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Desperate for help - cat bites

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 
Hi everyone

I am new to this site, recommended by the Shelter whom I've adopted my cat from.

My Tuxedo cat, Cody, is male and neutered and has all it's claws. He is about 2 years old. Have no background on him, just was a stray. I've had him for 4 months.

He doesn't want to be held, petted or lay on my lap. He constantly bites. I have so many bites that are infected now on my hands and arms. I'm lucky with only one bite on my cheek so far. My vet said he can be put on medication for the behavior issues, but the trouble is I can't get any medication down him without getting torn up.

I've lost all hope and spent so much money for nothing so far and am ready to give up Cody back to the shelter. The only glimmer of hope I have is that he will sleep by me at nite, curled up in a ball next to my head, which makes me happy. I'll wake up in the middle of the nite pet him gently and get bit again.

Please, I need advice on what to do. I can't go on this way. Should I keep him and continue to be bit, or give him back? I just wish Cody would want to be held, petted, and to lay on my lap. What cat doesn't want this? I've purchased so many toys, keep his litter box clean daily and has a warm bed to lay in. I don't understand. I think I have a happy home for him.

Any advice would be appreciated. Thank you
- Jen
post #2 of 22
well, stop picking him up/petting him for now...
here're a couple of articles that might help!
playtime agression
cat aggression towards people

post #3 of 22
Thread Starter 
I guess I forgot to mention, I have tried all that already and actually the best advice my vet has given me is "walk away", but then how can you bond with your cat without petting or holding him? I feel I have no connection with him.

Playtime I know is a form of bonding. I play with him as much as I can and never rough. His favorite toy is either the little gray furry mice or a string thing on a stick I hold.

Is there a 'Cat Whisperer' like Cesar Milan for dogs?
post #4 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by 1980's Girl View Post
I guess I forgot to mention, I have tried all that already and actually the best advice my vet has given me is "walk away", but then how can you bond with your cat without petting or holding him?
you can still talk to him, sit in the same room w/him, etc. the touching part of the bonding can come later [if ever - some cats just aren't that physically affectionate].
feliway might help... or rescue remedy. worth a shot, anyway.
post #5 of 22
:-( It's such a shame that he's defensive like that. Good for you for adopting him and giving him a chance at a happy homelife.

I'd say the same thing- stop petting him for now, use Feliways or whatever, and let the bond with him grow... slowly. ^^"

I have a thought, though... Is it possible that he has some kind of injury or skin complaint? If you're hurting him when you're petting him, maybe it's a defensive kind of action? I know it's not likely, but just thought I'd throw it out there.
post #6 of 22
what sort of medication did the vet suggest putting the cat on? i didn't know there was a miracle drug to halt biting! sounds a little suspect actually.

this sounds to me like young cat behavior, we have a cat that started off like this. we kept a stuffed toy around so when he started biting we would give him the toy to take out his aggressive tendencies on. make sure you play with him a lot, get a 'cat dancer' or better yet, tie a string to a stick and wave it around. this will promote good play behavior and help him understand what is appropriate.

since we don't know much about his past, it's hard to tell why he acts the way he does. so be patient and give him a chance to learn before giving up on him.
post #7 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by jimmylegs View Post
what sort of medication did the vet suggest putting the cat on? i didn't know there was a miracle drug to halt biting! sounds a little suspect actually.
My vet suggested Prozac. The only problem was that getting the pill into Zane was a major struggle, and the only change in his behavior seemed that he was eating like a little vaccuum cleaner. The lable said that one of the side effects might be lethargy---how can one tell, with a cat?
post #8 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jalindal View Post
I have a thought, though... Is it possible that he has some kind of injury or skin complaint? If you're hurting him when you're petting him, maybe it's a defensive kind of action? I know it's not likely, but just thought I'd throw it out there.
hmm....perhaps you could try using one of those glove toys to test this? If he likes the toy but still acts out when touched by the glove toy you would know to take him in to vet to get a indepth check up? just an idea
post #9 of 22
I know its hard but the best advice so far has been to stop trying to pet him and stop trying to pick him up. This is probably a case of him not trusting you yet and for a cat physical contact with a being that towers over him and has stomping feet and grabby hands is a major trust issue.

Most likely he was never handled before you got him and to him petting and being picked up is foreign to him or he associates it with abuse.

