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Training a cat not to use claws when playing?

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 
Is this possible?

I have had my cat since July now and he has come a long way. He is pretty fantastic except for now that he is more happy and at home (he was a stray that I adopted) he wants to "play fight" all the time. I have a TON of other toys for him, but chasing my hand or foot is his favorite. A lot of the time he just pounces and runs away, but once I play a little he starts to get into it and then his claws come out. It is confusing for me as I I wouldn't call it aggressive at all, but it still is embarrassing to come into work with a scartched up hand. He just doesn't seem to understand the boundaries and that it hurts me when the claws come out.

He is a very gentle cat otherwise and sleeps in the bed with me every night.

I don't want to dscourage the play per se and I find it cute and funny and fun...but his claws are sharp (I was going to post on Health about ways to cut nails as I am scared to do it as I don't think he will relax and I am not sure how far down to cut).

Is there a way to "discipline" him to play nice and still wrestle with me without his nails being out so much?

post #2 of 7
You really should discourage this play. The hands and feet are interactive toys, meaning they move a lot easier and are stimulating to cats to play with. I know I used to love to play the blanket and toes game, but one day a nasty bite taught me that this play should be forbidden. I now do several things with all the cats I have, I never play hand, finger or feet games. If they attack me as I am walking across the floor- I put a strip of cloth that is smeared with Vicks Vapo rub and wrap it around my ankles to keep them away. If they attack our feet when we are asleep or getting ready for bed, I clap my hands once sharply and say QUIT and they run off. They learn what is acceptable and what is not. Also, even after your cat has been spayed or neutered, heavy petting/stroking of their back or rubbing their tummy can stimulate them and make them sexually aggressive- which is why some cats curl up and rabbit kick, bite and claw when people rub them to long or to hard.
post #3 of 7
Thread Starter 
Thanks for your reply.

I do like playing with him though! Is there no way to reach any compromise? I guess I feel guilty as he is home all day alone and even though I have fake mice (which he loves) and all kinds of things hanging down on string etc...I feel like he doesn't play much unless I am around. I do have a laser light which he LOVES chasing. These days he jumps on my bed and just starts pouncing is so cute..and then I move my foot under the covers and he chases it! He looks so happy! So it is hard to stop that playing when I know he loves it.

Ugh...what you say makes sense....but it is hard! Also, he doesn't respond to well to me saying "NO" in a loud voice. I read somewhere that you said you turned him on his back and held him down and said NO?

I am so confused about this one.
post #4 of 7
I use a fishing for kitty pole or just a plain rope to play interactively with them - it gives me a bit of distance between my hands and the babies. I've also seen a play glove with extra long fingers with jingly things on the ends - looks like a toy to them, disquises your hand, and you are still playing with them.

And in spite of all of this, my hands (and legs, and arms, and feet) are perpetually scratched - they engage me in play when I'm not looking or when I'm sound asleep in bed (LOL). Part of the price of having kittens!
post #5 of 7
Please click here to read about how to stop play aggression.
post #6 of 7
Thanks for the link on playful aggression. This is a problem I've been working on myself. It helps to refresh myself on how to deal with it.

I do have the scratched up hands. Although some of the time they're from when they dig their claws in out of fear or when they don't want to be moved and try to get down. (Found out, quite painfully, when he dug all four claws into me, that my cat Mozart is afraid of my brother. - my brother doesn't spend time around the cats.)

I have been looking for those warning signs when I have Mozart in my room. He usually sniffs first before he bites. (my wrist, arms, hands must smell bitable ) I don't know what to do when I'm asleep though. He only sleeps in my room on occassion. I don't always sleep with socks on, but one night I did and Mozart took them off in the middle of the night. Another time I woke up to him biting my toe. It wasn't hard enough to break the skin, but not a fun way to wake up.

Sometimes, he'll pay more attention to my hand holding the toy, even if the toy is on a string, two feet away. He knows that it's my hand manipulating the toy. So, I recently tried this toy that hangs in the middle of the door from the frame. (I don't have to touch it.)
post #7 of 7
try instead of your hand to use a long plastic straw and hid it and move it under the covers....I do this with my cats and they love it, especially when it hides and pops out every once in a while. I do this also hiding the straw under a newspaper or place mat, anywhere it can hide and reappear, and they only attack the straw. I always said no, when my hands and feet were used for play, and now they know to only attack and bite the straw! (note I also cover my hand with what ever I am using to hide the staw under, really make them go nuts, and you are still in active play!)

with saying ow, when they do sratch you, even when it doesn't hurt, I still say ow so they know not to touch skin with claws...and now Roxy will playfight with me and not use her claws, but still bites a little, not hard!
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