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so worried, is my cat psychotic?

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 

Our cat is almost 6 months old now, and wonderful in so many ways. But he does something that REALLY worries me and I pray that it changes as he gets older.

He will unexpectedly leap at our faces. Sometimes, he will leap at a face and playfully bat at it, or once he leapt up and was nose to nose with me until he suddenly jumped off. I almost had a heart attack thinking he was going to bite off my nose. But the other day, he leaped up and bit one of my 17 year old daughters on the cheek, (for the 2nd time.) and he will sometimes attack our faces on the spur of the moment unprovoked, and try to bite unless we ward him off with our arms. She was just sitting on the floor reading. The scary thing is that he makes a noise when he does it, like when he is running around the house play fighting or whatever he does. Kind of like a yeowling noise. And his ears are back. He seems angry and yelling NO and pushing him away seems to make him want to come at me more.

It seems like he does this mostly late at night when we are trying to watch TV. So I wonder, is it an attention thing? We do play with him a lot at that time with lazers, and throwing things for him to chase, and a fishing rod thing. But sometimes he just ignores those things and still comes at us. My friend scared me because he took it very seriously and said, you can't have a cat that does that. It's dangerous. Maybe you need to take him back to a shelter. When I told him my daughter's heart would be broken, he said, Well, can't you get another kitten? It doesn't work that way. We do love him so much. But this really scares me. I don't want to have to give him away. I'm afraid someone else wouldn't understand either.

Has anyone else had a cat that does this? Do you think he is angry? It seems like it happens when he is most awake because he sleeps a lot during the afternoon. All morning, he hangs out with me while I do the dishes, or other things. I play with him and get things done and he is great. Then he gets really sleepy around 2, which works with my work schedule, and he gets up and down for the rest of the afternoon and early evening. But he is in a very relaxed mood. By 10 or 11 at night though, he changes and wants to bite and be agressive. I put him in my office to sleep at night and so when he gets this way in spite of playing with him, I just put him in the office. I don't know what else to do. I hope somebody can offer me some advice that isn't to give him away. I was up all last night worrying about it, and what I should do. Thank you so much in advance for any advice or suggestions. You people are all so great!
post #2 of 18
While I can't give much advice, I will say that I've read similar things on here before. We have some members who are very experienced with cat behavior issues, and there are positive results too. I'm sure someone will be along soon to offer advice.
post #3 of 18
There will be more experienced ones coming, but you need to realize, this is just a baby.

He doesn't know he's doing something "wrong". This is play for him. May I suggest that now that you are aware of the situation, if you see it starting to develop, say "No" in a loud voice and turn away from him.

If he does go for you, see if you can get him, put him down somewhere (gently) and say "No" loudly. Don't tap his nose, he'll think you are playing with him.

Please don't get rid of him just because of this. This can be worked on.

Soooothing headbuts and calming licks from KittenKiya's Clan.
post #4 of 18
At first I thought you were talking about a recently adopted adult cat that was doing this... which would suggest behavioral problems to do with the transition.

But it's good news that it's only a kitten, because it's just a matter of training. Kittens are wild and crazy. You can teach him not to do this behavior. When he does it, I would calmly but firmly take him and put him on the floor, and say "no" loudly (but not angrily). Walk away or ignore him, so that he learns that when he does that you will stop playing with him or giving him affection. If he keeps attacking while you're doing this, you may have to put him in another room and close the door until he calms down.

It's also important, particularly with kittens, that you never let them use a person's body part as a toy. No playing directly with or attacking hands, arms, or legs... always be using an actual toy. Keep toys near the place where these incidents are occurring, and if you see that he is about to start biting you or another person, throw a toy for him to chase... if you repeatedly distract him this way, he will learn to play with the toys and won't develop a learned behavior of attacking faces.

It takes a lot of repetition to train them. But he'll get it eventually.
post #5 of 18
When my friends cat starts biting her a little too rough she stays perfectly still and pretends to 'cry' and go 'owwww owww owww!' and it sounds weird but he stops and looks at her like huh? I'm sorry! lol. But he is not as aggressive as your kitty sounds. Or what about hissing at him when he does that, as if you were another cat?

There are also Flower Essences that you might think about using, or Rescue Remedy. Do a google search. You could even try a Feliway plug which is supposed to calm cats.

I admit it sounds very scary and your friend probably doesnt understand that you cant just 'return' animals when they dont act the way you want them too. That's like asking if you would return your baby to the hospital if it were behaving badly? That's how I look at it anyway. I am sure something can be done to train your kitty to stop doing this. It just might take some time with trial and error.
post #6 of 18
As I understand it, cats like to hunt by night, and that's why they often get a little wild late at night. And of course, an important part of a kitten's job is to learn to hunt, so they like to practice at night!

So no, I don't think you have a psycho kitty! We have a six-month-old right now, too, and he made a few face-attacks early on... but we just said NO very sharply, walked away, and ignored him for the next ten minutes. Now he's much more gentle with us... though he's still a holy terror to our other cats!
post #7 of 18
He may also be looking for you to (sorry!) regurgitate food for him - one of my cats pats my mouth when he's hungry, and watches it when I talk, to see if he's going to get anything (maybe also smells what I ate recently!). Sometimes it helps to understand why something's happening even if you're not sure how to handle it.
post #8 of 18
Thread Starter 
Thank you, I feel better knowing that this is semi normal kitten behavior. Also, the idea that night time is hunt time really makes sense. He's such a love except when he gets into that mood. The vet said he had a "high prey instinct", whatever that means. Well, I'll try standing up again right away, after saying NO, and leaving the room. I can't exactly put him down on the floor because he'd bite my hands when he's in that state of mind.

