activate. Maybe even some cat music to see if that could help to calm her down a bit.

You know there is a reason, so perhaps start logging each event and see if you can find a pattern.
 
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Juniper_Junebug

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Hi. I have had 3 cats who were 'only cats' and while that doesn't necessarily mean anything, it would seem many cats can be happy being an only child. I currently have a head bumper, but that is when she is looking for attention that she may not actually even really want. She will head bump me and so I will try to pet her and yet she moves away. That happens mostly at night when I am in bed, so I am not about to try some of the techniques I have suggested below.

Look for other stressors if you don't think it is food, play, or 'bored' related. Maybe this her way of telling you she senses 'danger' outside, another animal/unusual noises/etc. Maybe you've moved furniture around in the house, or bought some new furniture, either of which she finds - for whatever reason - 'annoying' when she passes by that area?

You might also consider other forms of entertainment for her - bird/squirrel videos, bird feeders outside one of her favorite windows, automated toys that 'randomly' activate. Maybe even some cat music to see if that could help to calm her down a bit.

You know there is a reason, so perhaps start logging each event and see if you can find a pattern.
Her tantrums have coincided with the disappearance of birds from my deck (though with a bit of a delay). I had to take down my bird feeder at the start of the summer, for bird health reasons. I've recently put it back up but the birds have not yet returned.

I bought some new automated toys to try give her stuff to do while I work. And I set her outside in a tent sometimes, which lets her see more birds.

It's just strange how insistent she is. She's never really been like that before.
 
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Juniper_Junebug

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Today, Juno started in on the offensive behavior not but 30 or 60 minutes after we had played. Each time she went for my hand, I took her down to her safe room and kept her in there for a few minutes. If my home layout were different, I could just shut her out of my office each time, and I think she'd learn quicker, but my office is in the loft area of a large open living space, so I have to carry down to her room. And sadly, if this persists, I will have to keep her in her room for longer periods of time so I can work. Or go into the office more.

I did read another recent post about status aggression, but she doesn't display those characteristics outside this one context, and even then, although her tail is flicking a little, her ears and pupils are normal. I only know she's going to "attack" based on her recent pattern of behavior when on my desk.

I remain convinced that she's trying to communicate with me through her biting (versus reacting out of overstimulation or status or play aggression). Anyone else have experience with this?
 

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All of the articles I have read about biting, they all say the same thing - the cat is biting for a reason. Well, I know you know that, but you need to keep investigating what the reason might be. Most biting can be tied back to a reason much easier than your case is going to be, apparently. I know I am giving you ZERO help, but there is something going on with her that she wants you to know about and biting is her way to get your attention for whatever that is. I agree this doesn't come across as status, over-stimulation or aggression biting. In your situation the reason is much more subtle and therefore is going to take some serious analysis/study on your part.

I also agree that taking her all the way to down to her room is probably going to lessen the impression you are tying to leave upon her. Any chance you have a bathroom that is closer by? A small closet you could clean out for the time being? Tbh, her safe room should be a separate place from her 'time out' room just so she doesn't get confused.

EDIT: Maybe see if this article might have some clues??? (It isn't just about senior cats, despite the title.)
Why Does My Cat Bite Me for No Reason? — Senior Cat Wellness
 
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kakers

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I have one that does some biting, though it's less frequent now. With mine it's definitely a sign of boredom or wanting to play, and it's been improving a lot! When I see him get that look, I try to proactively distract him with a toy or something to interest him. He's still separated from our other cats so that may be letting him into the bathroom to switch them so he can get the run of the house but often it's just throwing toys for him or grabbing a wand toy or even just raising the blinds on a window. We have a variety of toys, sometimes he has his preferences where he is more interested in certain toys and other days it's a totally different toy. And yes he also does this if we have already played. He's gotten much better about signaling without biting either with the look he gives me or sometimes he will bat me with his paw (no claws.) Sometimes he starts like he's going to bite but stops before making contact. When he does bite I separate us. Initially I had been redirecting him to a toy but his biting improved much more when I started to just remove either myself or him from the situation every time, even just for a few minutes. With yours meowing loudly at you luckily that means you have something to watch for that typically happens before biting so you can respond to the meow.

I do agree that carrying yours all the way to her room may not be getting the point across as well since she is getting direct attention from you carrying her the whole way there, but it's better than nothing and if petting isn't preventing the bite it's probably not physical touch she wanted to begin with.

So basically my method is
1- do my best to proactively distract which involves keeping a toy or two within reach that I can toss quickly. So you'd want to keep at least a couple toys at your desk.
2- if that doesn't work or I'm not fast enough and he bites, I say "no" and separate (him in a bathroom or I leave his room depending on where we are.) For you that may still be bringing her to her room or may be a closer room if you have one for just a few minutes.

My husband mostly still just redirects and he still is getting teeth much more than I am. I think the key has been the very clear difference- biting will lead to more boredom and less attention, anything but biting will lead to play or something else entertaining.

For the first example you gave where it's a reaction to something specific, since that seems to be communicating something different it probably will take a different approach. Distracting by throwing something could also work but if not what I'd do is have a kicker type toy to direct her to. I think of it as "I can tell you're annoyed here's something you can bite and kick to let your frustration out." And I would literally put it right in her face before she got to my ankle.
 
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