Play with him with wand type toys and throw him mousies but avoid physically touching him if you can. Give him lots of treats and praise and talk to him all you can. If and when he is ready to be touched you will know. But keep in mind that some kitties may never like to be pet or picked up. None of mine will stand to be held and one of them will only let me pet her for a bit before she gets annoyed and walks off. But boy does she love to just sit in the same room with me and talk talk talk.

In the meantime do get him to the vet to have a real good look over. It could be that he is sick or hurting due to something unseen and that is why he is acting out. Overall just be patient, you have only had him 4 months and I have heard of cats taking years to finally come around and be fully trusting. The fact that he is trusting enough to sleep next to you is good but it does sorta show that he trusts you when you are sleeping and not petting him.
post #10 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mai_kitties View Post
I know its hard but the best advice so far has been to stop trying to pet him and stop trying to pick him up. This is probably a case of him not trusting you yet and for a cat physical contact with a being that towers over him and has stomping feet and grabby hands is a major trust issue.
The fact that he is trusting enough to sleep next to you is good but it does sorta show that he trusts you when you are sleeping and not petting him.
I agree with that. Its a good sign. My Fiona would bite me when being petted. I let her come to me when she was ready. She still can get nippy if I don't spot her "get away" warnings. Like flicking her tail, ears moving back, tensing up etc. She sometimes will take a toy and bite it and kick at it afterward, getting her aggression out. She really doesn't like being picked up either.

But she will purr, and make biscuits, and cuddle on the couch with me. But she can nver be a cat that is a "baby" type cat. She is very independant. She had a rough start at life. But she is an awesome cat in her own right! She loves to play and will catch toys in midair and play fetch. She's lots of fun to be around. When she does give her love it is just that much more special

Try the Feliway plugins. Expensive but they do work to help calm kitties. Also you can put "rescue remedy" by Bach's in the water or food and that helps too. Heck, even I use it when stressed!

Lots of positive experiances will show him that you are one to be trusted. Treats, playing with toys (for your safety the ones on a string! ), sitting on the floor and talking to him in soft tones, look at him and blink slowly (it's cat speak for I love you). He will come around.
post #11 of 22
Thread Starter 
Thank you all! Will keep you posted...

I do have the wand-type toy and furry mice. Those are his favorite. The vet didn't give me a specific name of a behavioral drug to give him, just said there is medication 'out there'.
post #12 of 22
I agree with the idea of toys on a string or anything that you can play with at arm's length since it seems painful to pick him up (unless you wear gloves that cover a lot of skin). It is possible he was taught at a young age that biting was OK behavior and he just thinks he is playing and does not realize he is being aggressive, thinks he is playing. Ignoring him could make him worse and less socialized and you do not want that.

Have yo tried Feliway? And there are many many meds for anxiety - if that is the cause (since he came from a shelter, it is possible he was abused and he is defending himself and dos not realize you merely want to play) but my instinct is he is a kitten who was taught that biting a finger or two was fine and of course it is not! What about adding Rescue Remedy to his water? Have you tried all these solutions?

Keep talking and playing and loving him. Let him com to you. He will come when he wants loving. Some cats just take time.

Good luck!
post #13 of 22
My parents have a one-eyed cat who had a very bad start in life and she can be a vicious biter at times. She can also be a very sweet loving cat. Because we know her history, it is easy to understand why she behaves the way she does. She is in her teens now, and they still can't pick her up without a fight on their hands. However, I don't think they have any regrets about rescuing her. She does do better with petting now. Best wishes to you...I admire you for not just giving up on your cat from the very start.
post #14 of 22
You need to determine what is triggering the aggression in you cat and take steps from there. This is an outstanding article:
http://www.thecatsite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=20837

I deal with feral cats. There are cats from shelters with bad backgrounds who respond in similar ways to feral cats. Something happened in their previous life that was really bad and they act out in their new environment.

I agree with your vet. Leaving the cat alone is about the best thing you can do for your long term relationship. Cats are not on time clocks. They adjust to their surroundings in their own time on their own terms. Until they build up trust in you, which if mistreated in their past life, can take longer than what you would like.

But this doesn't mean you can't interact, you're just building your relationship in a different way. First of all, get a good solid routine. Feed at the same time every day, reserve play time for the same time. Cats love routine and it helps to build a bond. Talk to your cat all the time. If you can't think of things to say, grab a book, sit on the floor and read aloud. And speaking of sitting on the floor, avoid towering over your cat. It threatens them. Cats great each other by slowly blinking their eyes. Do that with your cat and don't be surprised if he doesn't do it back to you.

