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do you let your kitty wrestle with you?

post #1 of 26
Thread Starter 
my cat's favorite game is to play wrestle with my hands. I let her do it cause it makes her happy and it's kinda fun (besides the occassional scratches on my arms).

A lot of websites I've read say that owners should discourage this behaviour. But why? Is it actually harmful for the cat, or me, to let her do it?

I tried using a stuffed animal as a substitute for my hand, but she wasn't interested.

If I get a another young cat, will they wrestle with eachother and leave my hand alone?
post #2 of 26
You are encouraged not to because in most cases your cat will grow up thinking it is ok to bite, for whatever reasons.

I made this very mistake with my 11 year old when she was a baby.
It made her very aggressive, you couldn't handle her at all for two years unless you wanted to wrestle with her.

I was eventually able to teach her differently, and she's ok now, but many times, you can't untrain a behavior if it has been allowed for too long.


There is a cat toy called Kitten Mitten, perfect for wrestling.
post #3 of 26
I've been "lucky" in the sense that my male cats have always bonded with me through wrestling. I say this with caution because, as stated previously, bad behavior can be taught by doing this. My cats know I am the only one they can get rough with, they won't even try to wrestle with anyone else even if the other people try. This is where I feel lucky because my kitties know the limits. They know to never hit me in the face or bite with excessive force. They know when to quit and they know to respect me even at the height of this rough play.

I guess it all comes down, in my opinion, to what type of cat you have and the relationship between you and your cat. I would never recommend rough play with a cat who shows no interest, and I would never recommend it for sensitive cats who don't read into it too well (resulting in you being bitten and the kitty being scared).

My Baby Kitty seeks me out every day for rough play but he also has his times where he only wants affection. I'm blessed in the sense that he finds so many different sources of love, playtime & companionship with me. But as I said, I would never tell anyone else to "wrestle" with their cats unless they know very well what type of personality their kitty has. It can be a bonding experience or it can leave you both with scars (emotional and physical).
post #4 of 26
hmmm...i do wrestle with two of my cats, and they have learned not to bite. although they will wrap their leg around my socks and backkick, but i do hear some ppl say it is bad. i feel as if my cats bonded more to me, i think it all depends how far you let it go, and the personality of the cat. i will not wrestle with one of my cats, i value my fingers. i have read that as kittens it is best to teach them that wrestling is off limits. they will learn that biting is okay. so i will give both point of views.
post #5 of 26
I let Buffy wrestle with my hand occationally, but never Willow. For one thing, Willow's attitude (or shall I say Torti-tude) is bad enough, and for another, Willow just doesn't care to wrestle. If you try it, it won't be called wrestling. She'll just be shredding your hand till you don't have any skin left, and then she'll run away, mad as hell.

With Buffy, I only do it when she's getting the zoomies and has "zoomed" up onto a couch and flipped over onto her back. Then I place my hand over her four feet and move them back and forth, while mock screaming and growling ("ahhhh, mrrrrrreowrrrr, graaaaarrrrr"). She goes crazy, will chew my fingers, then kick, and then use my hand to kick herself off the couch. Then she does another round of the zoomies around the house, lol. I know she enjoys it because of the way she acts; her eyes don't have that ticked-off look, they're the crazy-eyed thing she gets when she's in a funky mood and gets a little wild. Plus there's the fact that she doesn't avoid me like Willow would, lol

And both cats aren't the violent kind (unless it's Willow and she's ticked off, of course). They never bite when they play, or if they do, they know not to bite hard. It's just a kind of grab-the-skin-in-the-mouth-twist-the-skin-then-fly-away kind of thing. Just playful stuff. But they will bite when it comes to nail-clipping, and they'll bite hard, I won't lie about that, lol (well, Willow doesn't bite, she just beats my forearms with her back legs, but Buffy will bite)
post #6 of 26
Rocket likes to wrestle, but BEFORE I started doing that with him, I spent several months teaching him to not bite and to accomodate him to being handled.
post #7 of 26
Nope, I never do, learned long ago the hard way what happens as the cat grows up and considers my hands and fingers as prey.
post #8 of 26
I love to play with my kitties since I have had them all but one from kittens they are very use to me, They know there back off sounds.. Since they were babies, I would play but if they got out of hand, I would suddenly stop and say AAAA it sounds like I am saying AT really load, it would catch there attention so they would stop now when I do that they no I mean NO NO.. So even when it comes to getting on certain shelves, going around some plants and so on, if I see them and make the AT sound, they stop and walk away. HAHA its funny because I also did this with my son as he was growing up.

