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Non-aggressive (??) biting

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 
Hi, everyone - I found this post and am hoping to get some insight into my cat's behavior. I'm going to apologize in advance for what is probably going to be a long entry. First, some background...

About 3 weeks ago, we adopted a starving stray cat, who still doesn't have a name for sure because I keep changing my mind (I'm leaning towards Simba). He's a pretty orange/blonde cat, fairly small, was so severely starved that he has had muscle loss in his legs, but otherwise got a clean bill of health from the vet (after shots, blood tests, wormer, flea & tick medicine, heart guard, etc.). He was obviously a house cat in his prior life, since he had been neutered and de-clawed (I know, but I didn't do it!!), and is litter-box trained. He was terrified for the first few days, but has become quite friendly. He is a VERY serious cat - I have finally got him to play with a little yarn for a minute or two at a time, but he's really pretty quiet and laid back. The vet was not able to make a good guess at his age - he is adult, that's pretty much all I know, but he doesn't look like a really old cat to me. I'd guess a young adult, but it's just a guess.

This cat does something that I've never seen a cat do before - he bites me a lot, but it almost never seems aggressive. He mainly does it at night - he comes up by my head in bed and head-buts me hard a few times, then if I don't get up he starts biting me (not hard), purring loudly the whole time. He also bites me alot when I'm sitting at the computer - there is a table behind my chair, and he gets behind me, head-buts me in the back, then bites my back. Again, he purrs the whole time, and it almost seems like he is trying to be affectionate. The only time he has drawn blood was one night, he had awakened me 3 times in about 2 hours, and each time I picked him up and put him at the foot of the bed. The third time I did it he bit me hard and hissed loudly - apparently he did not want to be moved. So it's more irritating than painful, but it's still a little scary because, well, he's biting me a lot. And the strangest thing is that he really only does it to me - he's nipped at the kids when they've petted him too long, but that seems more normal. He will head-but my husband at night some too, but never bites him like he does me.

Any ideas? Like I wrote, it's almost like affection sometimes, but he will nip lightly when he's irritated also. I really have no idea if there is any way to stop it.

Thanks for any help...

post #2 of 9
First of all...Bravo to you for rescuing this poor cat!

My bet is that he is giving you love nibbles. This is where they do small grooming bites, usually with the front teeth only (rather than a full open mouth bite). This is a sign of affection. If he starts doing this too hard or if you find it irritating, just blow a small puff of air in his face and then turn away from him.

I'll bet that he bit you hard the one time because you picked him up and it startled him. I have a wonderful, cuddly cat, but she has always been sensitive about having her waist handled - she bites if I pet her waist for too long or if I pick her up with too much pressure on her waist. So, instead of picking him up, just turn over or nudge him off the bed.

Good luck!
post #3 of 9
I agree with lotsocats that is more likely a love biting from your cat . I had one cat doing the same thing just like your cat .A little puff with air on him may help , I like that idea . Or you can get him out of your bedroom , but then he may cry befor your bedroom door .
post #4 of 9
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the replies! I think you are right that most of these are 'love bites' - I had just never heard of a cat doing that! We have started putting him out of the room at night, but it's easy to fall asleep petting him. I just put him out a couple of hours later when he wakes me up! He's not too bad when we put him out - he'll march up and down the hall meowing a couple of times, but that's about it.

He will bite at us when we're petting him too sometimes, but it really seems to be more 'warning' type bites than anything really aggressive. I think he really, really wants some love and affection, but then doesn't really want us to touch him too much. Just like most of the cats I've known - everything is on their terms!

I will try the puff of air - mostly it's just annoying, but I would rather he didn't bite so much. When he woke me up this morning, he bit me in the shoulder and arm 4 times, then a little harder on my foot when I went back to bed (after discovering it was only 4:30 am).

It's so fun to have a cat again - I haven't had one in years. And this guy is just a wonderful cat. I put a table in front of a big window with his bed on it, and he curls up in the afternoon sun and purrs so loudly! I took a picture of him all curled up in his bed, and will post it once I get it developed. He's also surprisingly finicky for such a skinny guy - I've been feeding him Iams hard food, but also some soft food to try to fatten him up a bit. He LOVES the Friskies pouches, but turns his nose up at the 9 Lives...

PurrfectCatLove, are those all your cats??? They are gorgeous! Isn't it hard taking care of so many?

post #5 of 9
thank you Suzy , yes there are all my cats , but I have 22 all together they just don't fit on my sig .I also have 3 dogs . But you will see that I am not the only one who has so many cats And no , it isnt really to hard to take care of them all . I am most of my time at home .
post #6 of 9
Sam used to bite quite a bit when he was playing. I think that his previous family must have encouraged him to play with people's hands. He never bit down hard enough to draw blood, but I got some scratches from moving my hand when his teeth were touching.

I found one thing that worked on this site. When he would go to bite my hand, I would meow really loud, trying to sound like a kitten. He would stop immediately, and start licking my hand instead. My theory is that he just needed to be told in "cat" that biting was not appropriate.

He is also declawed, and I suspect that he uses his teeth instead of claws when he plays. I don't want to discourage this completely, as I think the poor boy should have some natural defenses left. So we do a lot of interactive play with feather on a stick, and I let him bite and chew the feather all he wants.
post #7 of 9
You are not the only one. Your cat sounds like my Zoey. She'll be head bonking me one minute and the next she's biting me. Little brat.
post #8 of 9
I'm glad you adopted this cat!

My Mr.Underfoot has always been a love biter...he would get this really adoring look in his eyes, then CHOMP! bite me right on the nose - ouch. Obviously that's not a habit you want to maintain, but I didn't want to make him afraid of me so I found a gentle way to teach him in a behavior book. This is supposed to imitate the way a mama cat would discipline her kitten: gently hold him still by the scruff of his neck in one hand and gently place your other hand over his eyes and face for just a moment - that's cat for "stop that". It worked for Mr. - after several repetitions he got the idea, and has contented himself with just licking me instead. It also may help to actively ignore the cat for a few minutes after it bites you.
post #9 of 9
Thread Starter 
Thanks so much everyone for all of the suggestions! Of course now that I've asked for help he hasn't been nipping much - aargh! But I now have some ideas on what to do when it happens.

Thanks again,
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