And always remember - a lot of behavior is motivated by "what's in it for me?", and they could care less what's in it for you. If you are forcing your needs on them, they aren't going to respond how you want them to.

And as far as returning the cat to the shelter? You need to do some research before you do so. If you adopted from a kill shelter, a cat returned for behavior issues is not always put back up for adoption. If you adopted from a no-kill shelter, taking your cat back in often prevents the shelter from saving another cat from the street. Be aware of this before and ask questions before you make any decision.

I've had some really hard cases over the years. And personally, I force myself to be patient and wait them out. And when they come around eventually, it is a victory for all involved.
post #15 of 22
I'm afraid I have bad news for you. My daughter's Chester was found abandoned at 3 wks. old. He's now 2&1/2 yrs. He has always bit. Her arms and legs sound just like yours. He will attack her for no reason. The vet said some cats just are like that. She loves him and would not give him away. He does seem to like my grown grandson though. Ironically he is black and white. Her vet said sometimes black & white cats are "defective". Her family raised this boy on bottles and really loved him and they still do. One just stays away from him as much as possible.
post #16 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by deljo View Post
Ironically he is black and white. Her vet said sometimes black & white cats are "defective".
Her vet sounds like an idiot.
post #17 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by deljo View Post
Ironically he is black and white. Her vet said sometimes black & white cats are "defective".
No offense, but that's a load of crap. Something made him that way sure, but it wasn't his fur color. I'm glad I don't have that vet.
post #18 of 22
Thread Starter 
Thanks everyone

Update on Cody, no bites in 2 days! I've started from scratch (no pun intended) on training, by not picking him up and petting gently before the warning signs. I'm trying to talk to him more while playing with his string- wand toy thing, too.

deljo mentioned about the vet saying "black & white" cats are defective. I found this: http://cats.about.com/od/coatcolorpa...xedo-Facts.htm Tuxedo cats are significantly more intelligent than regular cats. Hmmmm.......

What exactly does a Feliway plug-in do? How does it affect dogs? (I have a dog too).

Oh, the Shelter I adopted Cody from said in their agreement I had to sign that they would take the cat back with a $20.00 paid fee. Has anyone ever heard of a policy like this?
post #19 of 22
My 2 cents on a tuxedo cat. I found a stray in our yard last year. He was a tuxedo, his long hair was so matted and had burrs in it that his whole anus area was a mass of clumps. I put some food down and he came right to me. He let me pet him while he ate. I also got my nurse scissors and he allowed me to cut away some of his clumps. His dear little bones were so visible I almost cried. A couple days later when he was in the yard again, I got the cat carrier ready, took out some food and when he came I picked him up with the food and placed him in the carrier. He never once tried to bite or scratch me. Maybe the poor little guy just had no fight left in him. Anyway I took him to the vet that services the local shelter. The shaved him, gave him his shots, dewormer, etc. I volunteered at the shelter and watched him grow into a sweet loving cat with a beautiful coat and the sweetest disposition you could imagine.

That's my experience with the one and only tuxedo in my life.
post #20 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by 1980's Girl View Post

deljo mentioned about the vet saying "black & white" cats are defective. I found this: http://cats.about.com/od/coatcolorpa...xedo-Facts.htm Tuxedo cats are significantly more intelligent than regular cats. Hmmmm.......
I think that website is just joking- it also says "Tuxedo cats can, in an emergency, drive a car."
post #21 of 22
I have heard all the "catitude" descriptions about various colors. I always heard that black cats were the most likely to be wild and rough, and I've heard about "tortitude" and "orange attitude." I think it's all hooey, but don't try arguing with anyone about it!

Our orange cat is gentlest cat I've every known, and Sterling is the one that gave Dottie a bite that got infected. Ella, the Katrina rescue, used to occasionally nip, but it was never vicious, just showing annoyance the only way she knew how.
post #22 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by mrblanche View Post
I have heard all the "catitude" descriptions about various colors. I always heard that black cats were the most likely to be wild and rough, and I've heard about "tortitude" and "orange attitude." I think it's all hooey, but don't try arguing with anyone about it!

Our orange cat is gentlest cat I've every known, and Sterling is the one that gave Dottie a bite that got infected. Ella, the Katrina rescue, used to occasionally nip, but it was never vicious, just showing annoyance the only way she knew how.
I'll be the first to agree with you. We have two Siamese that are nothing like Siamese are apparently "supposed" to be. They are more laid-back and easy-going, loving to everyone than any cat we've ever had before them.
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