Please help me solve my bitey kitten issues!

OllieOllieBoy

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Hi guys! This is my first post on this forum, and hopefully one that'll be really helpful. So I have a lovable little guy who came to me from unfortunate circumstances. I attached his pics below!
My kitten's name is Ollie, he is my first and only cat, and I got him when he was 6 weeks old from people that wanted to dump him. I have no idea what his background was, but he came to me malnourished, unsocialized, full of fleas, and with an URI. The only things I knew about his past was that he was the runt of the litter, and the people were hoarders -- he was basically out in the open unseparated from their many dogs and cats. I have no idea if he was physically abused or not (I suspect he was given his behaviour). I tackled his health problems quite aggressively and can say that he's now a big, long 6 month old teenager!
Ever since I got him though, he's had problems with biting. Sometimes it would be him trying to play with my hands, and other times it would be aggression that would come out of nowhere and he's left quite a few marks on my arms. It mostly occurs when I am sitting down, and sometimes happens when I am holding him. In the instances when I am holding him, he will act completely calm and purr and nuzzle and I know very well not to overstimulate him, but all of a sudden his head will perk up and he'll viciously bite. I tried just about everything to curb it --- I even went to the vet but he was completely unhelpful, and even would refuse to neuter him until just a week ago. I tried redirecting, giving him kitty timeouts, trying to cry and squeal "ow!" to tell him it hurt, even went as far as hissing and growling if he bit. All of it has been for naught. I've now been really persistent at trying to simply say "NO!" when he gets his aggressive episodes, and then quietly getting up and walking out of the room calmly and isolating myself from him for a good 5-30 minutes depending on the extent of his biting. It will work for a bit and he'll be perfectly demure and allow me to pet him, but within an hour he'll go right back to biting.
I dedicate about 1-2hrs average on playing with him, feed him a good quality diet (mostly wet food with dry food left out when I'm gone), he's the only cat in the apartment, and there are no loud neighbours or triggers I'm aware of for his episodes. If anyone could please offer me some advice, I'd deeply appreciate it!!
PS -- I had brought up adopting a second kitten with my landlord, but I am strictly only allowed the 1. I thought a second would help teach biting inhibition, but its not an option as far as my landlord is concerned. :(
 

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Furballsmom

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Hi! Welcome!!

He's a kitten, with all that kitten energy. From what I'm reading in your post I don't think he was actually abused, but he wasn't socialized and didn't have his mama and siblings to help him learn how to behave. With your repeated action, he'll grow out of it :)

It will work for a bit and he'll be perfectly demure and allow me to pet him, but within an hour he'll go right back to biting.
I've now been really persistent at trying to simply say "NO!" when he gets his aggressive episodes, and then quietly getting up and walking out of the room calmly and isolating myself from him for a good 5-30 minutes depending on the extent of his biting
...and then you need to repeat what you do, every single time, consistently. He'll get it, he's quite smart, but it's like breaking a habit in that it won't happen immediately that he'll stop. You're on the absolute right track though, hang in there!
 

BlackCatOp

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What a cute kitty! I have been owned by cats all my life but one of my biggest pet peeves with my cats is biting behavior. I cannot tolerate it! However, I feel that some cats are just more inclined to bite – one of my cats can get nippy when he is given too much petting or is petted in a certain area. I would definitely suggest not playing with your hands with him. I know it can be fun to rough-house with your hands but it is confusing to kitty. (When are hands toys and when are they not??) I am sorry your veterinarian did not offer any advice to curb this behavior, as a soon to be vet, I feel behavioral issues are just as important as medical ones. I would also suggest to continue to ignore the behavior (remove him from lap/stop petting) when he bites and also pay attention to any trends with his biting. Is it when you pet/touch a certain area??

Good luck and thanks for rescuing him!
 
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OllieOllieBoy

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Hi BlackCatOp, thanks for the advice! I actually don't play with my hands at all with him (always use wand or stringy toy to put distance), its just something he did from day one I'm afraid. And there are no areas that trigger it, either. Sometimes I'll just sit on the couch watching TV or playing games and not even touching him, and he'll pounce and chomp down hard on my hand out of nowhere.

@Fullballsmom, thank you also!! Good to hear I'm on the right track at least. And good to know he doesn't sound abused either. Although I do wish the people previously raising him would have kept the family together longer
 

Furballsmom

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Although I do wish the people previously raising him would have kept the family together longer
Me too, but all in all, he's better with you :heartshape:

Oh, have you tried hissing - especially when he does the pounce/bite out of nowhere (which is totally a kitten thing)? That's what his mama would do, and it's something he would understand, I think. Granted there are some kittens who seem oblivious, but again, stay the course and be consistent :)
 
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OllieOllieBoy

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Hey Fullballsmom, yeah I tried the hissing thing! At first he was taken aback, but now he couldn't care less if I hiss. He still attempts. The rascal! lol
 

Furballsmom

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Hang in there! Let us know how things go with him - oh, would you be able to take him outside in an enclosed buggy (i'm not sure about a harness and leash with him yet?), or if you have access to a yard, a cat mesh tent? That might help give his active little mind something else to work on :)
 

She's a witch

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Such biting is - unfortunately for their humans - very natural in kittens, if you watch them play with each other, you’d see they bite a lot. And through such play they learn from one another when they bite too strongly and what is and what’s not unacceptable in play. What happened to your kitten is a perfect example why in some countries (and some American shelters, too) it’s not possible to adopt a single kitten, they always have to go in pairs; they do need a company to properly develop and minimize many risk of behavioral problems. Especially when kitten was separated from their family so early, the company of another kitten would have been wonderful for him to learn to play nicely. It’s probably not too late though, and if you can adopt another kitten, yours would have a play partner and someone from his own species that would teach him manners.
 

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I have been dealing with biting issues too with my 15month old. I think Puar's previous carer had tougher skin than me as he did mention the playful biting behavior but not as if it was really a painful problem. Inn the past couple of weeks of following the advice I got on this site (going "ah!" in a hurt tone when he bites), he has gradually bitten softer. He will bite after being pet a little too much to his liking. It's totally unpredictable at the moment (how many licks to the center of the kitty bite reflex), so to have the "ah!" training working is quite a relief.

The behavior that I'm still struggling with is when he catches me on the toilet (lol) he has a fascination with rolling around on the bathroom tile and becomes playful, then rolls into my feet and it's bite city. I go "Ah!" and he goes for the other leg. I suspect he's getting carried away with whatever euphoria he's getting from rubbing on the tiles, but it's kinda annoying because I'm in a precarious position! If I lift my foot, he thinks we're playing. If I don't lift my foot, he doesn't seem to hear the "ah!"s. I can't lock him out of the bathroom either (though I wish I could) because he gets really vocal and I'm in a small apartment!
 
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