He makes fun at me when I do it and he says "This is great I get to tell everyone I have 8 furballs for sisters and brothers" Silly yes hehehehee
post #9 of 26
When I got aerowyn she was so small that all the toys I had for elliot dwarfed her, so I played with her with my hands mostly. This helped to be a litter mate substitute as she was too young when I got her, and she was way too small to play with elliot. She doesnt bite or scratch at all, and when I do "wrestle with her" she only does what would be called "gumming" my fingers, she doesnt ever even slightly poke me with a tooth, and then she will lick me Of course, every cat is different. Elliot doesnt wrestle because he doesnt like being on his back, and he also doesnt like his tummy to be touched. Sometimes if he is in a playful mood he will let me play with him like that, but its just about as often as he will lay on the bed beside me and sleep (which is once in a blue moon, and the moon would be dressed like madonna and dancing like micheal jackson while wearing a cheese head and wooden dutch clogs, while monkeys and weasels stream from the moon's armpits sining "all around the mulberry bush, the monkey chased the weasel") and that is really not quite that often
post #10 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by DaiDreamer
I love to play with my kitties since I have had them all but one from kittens they are very use to me, They know there back off sounds.. Since they were babies, I would play but if they got out of hand, I would suddenly stop and say AAAA it sounds like I am saying AT really load, it would catch there attention so they would stop now when I do that they no I mean NO NO.. So even when it comes to getting on certain shelves, going around some plants and so on, if I see them and make the AT sound, they stop and walk away. HAHA its funny because I also did this with my son as he was growing up.

He makes fun at me when I do it and he says "This is great I get to tell everyone I have 8 furballs for sisters and brothers" Silly yes hehehehee
That's funny! I make the exact same sound and they know to stop whatever it is they are doing "wrong".
post #11 of 26
No way! I don't know if it is because Garfield learned to wrestle with Festus, but he will use nails and teeth to wrestle. I have to just walk away. I have a big scratch on my left hand now, because I didn't realize a few days ago he was in a playful "mood".

Festus never uses her nails or teeth on me, except when she vigorously "makes biscuits".

I know if you wrestle with your cat, and allow it to bite and scratch you, you are creating an animal that no one else will want. I know we never plan to get rid of our beloved pets, but what if there was a tragedy, and you couldn't care for your baby. Are her chances better if she thinks it is ok to sometimes scratch people?

If she had a kitty friend, I'll bet they wouldn't let her scratch. (Gar is bigger than Fest, and she often hisses when he wrestles...if she was a little bigger I bet she would learn him a thing or two!)
post #12 of 26
No I don't let Sweetie wrestle with my hands or fingers, I just think it's a bad idea. He used to try to wrestle when I first adopted him a couple of months ago, but he'd start kicking with his back legs and was just playing way too rough in general. So I just said no and immediately removed my hand whenever he tried. Now it's no longer a problem since Sweetie seems to be a very smart cat who catches on quickly. However, when I'm petting the top of his head, he sometimes gently grabs my fingers with his paws and guides my hand to the area where he wants to be rubbed, and I do allow this.
post #13 of 26
I know the prevailing thought is to not allow your cat (or kitten) to bite your hands in play because they will continue to do so...

but after fostering kittens for many many years, I have found that if I don't teach them how hard they are allowed to bite my hand then they tend to increase their bite strength as they get older - which we all know is very dangerous.

I start when they are young, allowing them to chew on my hand (a natural behavior not only for cats but teething cats) and gently repremand them when they bite too hard with either the "ow" cry that their siblings do or a soft and kind "gentle". When they don't listen, they are placed on the floor and ignored for a few minutes.

In the hundreds of kittens I've fostered I've only had one kitten who didn't care to learn to be gentle.

