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Suddenly won't stop with the biting

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 
Hi everyone. I have two cats (Skipper & Gilligan) that we adopted a little over a month ago. Both cats like to give "love bites" - not new behavior, because they did it to one of the girls at the shelter while we were meeting them. They play rough together and I think the bites are just normal behavior to them.

Well, they rarely try to bite my husband, but I've received numerous. Usually when we're playing or I'm rubbing them - always quick and gentle little nips. However, last Friday and today Gilligan has been extremely clingy towards me. After my husband leaves for work, Gilligan follows me around the apartment and races after me if I get up for any reason. Also, on both Friday and today, as soon as I sit at my desk to work on the computer, he has begun rubbing my legs and biting. Over and over again - my toes, my leg, my foot, whatever he can grab. I say "Ow!" each time and stop rubbing him but he immediately goes after me again. Today I finally pushed him away and pulled my legs off the floor; he then finally laid down next to the desk and is currently fast asleep. If he follows Friday's behavior, he'll stop for the evening when my husband comes home. Oh, and the whole process starts over again each time I walk away from the desk and then sit down again which means I'm now afraid to move.

Any ideas or suggestions? He didn't do this continually love bite thing until Friday and my husband and I have been following the same schedule since we got them. I thought Friday's behavior was due to my cleaning the apartment and organizing for weekend guests, but I'm not sure why he's doing it today too.

Sorry for the length of the post . . . love some insight into this though.
post #2 of 8
Where is "skipper" while all this is going on?
post #3 of 8
It's part game and part domination.

When the cat bites you should yell: "OW!!!" As loud as you can to startle him, then completely ignore him: turn your back to him completely and face the opposite direction.

Other than the "OW!!" you should NOT react, as this is the "game" part - kitty bites, owner reacts to kitty's delight, game starts over.
post #4 of 8
Thread Starter 
Skipper is the low key kitty - he's sleeping.

Hmm . . . I'll increase the volume of my "Ow" yells and see what that does. Thanks for the advice!
post #5 of 8
Ferris used to bite me - a dominance thing, as he is semi-feral, but the yelling "OW!!! really worked. Now when he gives me love bites he is very careful not to bite hard, now he just sort of puts his teeth on me and holds them there without pressure.
post #6 of 8
Nikita will sometimes start biting my feet. Usually that's happened when she's not had enough playtime during the day. When it happens I go OW! and then try not to react much and just tuck my feet away where she can't get at them, either by sitting in a yoga position in the chair or by putting my old doc martens on. Then after a short while I get the toys out and start playing with her.

I put in the slight wait so she doesn't learn that she can get play by biting. You should definately try to nip this in the bud now though, cats can be very clever at manipulating us and will grab on whatever works being it excessive meowing or biting etc. intelligent pets are fun but can be a lot more work
post #7 of 8
My cat Mojo has done this her whole life. I think the biggest mistake is that when people have small kittens, they like to gently 'rough house' with them, and sometimes allow them to nibble or bite the hands and/or feet. This is a very BAD and quick learnt habit that is very hard to break a cat of.

Mojo has done it, and always will do it, and we realise this was our own mistake for how we let her play when she was young. You just have to start trying to pay attention to what it is they are doing before they bite. The biting may get worse, and may even become much more aggressive the older they get. When you realize a change in their attitude that may bring on this 'love bite' stop what you are doing immediatly, and do not let the cat get any further.

With mojo, we throught the 'trigger' was that her tail begins to flick, and we thought we could use this as a sign- but you see, now Mojo's tail flicks ALL the time, even when she sleeps! So I cant stop her from attacking, but maybe at such a young age you can find out what triggers this 'love bite' and stop it before it gets really bad.

We have to lock Mojo up when company comes over. She attacks them in a dominant stance. She greets them at the door- ears back and tail flicking so hard it could break your toe (Slight exaggeration, but not much). As soon as they step out of the porch, she considers them free game, and attacks their legs. She may still think this is play, but she has caused deep lacserations, and bleeding bite marks on the back of several peoples calves/knees. She is getting too old to be taught not to do this, not that I will ever give up trying though, so when we are ready to have kids (In about 1.5 years ) we may have to find her a new home because I cannot trust her with any age of child!!

Luckily, having a tiny 2 day old kitten to deal with for the last 4 weeks (She is now 4.5 weeks old almost 5 weeks) has calmed Mojo down a lot. Brought out her motherly instinct I guess.. I just hope it lasts!
post #8 of 8
Thread Starter 
I'm glad to know this is a relatively common behavior problem - I was beginning to think Gilligan had lost his mind! I'll take everyone's advice and yell louder and then completely ignore for a while to try and break the behavior. Gilligan is definitely clever - my husband thought it would be cute to teach him to high-five for a treat so he now comes up to us randomly and pops our hands to tell us he wants a treat. I'm trying to break that behavior too. Silly cat. They're both con artists, but Gilligan is definitely the more outgoing one.

Hayabusa, I hope Mojo continues to stay calm! Thanks for sharing your story - I'll definitely work with Gilligan to stop the biting while he's young to avoid problems in the future. Oh, and I love your timeline for kids - ours is 2 years from now.
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