Please, Help Me Save My Aggressive Kitty!!!

Discussion in 'Cat Behavior' started by cagregg, Oct 12, 2017.

  1. cagregg

    cagregg Thread Starter TCS Member Kitten

    Oct 12, 2017
    My girlfriend and I have raised a stray kitten, his name is Bing Bong. We love him very much, however, he has begun to bite and ankle-grab (particularly my girlfriend) and the distress it has caused her puts pressure on me to make the choice between them- and it would have to be my poor Bing that gets the boot...

    Bing was approx 2 months old when I found him, extremely sweet, never bit or ankle-grabbed, slept all day, and was VERY hungry. He seemed to have a low-response to external stimuli (i.e., snap next to his ear, no response of any kind), but this diminished around the time I moved into my new house (when he was approx. 3 months old).

    Bing is currently approx 5 months old, and is displaying the aggressive behaviors I listed in my introduction. He was living at the original house for a very short time, and I don't feel the move had anything to do with his mood changes. He has a self-feeder so is not hungry. He has plenty of high spaces to climb in the rafters of our loft, but I may be able to make it more accessible for him . He has plenty of toys and designated places to sleep. We have attempted many forms of discipline including taps on the nose, but are currently saying "ouch" loudly and attempting to remove ourselves from the room and ignore him.

    His aggressive behavior seems to be playful, but his bites and scratches leave bleeding wounds and my hands prove this. I ignore him more successfully than my girlfriend who reacts similarly to prey when he attacks her (i.e., screams and runs).

    Any advice regarding the correction of Bing Bong's behaviors would be greatly appreciated by myself, and Bing!!! Please let me know if anyone needs any additional information.

    Thank you,

  2. duncanmac

    duncanmac TCS Member Adult Cat

    Feb 22, 2017
    Bing Bong is doing what most kittens without littermates do - he's playing aggressively, "play biting". Usually his brothers and sisters would beat him up if he played too rough - but he hasn't had that feedback. There are a lot of articles on how to stop play biting and Jackson Galaxy has a video or two. The condensed version is to redirect his attention, ignore him and get him a playmate. Every article ended with "get him a playmate," that should be the biggest hint as to what really needs to happen.

    We had this problem with Duncan. My wife and I would both wear socks and slippers around the house all the time, play with him until he collapsed and ignore him if he bit. Nothing worked, he was still a happy little knucklehead with no self control. Getting him a cat helped. After a longish introduction due to a shy cat, they both used up a lot of energy chasing, boxing and wrestling. The play biting diminished quickly after they were introduced - Duncan's attention was diverted from us to the new guy.

    If it makes your girlfriend feel any better, the fact that he has chosen to attack her means that he likes her. It is kind of backwards, but as Duncan warmed up to my wife, he went from cautious and tolerant to bitey.
    cagregg purraised this.
  3. margd

    margd Chula and Paul's roommate Staff Member Advisor

    Feb 24, 2015
    Maryland USA
    Has Bing Bong been neutered? If not, that is step one since it will reduce some of his aggression. That still leaves you with the problem of coping with what has become a bad habit on his part.

    First, try to impress upon your girlfriend that she is perpetuating Bing Bong's behavior problems by screaming and running. You're exactly right that this activates his prey drive. The odds of him stopping the attacks while she continues to do this are very slim since Bing Bong finds her reaction delightful and, having learned how to trigger it, will continue amusing himself this way. I know he's hurting her and can understand her instinctive response is to flee but if she can only overcome that response, it will pay off in the long run for all three of you. She will no longer get attacked, you will get to keep your kitty and Bing Bong will get to keep his home.

    You and your girlfriend shouldn't leave the room, Bing Bong should. While we like to laugh and say that our cats are the actual bosses in our homes, there is a limit. Continue to say “No" in a loud firm voice, free of anger, and put him in the bathroom or other room with a closed door. Don't leave him there for more than a minute or two since extending the time won't do anything to help him make the connection between his behavior and his banishment. The idea is to stop the activity and prevent him from immediately coming back and doing it again.

    You can also use sound to startle him and cause him to stop his assaults on his own. (Still say "NO," however.) Some people use canned air for this, remembering to never point it at the cat. Another thing that might help is to get a can of Feliway spray, and spray it. This has two functions — the sound of the spraying might break his concentration and the calming properties of the spray itself might calm him down a bit.

