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issues with 9 month old kitten

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
Hi there!

I'm so glad I found this site!!! I'm a Veterinary Assistant by trade but now work in a "people" office. I have a 9 month old male/neutered kitten I adopted from the SPCA at 8 weeks old named "George."

He is a very unique guy (aren't they all unique in their own ways?) He is extremely cute, cuddly and affectionate 90% of the time but I've been having issues with him over the last few months and its now escalating to the point where he is biting me constantly and drawing blood. I've never had a cat before and even though I was a Veterinary Assistant for three years, I admit that I'm not well versed on cat behaviour.

I suspect that this is a "teenage" issue and he is trying to dominate me. In my previous job, I saw plenty of cats that were biting out of malice, fear, pain and other legitimate reasons. This seems totally different from what is happening with George. I think he is trying to dominate me.

I can see him stalking me when I'm sitting on the couch, in much the same position as a kitten stalking a toy, but then he leaps and grabs onto any "exposed flesh" he can. My arms are completely cut up from this!! There is no hissing involved and he is sweet as pie the rest of the time. But he bites down hard and keeps coming back when I push him away. I don't know if this is play or real intent to hurt me.

If I push him away, he leaps back at me with a wild look in his eye. Sounds corny I know, but he does all he can to get back and bite me. I've tried scruffing, yelling, smacking (I HATE to do that but I'm nervous just sitting on my couch to watch TV!), time outs and reasoning. Nothing is working and I'm very VERY upset with this. He did this to my mom when she came over last week and now she doesn't like him

I'm at my wits end! (I just want to say that there is NO chance of me giving him up or dumping him back at the SPCA) but I need some help with this situation.

I feel guilty because I work full time and maybe he is mad I'm gone for 9 hours a day. We live in a 700 square foot loft that is a bachelor suite. He has an 8 foot cat tree and windows to sit at and look out. I now feel that maybe he is in too small of an environmenet?? I try and play with him the best I can but this biting thing is really upsetting me.

He has a few toys but I'm nervous about toys because in early December he ate a piece of a toy and ended up having emergency surgery to remove the blockage in his duodenum (first part of the small intestine). He was so sick and was in the hospital for three days (the longest three days of my life!) He is doing much better now and I'm going to put a little plug in for vet insurance... lol. The whole thing cost over $1000 (even at the vets I used to work for) and vet insurance covered 90% of this! The biting thing was going on before the surgery but stopped when he was recovering. It seems to be worse now.

If there is any advice at all anyone can give me, I'd really appreciate it. Like I said, he is a sweetheart most of the time and I wouldn't trade him for anything, but I'm worried he isn't happy here and that I'm not a very good cat mum!

Help please!!
I'm not sure if it matters at all, but he eats Medi-Cal Feline Dental Formula and Feline Preventive adn C/D from the vets. Top quality food. I use worlds best cat litter and he has had NO symptoms of anything physical going on. I may not be good at cat behaviour but I feel confident enough in my skills to recognize a physical issue.
Thanks again so much!
Jen
post #2 of 12
Do NOT EVER smack him! That's teaching him to fear you and associate you with abuse.

Most of what you're experiencing is normal behavior, but the extent of it is a bit much. I would advise you to invest in some toys that are interactive (DaBird is a great toy!) Also, provide him with things to chew on such as straws, long chenille craft pipe cleaners, and wads of paper not small enough to swallow. Look into getting him a small stuffed animal "buddy". Kitties have SO MUCh energy and it seems they're playing all the time!

When he does bite, hiss at him like a mother cat would, or make the "ssssssssss" sound like a snake makes. I'm not good at hissing, but I can do the "sss" noise very effectively! My DH growls at our ornery cat and that works well, too.

You can also place one finger on his forehead, sternly telling him "NO!". Cats do this to eat other, only they use their paw placed on the head, to warn the other cat that their behavior is unacceptable. Of course, the next step for them is to attack and wrestle. Also, try to avoid the behavior by watching him and providing an appropriate alternative to attacking your hand. When you see him stalking you, start playing with him with a feather or wand toy. Throw the straw or some other toy near him to divert his attention. Of course, that means you have to always have toys nearby! LOL

As for the food, he needs to be on a high quality kitten food, wet preferably and something that's higher grade than Science Diet. Look into something like Natural Balance or Wellness. You can check out the Nutrition forum for more help with food.
post #3 of 12
Maybe your kitten just has a very wrong concept of playing together. When he attacks you, maybe you could try grabbing him a holding him (gently, but firmly) down to the ground for few seconds.. kind of to show him who is the boss, and give a clear link that it's not play time. Will probably not work the first time round, but after a few tries, he might get the idea.

Also avoid playing with him on the couch - maybe in the cat's head, you being in that place means play/challenge time.
post #4 of 12
You might want to tell people where you're at. If you're not in the North America and people keep suggesting primarily NA foods it can be annoying.

Sounds like it's just rough kitten play. You either have to redirect to toys constantly and give him lots of playtime to wear him out. Or go the lazy method and get him a playmate. Kittens are a lot easier to deal with when they have another kitten or cat with a similar energy level for them to play rough with.

