Originally Posted by Lunacy
Hello all.. I have a feeling this is going to get long so I'm going to keep it to the facts as much as I can..
I just picked up a male shorthair, roughly 9-12mo old from the MSPCA(local shelter). When I visited him at the shelter he was really friendly, very outgoing, and loved to play. He had been neutered a week or two before I met him.
I took him home on Tuesday, after poping out of the box and hiding under the bed for 5 minutes, he came out and was pretty happy to be pet. This night he slept in my bed as if we were old pals, and the next morning he got a lot of petting and play time, no problems.
That afternoon he started "biting" after being pet for a few minutes. The first 1-2 times he did this I batted him on the nose. (I've since learned this was the wrong thing to do, but at the time it seemed like a good idea). Last night I basically put him in a "time out" and didn't pay too much attention to him. He was seemingly ok with that.. Before I went to slept I tested the waters with him and he would go to bite me after like 5 seconds of petting.. Slept in the bed, no problems..
Today, I can't touch him at all. Which is fine, I don't really WANT to touch him. The problem is he wants to be pet. I swear, he wants attention, but if I even touch him, he paws at me and bites. The freaky thing is, that when he does this he starts to purr..
Any thoughts are appreciated.. I'm really discouraged as he seems to be getting crazier.
NOTE: You should probably try the other methods suggested first, and give your cat some time to acclimate to it's surroundings and come to trust you a little better. We didn't start doing this until Poe had been here for 2 1/2 months or so.
Our Cat Poe was a male Adult cat that we picked up from the shelter. He's been the same way off and on. He's very bitey at times. He likes to be rubbed, but not too-much. We tried everything to stop the biting. All kinds of positive reinforcement, none of it has worked.
Time seems to be taking care of it somewhat. He's been with us for 4 months now and he's a calmer cat (though still nervous and aggressive sometimes, it happens less now than before).
When he insists on acting out his aggressions on us, he gets what I call "cage time".
For Example: The other night I was sitting on the floor digging through some DVD's in our entertainment center, Poe came up and sat down right next to me. I was mostly ignoring him while I searched through the DVD's, Out of nowhere, he bit my arm and hissed at me, then immediately went running because he knew he was in trouble.
I immediately got up, picked him up by the scruff of his neck, and put him in his carrier where he stayed (that time) for an hour. (I usually only do it for 30 minutes but I was super pissed off and ready to take him to the pound that time. I guess because it just happened out of the blue, not because I was petting him or anything. Just totally out of the blue).
Well, Poe hates being in the carrier. And after an hour he was suitably chastised (He spent the whole time trying to figure out how to open the door, and alternately giving up and crying-meowing, then trying again.) I let him out and he went about his usual business of coming up to me for pets to let him know everything is ok between us now.
Normal bites from petting will earn him being ignored. If he comes back and wants to be pet and then bites when we do, he gets cage time.
Slowly but surely he seems to be learning that biting is not a good thing. But I can see it taking a couple of years to almost completely kill the biting habit he has. It'll never go away completely, but we are making progress. After 4 months I was able to brush his teeth today. I held him by the scruff of the neck and brushed his teeth and he actually seemed to enjoy it. I choose to think of that as progress because there was no hissing or attempted biting involved (well, he gnawed on the finger brush a bit but that was because I was brushing his back teeth. hehe.)
Older cats are harder to handle, you have to have a LOT more patience with them than with Kittens who are fairly easy to train, but it can be done. Just don't listen to anyone who tells you that the cat doesn't understand what he's doing. All you have to do is watch with your eyes, and you'll see that when he's staring right at you and runs up and chews on a cord and then runs into another room, he KNOWS he's doing something he shouldn't. Cats are a lot smarter than most cat owners will give them credit for, I have found, and they should be treated accordingly.
Some days Poe is just cranky as hell. Some days he reverts to acting like when we just got him, he'll hide under the bed or the couch. And then as much as a week will pass by and he'll be fairly cuddly, sleep next to you, meow for pets or attention. And then one of us will be petting him and him do the biting thing several times and spend 30 minutes in the cage.
He has yet to break the skin though, so that's something. The first time he breaks the skin, he goes back to the pound. I won't have a pet that draws blood... And in the four months that we've had him, we've had to bathe him, clean his hind-area several times, brush him once a week, clean his ears out and administer ear-mite meds. We clip his toenails every few weeks when they get too sharp, and now he's going to start getting his teeth brushed once in a while so we can avoid large vet bills later on and keep him as healthy as possible. The only thing I've given up on is teaching him how to be walked so he can go outside once in a while in a harness. I think we just got him too late to try teaching him that.
P.S. Also don't be afraid to handle him. The first thing you should probably learn to do is to hold him by the scruff of the neck. We had the vet-tech show us how to do it. It doesn't hurt the cat and you'll need to know how to do it any time you clean his ears, administer medicine, or brush his teeth. Over the course of a few months he will get used to being handled like this, and it will mostly become a minor annoyance to him. You can also use this method to stop him from biting. If you scruff his neck and then gently push him down to the ground and say "NO" firmly, it might help as well. Get familiar with holding him like this though. It's the only way to hold him so that he can't bite you if you need to get him under control. And don't be afraid to BE firm. Just don't pull any hair out or anything. hehe.
And lastly, You're going to have to make certain sacrifices to have this cat as a pet. You're going to have to be extremely patient but very firm and consistent. You're going to have to remember that having a pet is like having a 5-6 year old child that will NEVER grow up. There will be good days and there will be bad days, but together you guys should get through it fine.
If you want to take the easy route, you can get yourself a kitten and probably spend about 1/4 of the time teaching them than you would an adult, but where's the fun in that?
P.S.S. In a lot of ways I'm thankful for Poe. His problems I can sort of understand. He's never given us litter-box troubles. He doesn't spray, he doesn't get food everywhere. He cleans himself thoroughly once a day, etc. His aggression is his only real issue, and while it is a big issue, I don't think it's one that necessitates having him put to sleep. Some days he's so loving that it makes all the rest worth it. And since we've had Poe he's healthier than ever. He's lost weight, is generally much happier than he was when we first brought him home, he is more trusting, and more playful.
I just think at some point he was probably abused and treated poorly, and I can totally relate to that.