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A little help please.

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
My wife and I just adopted two kittens. They are nice little guys, but I think a friend of mine gave me some bad advice.

He told me that if I hold a kitten on its back and pet it, it will learn to trust you. Kitten one went right to sleep and I thought all was well. Kitten two meowed a bit and wiggled but seemed to calm down. When I went to put it down on the ground, however, it wrapped its paws around my hand and started meowing in earnest. It didn’t bite or put it’s ears back, but I think I may have moved to set it down to fast and startled it. The pain of tiny claws startled me back, however, and I reflexively flung it off my hand onto the couch (about a one foot drop).

It didn’t run away or act scared when I approached it later, but I’m worried I’ve made the cat hate me. Any advice on getting a kitten to bond that won’t get me bitten?
post #2 of 10
Uh oh, you were given very bad advice indeed! A kitten being flipped on his back will prepare to go to war. His weapons (claws and teeth) are at the ready and he hates being so vulnerable as to having his soft belly exposed. They are low on the food chain and they now feel like prey instead of predator. I know it was reflex to fling it off you- but you are fortunate it wasn't hurt. Next time, if it happens and the kitten grabs you- thrust gently into the bite, and the kitten will disengage its teeth and claws- how young of a kitten is this?
post #3 of 10
Thread Starter 
Oh, it didn't bite. Just kind of grabbed on and dug in. I think it's afraid of heights--it doesn't climb as much as the other one. I felt bad about shaking it off my hand (and it scratched me up but good). I was sitting on the couch, and when I went to set it next to me it started crawling all over my hand. That's when it grabbed me and I shookit off onto the cushions.

It's a male kitten, about 9 weeks old. Litter trained and on solid food, but still clumsy.
post #4 of 10
Maybe your friend was getting confused. If a cat rolls on its back it means one of two things - either it is ready to fight, as Hissy says, or it is completely trusting and wants a tummy rub. The difference is fairly easy to spot - if it is happy and relaxed it will have its paws apart with claws retracted, possibly even stretching its front legs above its head, its eyes half closed and might be purring. But you can never force a cat into this position - it is just wonderful when it happens.
post #5 of 10
Don't worry, your kitten won't hate you.

Cats don't like being held on their backs, but after your kittens learn to trust you, you can accustom them to accepting it, if that's what you like to do. Just get them used to it slowly and don't push them any farther than they're comfortable with. All my cats let me hold them on their backs. And they let me scratch their tummies, too. They know I won't hurt them, or drop them, so they tolerate my un-cat like behavior.

Rocket being held on his back in the crook of my arm (like a baby):

Note the expression on his face!!
post #6 of 10
The only one of our cats that likes being held on her back is our neurologically impaired kitty. Her back legs don't work well, so instead of stretching standing up, she'll lie on her side to stretch - and she loves to roll around and lie on her back. She also loves belly rubs - which none of our other cats do. (Four of them are three years old, the fifth is two and our little neuro problem is one). If our cats are on their backs it's because they're overstimulated and they're about to attack with their back feet.

Basically, you'll just have to give fling kitty a little more time to come to trust you again. It'd be best not to approach her, really, but let her come to you when she's ready. Just spend a lot of time in whatever room she's in, and she'll get curious enough to want to investigate you. Also remember, cats are NOT dogs. If she approaches, and you want to let her sniff you, slowly hold your hand out palm DOWN not up. And don't look them in the eyes - kind of look at them on the forehead. Cats don't look at each other in the eyes unless it's a confrontation. As a matter of fact, "looking" at them with your eyes closed may feel foolish, but they'll come to trust you a lot faster.

Good luck, and don't hesitate to ask other questions!
post #7 of 10
Originally Posted by coaster

Note the expression on his face!!
ROFL Yup, I see what you mean! That cat looks like he seriously wants to be let down NOW!
post #8 of 10
Actually, he's a very tolerant and easy-going cat, despite the look on his face. Sometimes I think he's got a dog somewhere in his ancestors!! He likes all kinds of dog-type horseplay that normally cats aren't supposed to like. I get a lot of those "are you nuts?" kind of looks, but he never gives me warning bites.

(Apologies for the temporary hijack)
post #9 of 10
Yes, every cat is different. Bijou hates being held on his back like a baby but our Simba used to LOVE being carried around in our arms like a baby. He would lay there for hours literally if we could stand to hold him that long.
post #10 of 10
Dushka is the only one of mine who likes being held on her back. She goes all limp and cuddly:

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