I think it is very important to teach kittens that they need to be gentle when biting, because no matter how much you love them and how careful you are with them, there is going to be a time when they feel the need to give you a warning bite. Several of my own cats have done it to me for various reasons (One while grooming the other was in pain and I didn't realize I was making it worse), and they know to gently put their mouths on me and not bite down. Very effective for both of us.
post #14 of 26
Pumpkin is more than welcome to wrestle my hands. She's tiny and dainty, and she knows exactly how hard she can bite without doing damage.

Zero is another matter... he's so BIG that if he starts kicking with his back feet, I could loose some skin. Unfortunately, he's so big & fuzzy & cute that I can't resist sometimes. But I try to keep him from kicking...
post #15 of 26
Ok I'm guilty too. I let them play and wrestle with my hands. I think earlier posters are correct about being able to teach cats how hard to bite. I do one thing though, when they are getting a little aggressive. I'll say "No" very sternly and place a catnip toy in front of them instead. Yes, they have managed to tear apart most of their toys, but rarely do they tear me apart.
post #16 of 26
None of the cats I've ever had wanted to wrestle. My BF does it with his oldest cat and then complains when he gets bitten or scratched.
post #17 of 26
Yes! My husband and Rascal wrestle together all the time, it's their bonding time together. My husband wrestles Rascal with his hands, and it's so cute to watch them play. Yes my husband has gotten scratched a time or two, but only because I was due to trim Rascal's nails. Rascal has never deliberately hurt either one of us. But the funny thing is that Rascal just won't wrestle with me <pouts>
post #18 of 26
Playing with them with your hands like that is the wrong way. Then when the cat doesn't stop biting or scratching and then people post complaining about it, their the ones to blame, not the cat.

I played with Rosie with my hands and i payed the price, but i never did it with Sophie or Jack and not once have i been bitten or scratched by either of them.
post #19 of 26
I do it with Pirate because he seems to know very well what is OK and what is going too far. And he knows if mommy says ouch or no, then he better stop whatever he's doing. And I initiate rough-playing with Taylor because, well, it's just funny when she gets going (she's a cerebellar hypoplasia cat) and plus she has no claws (not my doing, I swear) and is missing some front teeth including one canine, so the risk of getting hurt are much lower than with a "normal" all-there cat lol. I don't encourage it with Mia, because she gets extremely timid and intimidated by anything louder than a whisper , or any rapid movements. She's just a lover, that's what she was put on this Earth to do, that's all.

I know it's discouraged, but I personally don't see anything wrong with it if you make sure that your cat firmly knows the boundaries.
post #20 of 26
Never.

I use toys but never my hands. He cuddles like a baby in my arms and never, ever bites or plays with my hands or feet. I like it that way. Makes it super easy to handle and bond with Marshmallow. 5 years old, no problems

He allows me to trim his fur, cut his nails, clean ears, clean teeth, etc... all because he doesn't think of hands as a toy, just an extension of his owner's body.
post #21 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by cesg View Post
I know the prevailing thought is to not allow your cat (or kitten) to bite your hands in play because they will continue to do so...

but after fostering kittens for many many years, I have found that if I don't teach them how hard they are allowed to bite my hand then they tend to increase their bite strength as they get older - which we all know is very dangerous.

I start when they are young, allowing them to chew on my hand (a natural behavior not only for cats but teething cats) and gently repremand them when they bite too hard with either the "ow" cry that their siblings do or a soft and kind "gentle". When they don't listen, they are placed on the floor and ignored for a few minutes.

In the hundreds of kittens I've fostered I've only had one kitten who didn't care to learn to be gentle.

I think it is very important to teach kittens that they need to be gentle when biting, because no matter how much you love them and how careful you are with them, there is going to be a time when they feel the need to give you a warning bite. Several of my own cats have done it to me for various reasons (One while grooming the other was in pain and I didn't realize I was making it worse), and they know to gently put their mouths on me and not bite down. Very effective for both of us.
My thoughts too. I allow all of my cats to wrestle with me and teach an appropriate level of response. In the case of Hemmy, this took some work as he came to me as an adult and had to learn to curb the intensity of his bite. He did learn, however, and we have a good time "fighting" with each other these days.

