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Bruce is biting!

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 
Hi all

I expect I’ll be told it’s nothing to worry about, but..

Bruce, one of our two 7.5-month-old Maine Coon kittens, is turning into a bit of a biter.

I know it’s not an uncommon trait among cats, but he does the thing of enjoying being stroked or groomed for a while, and then he suddenly turns on our hands with teeth and claws. If you do anything he slightly doesn’t like and he’s not in a calm mood, he will very quickly snap at your hands.

He (and his sister, Sheila, who is very gentle and NEVER gets her teeth out) have had a very smooth upbringing, being well raised by their lovely breeder, and then had consistent, kind treatment from us. They are now very fearless and trusting.

They understand ‘no’ when it means ‘get off the dining table’ or ‘don’t sniff the food plates/glasses’, and whenever Bruce tries to bite he gets a ‘no’ and an immediate withdrawing of affection. We have tried to avoid overstimulation – so when he is loving the attention we try to ease back before he gets over-excited. He was neutered at 5 months, is never fed titbits, and is an indoor cat.

Is there anything else we can try, to reduce these incidents? Might he grow out of them? Or is it just the way he is? I’m conscious that he’s going to be a very big cat, and if we have children in the future it may cause problems.

In other ways he’s a great cat – affectionate and playful, good about having his claws and teeth attended to. Am I just expecting too much?

post #2 of 8
Hopefully your cat grows out of his biting habit.

This may or may not help. Whenever he starts to bite - do a sound that he may not like - like a "ch" sound. After that withdraw eye contact & withdraw the affection like you have been doing. We do this for our cats & it works, but your cat may be different...

You are doing a great job already! There must be something that will work for him! Good Luck! Update us on how hes coming along with his biting...
post #3 of 8
If he is biting when you pet him, it could be that he is getting overstimulated. It is common in cats. I would try bitter apple spray in your hand/arm for whenever he bites.
post #4 of 8
With some cats, you just have to watch for the signs of overstimulation...tail twitching, skin rolling are some of the warnings we get from Bella. I've also noticed that there are certain places she doesn't want me to bother her. If she's on the window sill or the kitty tree just leave her alone.

As far as when she's sitting on my lap or bed and decides to be bitey, I usually yell "ow" (which startles her) and I don't yank my hand away (if I can help it) because I don't want her to latch on. I want her to stop and pull away herself.

Then I immediately put her on the floor. I don't look at her and I walk away (end of petting session). I didn't want to put bitter apple or anything like that on me because I ate enough of that stuff when I was spraying plants and powercords

We've seen a decline in the frequency and intensity of her biting by doing this.
post #5 of 8
My cat is 1 1/2 years old and did this way more frequently when he was a kitten (the over-stimulation thing). He'd actually be laying on my chest in the bed and would suddenly snap on me while enjoying petting. I'd always hiss at him because sometimes he'd try to bite again.

He really did outgrow it so I think it is more common in kittens.
post #6 of 8
This is highly unconventional but I swear it works. I bite back. Not to hurt of course but it seems to convey the point that it's not fun. I just put my teeth on their scruff and apply a little pressure. You get fur on your tongue though. I did it years ago with Friday when I was completely out of ideas for how to stop him. He regularly drew blood. I experimented on the new kitten when he got too rough in play and it worked with him too. Both exercise restraint when play biting now. Of course, neither bit from over stimulation so it may not translate exactly.
post #7 of 8
Magpie did the biting thing when he got overstimulated. I found that keeping my hand very still (so as not to reward the biting and act like prey) and breaking eye contact worked well. He would release my hand (and often start licking it) at which point I would withdraw it. He gradually did it less and less until he stopped doing it at all.

This is a good article about this kind of thing (scroll down to the bit on 'Petting Anxiety')

post #8 of 8
Thread Starter 
Thanks, everyone. There's some great advice for us. It's a good point about not pulling our hands away. We will focus on the sharp noise to get shock the point across, and be rigorous about stopping the petting and walking away at that point. And trying not to overstimulate him in the first place, of course!

It's an interesting suggestion about biting back. I have certainly found it effective on horses, so will give it some thought if the more conventional methods don't seem to be working. But hopefully, if we are consistent, the incidences will reduce as Bruce gets older.

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