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Bad Mommy: Have I Ruined my Kitty?

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 
All right, I know that you aren't really supposed to play with your cats with your hands and feet. But...I've always played with my cat this way. And other ways which probably encourage aggressive behavior, like sticking my hand in a plastic bag and swishing it around until he attacks it...he just doesn't like "normal" toys like bouncing mice, catnip, string, etc. That's all find, but my cat has gotten more aggressive by leaps and bounds. He sometimes sleeps at the foot of the bed and wakes me up from time to time by biting my feet - hard - ears back, the whole works. Sometimes when I'm petting him, he'll be purring and everything is fine, and suddenly the ears go back and he bites - hard. This is not overstimulation by petting or "love bites." Then he jumps back, slinks down to the ground, pupils huge, ears down, like he's going to attack me. I *KNOW* that the way I've played with him is probably not the best and that I've encouraged this behavior. My question is this...will he be aggressive like this for life??? He's just 2 years old. Thank you for any advice that you have!!!!!!!!!!!!1
post #2 of 7
Yikes! Sounds like a handful...

Is he neutered? Does he go outside? Either one of those (if he's going outside he needs to be neutered) has helped curb aggression in male cats that I've known. My male cat became very aggressive when I moved from a house, where he could go outside, to a flat, where he couldn't.

Is he bored? You know what they say--the best way entertainemnt/exercise for a cat is another cat.

I'm sure someone more experienced will post soon! Just wanted to offer some moral support.
post #3 of 7
Originally Posted by julia123
My question is this...will he be aggressive like this for life??? He's just 2 years old. Thank you for any advice that you have!!!!!!!!!!!!1
He doesn't have to be like this for life, but you have to stop what you are doing with him and start redirecting him towards positive behavior. He has 2 years of habit behind him that you need to break and unless you are 100% consistent with him from here on out, he may always be aggressive with you.

The best interactive toys that I've found for cats are wand toys, preferable with natural components like feathers or leather at the end. It puts distance between you and the cat and can wiggle enough to keep them engrossed.

For bed attacks, use time outs when they go after your feet. The rare times that mine have done that, I sit up and grab the cat, bring them close to me and hold them still while they get their lecture (the firm no as you grab them, then a calming talk about bed time being sleepy time). If it still persists, they get a time out in the bathroom. Over time, the NO stops them at night.

Hand attacks are easier. Same technique as above but you can add a hiss or a puff of air to their face on top of the NO. Timing is crucial - you need to catch them in the act for it to be effective. And never simply say no without redirecting them to the positive behavior.

Have you thought about getting him a playmate?

Don't give up and train yourself to be consistent with him.
post #4 of 7
My cat used to bite my feet as a kitten, now he just stopped on his own.
post #5 of 7
They don't usually stop on their own, not when you encourage them as kittens that your hands and feet are play toys. Throttle back and get some interactive toys cat dancer, kitten tease, da Bird, all are excellent prey type toys. The thing is when humans play with cats/kittens, the kittens are not playing, they are preying. If they see their "prey" in their eyesight, they will pounce- they will climb up legs, jump on shoulders and do what they would do naturally when they hunt.

When you play you mimic the behavior of the hunter/prey- you wiggle the prey, wait for the cat to pounce, then move the prey, let the cat strike, then repeat- at the end of each play session you follow it up with a yummy meaty treat so the cat has a reward for the hunt
post #6 of 7
I did not know about following up a play session with a treat. That's useful information. Thanks.
post #7 of 7
Thread Starter 
Thanks, guys! I also have to break *my* habit of using my hands and feet. Yes, kitty is neutered and I do let him go out in the yard a couple of times per week when I'm gardening...but he's a solo kitty. He is TERRIFIED of other cats. Once I got another cat, a very sweet and gentle one. I tried all the tricks...keeping them in separate rooms, petting them with towels and switching the towels so that they'd get used to each other's scents, etc. My cat was so traumatized that he hid under the couch the entire 2 weeks. I had to give the other cat to a friend. I'm afraid that, as much as I'd like another one, this cat won't allow it. : )
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