Is Your Cat a Biter?

Discussion in 'Cat Chat' started by Novelangel, Apr 7, 2016.

  1. Novelangel

    Novelangel Active Member

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    I have a problem with my 3 year old calico, Callie-sue. She is and always has been a biter, and I don't mean little love nibbles either. She bites as hard as she can and will clench her jaw until I grab the loose skin at the back of her neck. That makes her let go but she'll scowl at me hatefully afterward.

    My arms and hands have been bitten so many times that I scarcely even feel it anymore, but that's not my issue. What I want to know is what can I try to get her to stop doing this, or at least to tone it down a bit?

    A little more information: She doesn't always bite this hard out of anger. She's a roughneck kind of cat and loves to play rough, so she will start out biting just a little but it always grows into full out bone crunching chomping.

    I have done so much research on this topic, to no avail. One cat site suggested I growl at her when she bites too hard as that is what other cats would do. That worked for about two bites and then she considered it part of the game. Another site said to just ignore her and not play with her anymore, but that just makes her lunge for my hands as they are the target for her.

    Suffice it to say, I have followed all the advice I've found and nothing has cured this problem. Do any of you have a better suggestion that could give me some relief from my favorite cat's favorite hobby: biting?
     
    Novelangel, Apr 7, 2016
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  2. Novelangel

    Susan Brown Well-Known Member

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    I am sorry to hear that you are dealing with that. Cat bites can be very painful. My older cat never bites but the younger one does on occasion but he never draws blood. I am not sure how you could solve this problem. Perhaps others in the group may have a suggestion for you.
     
    Susan Brown, Apr 7, 2016
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  3. Novelangel

    Novelangel Active Member

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    Thank you, Susan. I see now that there is a similar thread in here called I Have a Biter! I will check that one out and see if anyone has any suggestions that I can use. :)
     
    Novelangel, Apr 13, 2016
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  4. Novelangel

    Trellum Well-Known Member

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    Rub yourself with mentol oil... that will surely help. Cats hate that kind of smell, she will surely not feel like biting you anymore if she senses that smell. You can try with other smells cats hate, there is a thread on the subject as well (smells cats hate). After a while this might stop her from doing it, to the point you will not need to apply said oil anymore.
     
    Trellum, Apr 13, 2016
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  5. Novelangel

    Novelangel Active Member

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    Thank you for that advice, Trellum. I will try that. I once tried rubbing similarly foul-smelling stuff on the window screens because I was told that cats wouldn't climb them if the screens smelled funny, but it didn't work. She just sniffed it, made a face and climbed anyway. Now I just keep the windows closed almost all the way in the summer, so she can't get a grip on it. That's the only thing that has worked to date. Hopefully, she won't try to bite me if I smell "icky".
     
    Novelangel, Apr 20, 2016
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  6. Novelangel

    Trellum Well-Known Member

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    Was it mentol oil? If it wasn't i'd not discard the idea, cats seem to really hate the smell and taste of that, I highly doubt she will feel like biting you ever again after a couple of times of smelling and tasting that ;) Tough love.
     
    Trellum, Apr 20, 2016
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  7. Novelangel

    Novelangel Active Member

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    Not specifically menthol oil, no. I think I used Petroleum Jelly, if I'm not mistaken. I can't remember if the advice I received mentioned using that or not, but at any rate, whatever I used didn't work on little Miss Stubborn. She just sniffed it, wrinkled up her nose and proceeded to climb the window anyway. She just looked at me, like, "okay, mom. Whatever you want to put on the window is fine with me."
     
    Novelangel, Apr 26, 2016
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  8. Novelangel

    GabbyTheTabby Member

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    Cats don't usually bite to be malicious. Usually when a cat bites like this its playing, it just doesn't have the same cognitive reasoning you do. Cats are instinct animals, not thinking animals, and that's important to understand. Its not that they don't think, they do, and are usually very clever, but cats rely on instinct more than cognitive thought - something that's hard for us to understand because we're the other way 'round.

    So your cat is playing with you, or trying too, and playing too rough (usually this is the case. The biting can be malicious, but usually isn't). So how does a cat react when its kitten plays too card? React the same way. When your cat plays to hard, make an angry noise and lunge a little bit. Trigger your cat's instinct. "Oh, I was playing too hard."

    Gabby used to bite too hard, now she doesn't and play times are much more enjoyable.

    Another useful thing to remember is that 99% of cats do not know they are your pets, studies suggest that they likely have no comprehension of other animals as meaningfully different from themselves, and they do not think they are your children. They think they're your roommates, and they will determine the "pecking order" of the house, and if they feel they can be the dominant cat, they will absolutely attempt to do so. Like any animal, it is important to remember that your cat - precious and loved as it is - is a cat. Its an animal. An especially wild one, at that.

    Most dogs are only 1 generation away from being domesticated, including a lot of breeds of wolf! Cats are the exact opposite, and are only one generation away from being completely feral and wild. These are important things to keep in mind when dealing with cat behavior. They're animals, they're instinctive, and they're predators.