    Whenever he voluntarily leaves your ankles or hands alone after you say "No," be sure to give him a treat or two as a reward.

    Many kittens who bite at ankles or hands the way Bing Bong is doing were separated from their mothers and litter mates at too young an age. You don't know what Bing Bong's very early history is, but if he was separated from them while still very young, he missed the lessons in which litter mates and mom taught him this kind of biting is not okay.

    Here are some articles that might help you deal with Bing Bong's behavior:

    The Dos And Don'ts Of Cat Behavior Modification
    How To Deal With Cat "love Bites"?
    How To Stop Playtime Aggression In Cats

    I see that I've cross-posted with @duncanmac who mentions another possible solution, namely get another cat. This is a great idea and one worth carefully considering. Bing Bong may respond very well to having a playmate.

    Finally, after all the words above, I'd like to extend a warm welcome to both you, your girlfriend and Bing Bong!

    cagregg and Levioosa purraised this.
  4. Shane Kent

    Shane Kent Crazy Cat Gentleman Super Cat

    May 9, 2016
    Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
    First and foremost stop trying to discipline him. Take my word for it, I learned the hard way it doesn't work. There is an article on this site about it and I wish I had read this 4 years ago when I got my cat Taz. Trying to discipline him only ever made things worse.

    This is the article on discipline and cats, you can click or touch the title it will take you to the article.

    Cats And Discipline Don't Mix

    Another article I wish I read 4 years ago.

    You, Your Cat And Stress

    I believe very strongly in the article about You, your cat and stress. A good example is when it comes time to put our cats in their carriers. My wife cannot do it, she gets stressed out along with the cats and it is a nightmare. I get her to leave the room and I am very calm about it and don't have nearly the problem she does. Take my word for it cats will pick up on your anxiety and make things worse. Need to step back and take a deep breathe if the cat is stressing you out. Same with your girlfriend.

    As for aggression. Aggression can be a sign that the cat is in pain, cats are good at hiding pain so you may not even realize it. Should always take a cat in for a checkup if dealing with behavior issues because the cat may have a very good reason for having an issue. Same with stress. If the cat is stressed out it has a good reason for having a behavior issue. So many things can stress a cat out. Loud noises, strong scents, the scent of another cat, the sight of another cat out the window on what it feels is it's territory, the type of litter or even where you put the litter.

    Re-directed Aggression In Cats

    Solving Cat Behavior Problems: The Key Ingredient

    Is Your Cat Stressed Out?

    Potential Stressors In Cats - The Ultimate Checklist

    Six Surefire Strategies To Reduce Stress In Cats

    There are a lot of helpful articles on this site which have helped me immensely. You can go to the article section and search for aggression, stress, litter, play time, etc.
    cagregg and margd purraised this.
  5. Willowy

    Willowy TCS Member Top Cat

    Mar 1, 2009
    South Dakota
    He's a teenage boy and is in that very naughty stage. He needs a good outlet for his energy. I recommend that you get a Da Bird toy and use it extensively. You want to get him playing so hard that he "flops" when he's done, at least 3 or 4 times a day. A large stuffed animal for him to wrestle with would be good, too. Shove it at him whenever he looks like he's about to start something so he can attack the toy instead of a human. If he's really in a mood put him in another room until he calms down. Lure him in with treats if he's too wound up to let you pick him up.

    And, yeah, if he's not neutered yet now is the time. You don't want to have to deal with hormones too.

    He'll eventually mature to be a fine loving kitty. IF you don't get aggressive with him. That's what turns cats mean most of the time. Just be patient and remember that you, too, were once a rotten teenager ;).
    cagregg and margd purraised this.
  6. cagregg

    cagregg Thread Starter TCS Member Kitten

    Oct 12, 2017
  7. cagregg

    cagregg Thread Starter TCS Member Kitten

    Oct 12, 2017

    Thank you SO MUCH for the reply.

    I can't express how much you've helped my situation!

    We have plenty of room for Bing's soon-to-be playmate in the new house. Also, my girlfriend loved and got really got kick out of your last piece of information!

    Thanks again from all three of us!

    Consider yourself the godfather of Bing Bong's new brother or sister!

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