I have another question about what I should do when he bites one of my kids. They are teenagers, but do not have very deep voices and are not very good at standing up for themselves with the cat. When I interfere, do you think he understands it is about biting them? Should I use a water bottle? I've never done anything like that, but I wonder if now would be an appropriate time to try it. What do you all think about that for teaching him no biting. Thanks again. He's our baby.
post #9 of 18
Larke... Whenever I yawn, my female tries to shove her whole head in my mouth. It's rather funny.
post #10 of 18
One bit of advice I picked up from this site that works well with our kitten is to make a very loud clap when the kitten is doing something that could be dangerous in the future (ie: don't over-use it!) Basically right when they are about to do something, clap loudly just once then act like it wasn't you. This has diverted our newest addition from the stovetop and from munching on the tv cables. Naturally if she was about to be injured immediately I would jump in instead of clapping... but it gives them a good warning that their action makes them feel startled.

Overuse could lead to a very jumpy cat, so use it very rarely! I prefer it to the spray bottle as that just taught our cat to run when she heard the bottle.
post #11 of 18
My father tried the spray bottle with our first indoor cat, years ago. At first, it scared and confused the poor kitty, and he ran away... which of course meant he also stopped whatever he'd been doing, so my father was satisfied that the spray bottle was a good thing.

But within a week, we could see that the spraying had not taught the kitty that he shouldn't jump on the table or climb the bookshelves... all it taught him was that my father was someone to fear and avoid.

Then one day, the kitty decided by golly, he wasn't going to be pushed around that way. When he jumped on the table and my father squirted him with the water, the kitty just stood there and let him do it! And from that day on, that brave little kitty never backed down again -- he just stood there defiantly and took it.

Well. Even my father had to respect that, and he put away the spray bottle forever.

The moral of the story is: spray bottles may sometimes get a cat to behave the way you want him to, but even if they do "work"... at what cost? I think our beloved pets deserve greater respect than that.
post #12 of 18
Oh, what an amazing and wonderful story! I'm so glad your father realized what he was doing and stopped, and that cat was so brave! They really are little people inside (only better than we are!).
Dalisca - that's so funny!
post #13 of 18
I think your teenagers may have to also work to discipline the cat... for instance, if he's attacking them, and you get up and walk away, it won't stop the kitten. But if you say "no" loudly and take him off your child and put him on the floor, it should do the trick.

If he does bite your hands while you're doing this, I would either distract him by throwing a toy, or put him in a room by himself for 10 or 15 minutes.

You might make sure that your kids are not letting the kitten play with their hands, feet, etc., or climb on them when you're not around.
post #14 of 18
My daughter has a 10 month monster kitten. He was abandoned in the back of a pickup truck at 2 1/2 wks. She and the family hand fed him. He has always bit and scratched everyone. One time he ran up to my g-daughter and bit her on the butt. The vet says he has no conscience. He's been neutered but it did not help. Water, citrus or apple spray doesn't faze him. You can try to distract him but to no avail. He even bites when the family is asleep. He's a beautiful, big cat. I think he has ADHD. He's always into something like a kid. We think he will never change but love him anyway.
post #15 of 18
One option for discipline: hiss at the kitten. It worked wonders with my girls. They liked to fight all the time. Yell at them to stop never did anything; neither did separating them, and we could never get to the spray bottle in time. Hissing however, would stop them in their tracks. Kind of a "Oh, you mean you were seriously mad? Well, ok then."

They don't take it as a permanent "I don't like you", they take it as "Knock it off before I scratch you back". Once they get it into their head that the behavior is no allowed, they get back to being friendly again.
post #16 of 18
Thread Starter 
Thank you. I will try hissing. What a great story about the water bottle and the brave, defiant cat. I can image my kitty would do something like that. If he's scared of something, he doesn't stay scared for long. He always returns to face his fear.

And I hope my kitty isn't like the one without a conscious. What a horrible thought. I work with kids who have ADHD. So far none of them has bit my butt!
post #17 of 18
I used my cats affinty for sniffing my mouth as the opportunity to teach him a trick. This is what you might be able to do once he calms down. I used to say, " give me kisses," and make kissie noises when he sniffed my lips and now he does it when I say the phrase and make kissie noises. He associates the action with my command. It is so cute. I tell everyone that I taught him this trick but it's really just his instincts. But they don't have to know that right?

As far as the water bottle goes, I respect that cat, but I have no choise. If you have read any posts about Morty, the water bottle is my only saving grace. It is my only sembelance of control in my house where Morty is constantly testing the boundaries. It is either squirt him or drug him and I wan thim to keep his spirit and not be a zombie. And he is not scared of me at all, just the bottle. So I don't think it a cruel punishment. And it should be noted that cats don't correct their behavior from a water bottle. It just distracts them from the behavior. This is handy if Morty is attacking Trinity or if he is up on the counter or biting, that sort of thing. He still does those things, sometimes moments after I spray him, but he doesn't learn no matter what I do. If I catch him early it helps prevent damage and him form getting in more trouble from me or my BF getting fed-up.
post #18 of 18
Originally Posted by bab-ush-niik View Post
One option for discipline: hiss at the kitten. It worked wonders with my girls.
Hissing generally works well. An alternative is to blow in his face. Both those things worked with Mosi (he used to go for my hair a lot). Another thing that worked with Mosi was the concept of time out. If he was being really naughty I'd pick him up gently (make no eye contact) and place him in another room and close the door. To begin with I left him 1 minute for each month of his age up to a maximum of 10 mins. He really seemed to connect the withdrawl of attention with his behaviour immediately beforehand. Not sure that would work with all kitties but the first time I tried it with Mosi I was almost shocked how well it worked.
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