I really think teaching my cats how and when they may play bite is one of the best things I ever did. They know the boundaries and I just enjoy the game, even if sometimes I end up with a scratch if someone gets really wound up (they are corrected for it! ) It's really just a personal choice.
post #22 of 26
The rule in my household is "Hands are not toys!" If I knew how to train an almost 2 year old cat how to 'play-bite', then maybe the wrestling thing would be ok. But until then, hands are a no-no. When Genever stops killing the mouse and starts killing my hand, play time stops. (she's getting there, but not quite catching on totally, i think it's because SOMEONE (BF) lets her get away with biting...)

Basically I don't like to get bitten, and I don't want to ever have to deal with someone else getting bitten. Animal bites are a touchy subject, and you never know how a supposedly cat-friendly visitor will react to a bite. So that's why I don't do the wrestle thing. But like others have said, every cat is different, so do what you're comfortable with.
post #23 of 26

I used to wrestle with my cat all the time.  I would walk up to him, pet him and say "Ya wanna wrastle?"  Then I would take him by the shoulders, turn him over on his back and "pin" him for a second.  If he spread his feet out to make it harder to turn him over, I took that as a no and would pet him or bedazzle him with a toy instead.

After the "pin" I would touch him in random spots and let him scratch and bite to his heart's content.  I'd let him succeed in landing the "blow" about half the time.  He loved it.  I know that because I never pressured him to continue it.  As soon as he wanted to stop he would stand up and be petted.  When he was younger he would really go at it.  Of course, as he got older he had less and less desire to wrestle.

Applying my hindsight to the "never let your cat bite you or he'll think it's OK to bite whenever he pleases" sentiment, I have to recommend against letting your cat bite you only because of the Bullies in Blue.  My cat never bit anyone - family or visitor - outside of our little wrestling sessions, and he was a perfectly well-behaved cat all around.    However, I get pretty much 0 visitors.  Also, my skin is like armor plating and no feline has ever drawn more than a drop or two of blood from me.  The thinner skinned would have been really ripped up by one of these sessions.

So the thin-skinned should use caution and stop when they lose the match, but that would be the only caveat if it weren't for the Bullies.  Consider the problem of a pansy not-really-a-friend friend that comes over for a visit and gets bitten or scratched.  Even though the "injury" was laughable, Pansy sues you and/or has the Bullies murder your family member.  No matter how much your cat enjoys it, wrestling with him or her is not worth the risk of legalized murder.  Then again, Pansy might provoke even the most well-mannered cat and the end result would be the same, so some would reasonably consider my argument moot.

post #24 of 26

Cesg is right on target; that's exactly how my mother did it and that's how I still play with kittens. "Dog people", eg. trainers, have figured out that puppies need to learn bite inhibition at a young age, and I don't think kittens are much different in that regard.

We wrestled with our cats if they wanted to, but not with bare hands--it wouldn't necessarily make a cat "more violent" but they can get confused and think that you want to wrestle when you really just want to scratch their bellies. We always used a few thick socks like a glove. It was funner on both sides that way--and meant that Keef and Tohey, who had unrealistically sharp teeth, could still play with us without inadvertently causing damage.

I don't think that kind of play needs to be discouraged when the cat understands how to play gently and the human understands how not to play in an overbearing/taunting way. The only downside to wrestling with our cats the way we did was that some of our socks went missing, only to be found later tucked behind doors or in the kitty litter(!) or in other odd places. Basically they considered the sock to be the toy, not the hand.

post #25 of 26

The Spotted Wonder........er Da Magpie will wrestle a bit and she started killing my hands at the ripe old age of 4 months. She never bites but will gnaw on my fingers a bit. She never used claws from the very start but would grip my hands with paw pads only and can lift herself up like that, never a claw out of place. Until I had her in the house, I never realised how strong a cat's paws were even without claws; yep, she has them and has never clawed me, accidentally or otherwise. Da Lip will sometimes wrestle but he's nailed me with a claw  a few times, but never bites beyond the same gnawing Da Magpie does and he restricts that to one thunbnail. None of my cats has ever bitten anyone, play or otherwise.

post #26 of 26

I wrestled with all my cats when they were babies, I thought it was funny to get them all worked up xD, I was mean, but I never hurt them ofcourse, and yes, I was guilty of pestering them when they didn't want to play u_u

 

Finn still likes to wrestle every once in a while or on my prompting to get her going o3o but she's usually (about 90% of the time) very gentle

 

Paint and Emry have grown out of wrestling however ;_;

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