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Hit-and-run biting and fake/real attacks.....

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 

My mother's female kitten, Amber, 6 months, has a very distinct personality compared to our other cats. She doesn't like to be picked up, but she wants to be near humans.

What she DOES do is hit-and-run attacks. She doesn't seem to hurt, but she constantly **pretends** to bite or scratch. She lashes out as though she's going to bite you but never goes through with it.

Is she trying to provoke playing, or is it fear-aggression? She certainly wants to play, and wants everyone to be close - just not TOO close.

She's never really been hit outside of a mild tapping and scolding for actual biting (by my mother). That's rare. She was taken in at 4 weeks from a feral/stray.

She's otherwise very affectionate and playful. But if you get too close - expect a lunge, a fake bite or no-claws swat and a run.

(PS - she lives with two Great Danes - I don't know if that's part of a "everybody's bigger than me" syndrome - she doesn't show any fear of them whatsoever).


post #2 of 11
I don't know Scott but that is a face to die for: what a cutie pie. I can see where she maybe freaked out by the size of everyone that Dane looks like the "Jolly Green Giant" compared to her.
post #3 of 11
I'm by no means an expert, but I think that due to her being separated from her mom and siblings so young, she hasn't had quite the socialisation she'd otherwise have had. I'm guessing she's sort of torn- wants to be close, but if too close, she gets nervous, wants to play, but doesn't quite know how to go about it and might be a bit scared at the same time. I could be totally wrong. Sounds a lot like my Noelle, who was separated from her mom at 5 weeks, and from her sister at 6 weeks. I didn't have any other cats when I got her at that age, and since you do, it might be a different story.

Noelle did a lot of what you describe- her idea of playing was attacking people, and even today she doesn't like getting too close. She wants petting, but only when she asks for it, if you do it at other times, she'll grab your hand and give a soft bite to show she doesn't want it. Doesn't like to be picked up, but she will come to my lap for cuddles, but only when she wants it, and won't be held. As a kitten, her idea of playing was the attack and run- if you reached out for a cup of coffee on a table, she'd jump at your hand, grab it, and run away. Or at your ankles when you got out of bed. Not real attacks, she didn't hurt me (intentionally) and she stopped those as she got older. I always figured that she didn't quite know how to play without hurting her playmates, and was also practising her "hunting skills". She also wanted to be close, but had (and has) a real aversion to being held, she wants to be the one controlling the situation- if she's not, she gets nervous and annoyed.
post #4 of 11
Thread Starter 
Eeva -

Yes, that actually would describe her behavior very well. As long as touching is on her terms, great. If not - she mock-attacks and runs. You would have little luck in picking her up, but she wants to be close by. She likes attention and companionship...she just doesn't want anyone invading her personal space.
post #5 of 11
Wow. You discribed Emmett quiet well. He is nearly 8 months. They told me he was 6 weeks when I picked him up, but he seemed too small maybe 4 or 5 weeks. He always wants to be near me, but any interaction is usually on his terms.

Just this morning he was crying to go in the bathroom for his drink out of the bathtub tap. I got up but someone was in there taking a shower so I went to go back to bed and let him in when they got out. He attacked my arm and wouldn't let go. I finally had to put a blanket over him and talk softly to him and pet him until he calmed down.

Now he is back to his normal self. He doesn't viciously attack me, just grabs on to my arm or legs.

Could this behaviour be from being taken from his mother too early? He tends to attack the dog we have too, I know it isn't to hurt him, I think its his way of playing.

Any suggestions to get though this phase? You said you kitten calmed down a lot when she got older. How much older???
post #6 of 11
This really is just typical kitten play. Especially after a kitten born outdoors is brought in and shown love they really revel and enjoy the kittenhood they were denied. Momcat keeps her litter very close to her and quiet in order for them to survive detection.

I would be very interactive with both cats with either a fishing pole and line with a lightweight toy attached to it and just really play with both of them without body parts being involved.

Just because a cat wants to be near humans does not mean that they want to be handled. Picking up a cat, denotes capture, and many cats will struggle and bite and claw to get free. Ignoring this cat for awhile, just seeing to her needs, will work. She will wonder why there are no attempts to pet her and it won't harm her at all to be ignored in the pets and strokes and carry department. It is the quickest way I know to let a cat understand you mean them no harm.
post #7 of 11
Thanks for advice Hissy. I don't pick of Emmett all that much. Just when I carry him up to my room when I'm settling in for the night. Or when I get home and smuther him with kisses

I just don't know how to handle the biting all the time!!
post #8 of 11
The attacking behaviours I described started to go away after she was spayed, around 1 year. Maybe at about 2 they were gone. Like I said, the petting thing is still there, and will always be, I think. She's not the easiest cat to live with, people she hasn't seen before should not go and try to pet her, she won't have that. I always let all cuddling go on her terms, there's no reason really to pet her when she doesn't seem to want it.

The holding thing is so bad with her that even trimming her claws and brushing used to be a real struggle, and even today isn't a piece of cake. When I absolutely have to pick her up and restrain her, like taking her to the vet, I just do it, slow and gentle, even if she does hiss and growl.

She doesn't warm up to people very fast, I think my mother is the only other person whose lap she'll get into, even after knowing some of my friends for years. So when she comes into my lap, stretches those paws of hers on each side of my neck and licks my chin a little, I know how much it means- she is never that relaxed with anyone else.
post #9 of 11
Oh yeah, forgot to say- the attack and bite I always just ignored. If she attached herself to my hand, I just didn't move. She'd let go pretty soon and go and do something else. If I tried to get my arm free, she'd just think that how nice it was for me to join in the play, and bite or hold harder, "to kill the prey". And like Hissy said, I always tried to play with her a lot, with toys that is. Never with any body parts.
post #10 of 11
2 years!!! Em is fixed. Got him fixed ASAP. I do think he was taken from his mom too early. I wonder how his brothers and sisters are doing. He was the last to go.

Em doesn't like children. I think the children who lived in the house I got him from were too rough with him. He does like people when they come to the door and stuff. I took him over to meet my boyfriend and he wanted to stay there. I think becasue it is more quiet then where I'm living now.

I'm sure Em will be okay. He just needs a lot of TLC.
post #11 of 11
What I do with kittens or new cats is whimper really loudly in a high pitched voice if they bite. When they let go they get ignored. My cats learned quickly that biting hurts me, is not acceptable and adjusted their behavior. Now when they bite it is very gentle and only if we are playing with them. If they bite hard they get a hiss and ignored.
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