This is actually a very very common problem for people that have one kitten/young cat or have a kitten and another cat that wants nothing to do with the new kitten. You could try searching past threads for even more suggestions.
post #5 of 12
Thread Starter 
hi! Thanks for the replies! I'm very intriqued with "da bird" lol, I wonder if I can get that in Canada. With regards to the food-he eats a diet that is exclusive sold through veterinarians and is formulated especially for bladder and oral health. He seems to be thriving on it and I've seen hundreds of animals thrive on the same diets. Hopefully it is okay for him-I'm leary of diets sold through stores although I have heard that Wellness is a very good alternative to veterinary diets. Stay AWAY from Iams, pedigree, store brands ect ect! (just my opinion though)

I'm thinking about getting another cat tree to put infront of the bay window but need to find one at a reasonable cost.

Thanks again for the input and I do apologize, I posted before correctly scanning the site. I see this subject has come up numerous times in the past! I guess my biggest question is does it sound like I have a "violent of vicious" cat? I'm thinking probably this is a dominance, kitten thing but appreciate opinions on that!

Thanks again
post #6 of 12
I don't think you're gonna get much argument from people here on the diet...

Anyway, http://www.armarkat.com has decent prices on cat trees. There's another around that's even lower and has free shipping but I can't remember it for the life of me. Maybe someone else can point you towards it.
post #7 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by swordtail600 View Post
I guess my biggest question is does it sound like I have a "violent of vicious" cat? I'm thinking probably this is a dominance, kitten thing but appreciate opinions on that!
This isn't a vicious cat. He's hit his teen age years and some of them really test your limits. I learned this from my (now 14 year old) Stumpy, who at that age, would bite me whenever I tried to discipline him. The things he taught me that don't work: Waggling a finger in their face when you say no (he would bite it), pointing a squirt bottle at them (I threw mine out 14 years ago), tapping their noses (he would swat my hand). What worked with him was redirection - give him a firm NO, then pull out a wand toy to distract him with play and praise him when he goes for it.

You are describing play behavior, which at that age and without another cat to play with, gets directed at you. And without another cat to teach him what is the right and wrong way to play, you are obligated to teach him cat manners. I don't see this as a dominance thing at all.
post #8 of 12
Thread Starter 
Hi all!

I was able to get another cat tree today at Petcetera (regular $200 marked down to $79.95! It is great and I think that with the combination of his other 8 foot cat tree, he will have lots of opportunity to climb!

I also bought a "Whipper Snapper Wand" for us to play with (creates a "chase") and a few other wands with toys attached. All of the "da bird" toys are sold out right now in my town-they will get a shipment next week.

Also, I bought a "Slim Cat" ball to put his dry food in (and he has to bat it around to get his dental food). He is actually an overweight kitty, not obese, but the vet certainly said he needs to drop some weight. I'm hoping that this will help keep him occupied and burn some calories while getting dinner. Does anyone disagree with these balls? I'm not sure, but I feel guilty making him work for his food, but he seems to be getting them out just fine. He will obviously still get his 1/2 can of wet food a day in his dish. Since he has been off kitten food and on to the adult diets, I thought he would drop some weight but that hasn't happened. He is a 10lb kitten!!

Thanks so much everyone, I'm loving my kitten but want to make this work out to the full potential!
post #9 of 12
It sounds like a teenage, bored, playful kitty. Good luck!

I've fostered kittens that are that extreme before, however my solution was to foster another kitty that was "naughty".

My thoughts:
*When he gets very "aggressive", re-direct him to a toy that is acceptible, not your flesh
*Play interactively with him 2x/day for 15+ mins each time - whether this be a game of fetch, playing with a wand toy, whatever
*I was going to suggest a treat ball & put his food in that - but I see you got one today! I think it's a very good idea.
*Look into lots of different toys to keep his mind busy - such as:

**Turbo Scratcher,

**Turbo Track,

**Peek a Prize,

**Tick Tock Teaser

Some cats love Ba Da Beam - it drives some batty.

A few cheaper, simple things my cats love:

Kitty Cubes

Our our purr-sonal favorite - SPRINGS!

I find that to keep my cats busy, I rotate toys. I have 6 large ziploc bags of toys, and once or twice a week I pick up all the toys (or at least the ones I can find ) & put them away, opening a new bag. I rotate them around to give them new/different things.
post #10 of 12
Like the others have mentioned, I don't think you have a violent or vicious cat at all. You've just got a normal 9 mo kitten and they're learning the rules of the game. Because there aren't other cats around to teach appropriate play, you're the teacher. Lots of toys, lots of playtime, and lots of love and he'll be a well adjusted cat.
post #11 of 12
Try a laser pointer too..Our cats had wand toys but not all three of them would play with it. So we got a laser pointer which works out well because we can relax on the couch and still play with the cats at the same time. Its awesome it took a day or two for them to realize what it was but now we bring it out and all three cats come running....**BTW I know this is horrible but we have actually tried pointing the laser on one of the cats while another was playing and had GiGi pounce on top of Hercules..HILARIOUS..ohhh Im a bad meowmy*
post #12 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by 3CatsN1Dog View Post
**BTW I know this is horrible but we have actually tried pointing the laser on one of the cats while another was playing and had GiGi pounce on top of Hercules..HILARIOUS..ohhh Im a bad meowmy*
I've done this, too and it is sooooooo funny! I also run it up the walls, on the ceiling, along the side of furniture and in the dark hallway. The cats love it!
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