    So get in your cat's 'head space' and react like a pride leader would if she plays too hard. Have you ever heard a cat growl? Look it up on youtube if not. Growling can be very effective at ending unwanted behavior - though growling too much can be damaging and lead to your cat not trusting or wanting to be around you, so caution with that one.

    But if your cat bites to hard, let a yelp out, growl and lunge forward a bit. Let your cat know the behavior is not acceptable. Like I said, they're instinctive so you have to interact with them on that level, but they're clever, so they'll quickly learn where they can and can't push boundaries.
     
    GabbyTheTabby, May 3, 2016
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  9. Novelangel

    Novelangel Active Member

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    Believe it or not, GabbyTheTabby, I have read about what you suggest before and have attempted to put it into effect. The lunging and growling only serves to make her more hostile. Her ears go back, her eyes get wide and she starts to focus even more deliberately on attacking my hands. If I yelp in pain, that usually helps somewhat, because then she feels sorry and will 'kiss' me with her tongue. But, after the kiss I'll typically get more biting, although it's usually a bit more gentle at that point. She goes from gentle to Freddy Krueger pretty fast though. Hissing back at her when she hisses at me has absolutely no effect at all, and I can only control her by reaching around with my other hand and grasping the loose skin at the back of her neck. She fears that second hand almost as if I routinely hit her with it, which I don't. If I put the second hand into play and come nowhere near her with it, she will react by letting go and pulling back. However, I think I should sometimes carry through with the act of grabbing her by the back of the neck just to let her know the threat is always there. She does think she's the dominant cat and proves it by never wanting to allow me to place my hand on top of her paw. She will always pull that paw out and slap it down on top of my hand as if to say, "I'm the boss here and don't you forget it."
     
    Novelangel, May 16, 2016
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  10. Novelangel

    CrazyCatLady74 Member

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    Our Siamese cat is definitely a biter. One thing he does I think is funny is when he snuggles with my husband (I adopted this cat and he turned on me and adopted my husband) and he will nibble his arm while my husband pets him. It's like a love bite or something. Me on the other hand if I start petting him after about a minute he will start trying to bite the crap out of me. He's just plain weird sometimes. He is also aggressive with my other two cats. He tries to bite my female cat on the neck like male cats do when they are trying to mate. And he and my female cat are both fixed. I have no idea what the heck that is about. I attached a picture of him biting my little gray baby. He can be such a jerk!
     

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    CrazyCatLady74, May 22, 2016
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  11. Novelangel

    acheno84 Member

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    I have a cat that is a biter and she goes for blood immediately. We did, however, play a lot of hand games with her when she was younger and I think that now she thinks that they're toys. She's also a grouch and very opinionated, so even just trying to pet her was a challenge. You might get your hand on her head but she will snap around a bite and keep coming back for more. We got to where we couldn't even pet her. So; I started her on "stress treats" which is supposed to calm her down. I have always been a huge fan of Jackson Galaxy, and I remember him saying that some cats are also sound sensitive, which can cause overstimulation and actually panic, rather than anger. So, I started turning things off, down, etc, and immediately noticed her chilling out. It took some time, but now she will actually come and sit in my lap and I can pet her for as long as I'd like (as long as I don't touch right before her tail). I realized that sometimes, it's easy to forget that they too can have sensory overload. Maybe try that and see if that helps with her aggression.
     
    acheno84, May 22, 2016
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  12. Novelangel

    MER Well-Known Member

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    That's a pretty cat. I love the coat. In the picture is Gemma and Rosco. Gemma we had for nearly a year before Rosco was adopted. I use to play with Gemma with my hands and toys. I don't remember how many bed sheets are spattered with blood now from us playing. I then learned that you don't want to play with cats with your fingers, hands etc because they learn that's part of the play. Its best to use things you can hold in your hand to play with them. It may be tooo late now to retrain your biter. Rosco gives me love bites first thing in the morning when he's hungry. Gemma, on occasion will come charging at my ankles when I'm about to get in bed. She can get pretty mean about that too! Crazy!

    Rosco on the other hand; we thought we'd have to rename him Chewy or Chewbocka or something like that. He thinks he's a dog and will chew on everything. He's chewed a big hole in our leather office chair and the soft cushy floor mates you stand on while in the kitchen. He's like a little baby that has to put everything in is mouth first.
     
    MER, Jun 6, 2016
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  13. Novelangel

    Novelangel Active Member

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    Thanks for all the advice, everyone. I will definitely try reducing the volume of things around here. Perhaps my kitty's problem really is sensory overload. If so, I need to put my own comfort level aside and give her some peace too. She does have an outstanding sense of hearing, often listening carefully to things I don't even know are there, so that could be at least part of the problem. My hearing is sensitive enough to detect the sound of electricity running through wires in the walls, so I can only imagine the overload Callie-sue is experiencing.
     
    Novelangel, Jun 9, 2016
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