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Discouraging biting?

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 
Mama is normally a very sweet cat. She's a lover, not a fighter, and hasn't ever scratched me and meant to. Any cuts I get from her are accidental.

But she's gotten very enthusiastic about her treats. I give her cat treats, and when it's available, unseasoned turkey and chicken. I feed her out of my fingers, and lately she's been lunging. She'll bite the treat, my fingers, my knuckles... right up to my wrist!

I don't mind having a bleeding hand, but my young cousins like to feed her treats, and I don't want her to upset them. I've been trying to discourage her attempts at treat-grabbing; I'll pull it out of reach, put my fingers in the way, or wait until she's behaving again to offer it. But she just keeps on lunging and biting.

Is there any effective way to discourage this? I know you can't really make a cat do anything, but it would be nice to correct this.
post #2 of 5
IMO, you shouldn't give her treats right out of your fingers. She now sees your hand as "the treat machine" which is not so good. Try to put the treats in her plate and then call her, so that she will be able to connect food with plate and not with hand. When she bites you anyway, say a long and direct nooooo, put her away and don't pay any attention to her for a while.
post #3 of 5
When she bites you, hiss at her. As long as she focuses on the food, pet her, but if she puts her teeth on you, hiss and move your face towards her.

I do this with Bixby and he jumps a mile! Juniper just stops and licks me, as if to say "oh right that's you."

Cats are smart enough to know the texture difference of raw, cooked, and living flesh She should learn soon enough that biting you is bad (the hiss) even if you're not all that mad.
post #4 of 5
Thread Starter 
Ahh, maybe I should have been clearer with that biting description. She gets impatient and very excited, and will lunge forward (head and shoulder) and snap whatever is in my fingers. There's no time to tell the difference between my fingers and her treat... just imagine a food-aggressive dog.

The options I can think of are:
1. stop feeding her from my fingers. This isn't a problem for me, but I was hoping for a behavior-correcting alternative, as setting the treat on the ground defeats the purpose of "giving the kitty a treat". To my cousins, it's gonna be almost as bad as getting bitten!
2. feed her from the palm of my hand.
3. make her 'stay' before she gets a treat.
I've tried withholding treats. When she darts at my fingers, I'll pretend to lose interest and set the treat on my keyboard. She'll calm down, sit nicely, and as soon as I lean down to offer the treat again, BAM! She's just as excited as she was in the first place, and it all happens over again.
post #5 of 5
Where does she recognize the treat? Juniper gets the impression he's going to get a treat or a meal whenever we go in the kitchen, and will typically meow loudly and put his paws up on whoever is in there. But if he actually sees the food, he goes nuts, walking around in circles and meowing like crazy. When the food gets near him he tries very hard to claw it out of my hands if it's, for instance, a tiny piece of raw chicken.

What I've done is let him see it, and if he tries to lunge I take it away. Not biting, of course, but do you "surprise" her with treats or does she see that they're coming?

The quick fix would be to not feed her from your hand, as fun as that is. You may also try holding it over her -- Juniper gets up on his back legs and actually stands there while I lower it into his meowing mouth, going "om nom nom nom." That way he doesn't have a chance to be aggressive (well, he could try to jump at me, but so far he hasn't associated jumping with anything other than play).
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