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Different types of biting?

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 
We've had our new cat, Henry in our house for two weeks and he is wonderful. He's a one year old neutered male (obvious, yes?) that we adopted from a shelter. The shelter wanted him adopted by himself so we're a one cat household. I've observed that he seems to bite (or more accurately grab our hands with his teeth) as a way of communicating with us. Gently (just holding on to our hand with his teeth) during petting (even at the beginning of petting), and less gently as a warning when we do something that he doesn't like such as picking him up the wrong way or at the wrong time. He's not exhibiting aggresive behavior and doesn't suddenly bite for no reason (his reasons of course). He doesn't bite very hard and doesn't come close to breaking the skin. How should I handle this? Can Henry distinguish affectionate biting from warning biting? If not, how can I stop him from biting without ruining our relationship?
post #2 of 16
I dont know...but Sahara does the same thing! We've had her about 4 weeks now, and she'll be very loving and purring while I'm petting her, and if I pet in the wrong place...chomp! If I pick her up when she doesnt want to be, she'll grab my shoulder with her paws, lean her head back, and strike at my face. When we first got her, she would draw blood, once bitting half way through my top lip, but now it's gotten better and she'll just bite hard enough as a warning bite would be. She's only around 10-12 weeks old right now, and I work constantly with her when this happens, talking to her in a very comforting secure voice, holding on to her gently so she learns that biting wont work to get her way, start a play time when she's angry so she'll forget why she's angry. It's just trail and error to find what works for different cats. I'm sure things will settle down when your cats becomes adjusted to you and his new home. Good Luck!
post #3 of 16
~~~ Waves to MarionE!~~~~ I adopted her cat Henry to her and I'm very happy that they all seem to love each other so much. If anyone can provide further insight to her question I'd be grateful!
post #4 of 16
Y'know, I don't have much to add other than to say that Jameson does the same thing. He's never bitten me hard, and he seems to be as surprised as I am when my hand/arm ends up in his mouth, although it's never ended up there on accident.

Jameson's about three years old, and I've had him for a little over two years now. It's happened about a dozen times since I've gotten him.
post #5 of 16
My persian 1 year old cat loves to bite. She will bite without any reason. I was suprised that persians can be this way. I hope she will get older and get over with biting.
post #6 of 16
I think that you are right about different kinds of biting. You will have to be aware of any and all body language that Henry uses along with, and shortly prior to biting. It sounds as if he is easily over-stimulated with affection (think "marrying a middle-aged bachelor "- like I did- a 50 year old! ) and probably isn't used to a lot of one-on-one. For kitties that don't like too much petting, I try to give just a little affection, then give them their space BEFORE they demand it. Another thing is that maybe Henry has a chronic sore or sensitive spot - my cat Cinders was rescued after months of living in a rest area & her biting alerted me to a sore right shoulder; a vet exam showed some scarring indicative of an untreated injury after being hit by a car or possibly kicked. My Persian-mix Miss Tobie was adopted from the shelter already declawed; she had been rescued by the police when they also arrested a husband who had beaten his wife so badly that the lady was hospitalized and the children taken into protective custody and animal control took the dog & cat, so she had several issues that led to her biting - adopted as an office cat (at first she was awesome)she would suddenly bite me, our secretary, tried to nip a client; I took her home & my grandson came over for a weekend visit -when she tried to bite him, he put his arm around her little cat shoulders & told her, "You don't have to bite anymore, Miss Tobie. This is a real home with a real family that loves you very much" and voila! she didn't bite ever again.
Now, Joey has suddenly started hissing & biting at JC (they were adopted at about 6wks. together, but from different litters) after over 1 yr., and if he's upset with JC, he's tried to nip me - I just hold him firmly & tell him to calm down, and as soon as he calms down, I put him down. But with JC, when he doesn't want to be brought back inside, He tried nipping for the first time the other day, so I put him down and told him that I wasn't petting him - he seemed to sense that & did every cute trick in the book do get me to give him attention, but I made him wait. Last night, he wanted to try to escape, I caught him & he swung his face around to nip, but I warned him, "Do you want to get ignored?" and he relaxed, so I immediately gave him "loves" and then spent alittle extra time pulling a rubber lizard on a string, to give him 1 on 1 playtime that also used up some of that "hunter's energy".
There seems to be so many kinds of biting. I'm sure that someone more knowledgeable will give you some better tips. You do have my sympathies - I love cuddly cats the best, and I think that deep inside, every cat has that potential, it's just that they have endured so many obstacles & developed so many defenses as a result, coupled with the fact that they can't verbalize what they need & want from us.
Bless you for taking in Henry into your family; best wishes for a close, happy relationship that brings you years of wonderful memories. Cheers, Susan
post #7 of 16
I think there are different types of biting. I've had Charlotte for 2 years and she uses her mouth to communicate with me. She has gently but firmly grasped my calf or arm (or other accessible body part) for a few seconds. It reminds me of an alpha dog grabbing an omega dog's muzzle and letting it know it's the boss and doesn't like the omega's behavior. When Charlotte grasps me, sometimes her ears are back and she has a pissed off look in her eyes. Other times, it's just the grasp without the additional body language. To this day, Charlotte has never pierced my skin by doing this.
post #8 of 16
Agreed with the others there are different bites depending on the circumstances. I don't know if there's actually any scientific classification for them, but I break them down this way: 1) love bites 2) play bites 3) warning bites 4) fighting bites 5) kill bites in ascending order of severity.

My belief is that you should discourage a cat from doing any biting at all. In the first place, his love/play/warning/fighting bites are used to doing to another cat, who is thickly covered in fur, and we aren't. Furthermore, in the heat of stress a cat may bite harder than intended. So I think by teaching a cat that a human doesn't like to be bit at all, even a love bite, you lower the possibility of an injury sometime down the road when the cat is big, strong and mature.

Also, your vet will appreciate it.
post #9 of 16
Firstly, congratulations on getting a cat from a shelter
I adopted Villy from a shelter 6 months ago, she's 7 (ish)

Villy will sometimes bite me when I'm fussing her, usually when I'm rubbing her belly. She will usually grab my hand with her front paws and then bite it. She doesn't break the skin with her teeth or anything, but I usually just stop whatever I'm doing with her immediately and ignore her. I think this works as she doesn't bite too often. I think she might be playing, or just telling me that she's had enough, I'm not sure, but I think by ignoring her she's getting the message that biting is NOT a good thing to do, as it only results in being ignored and not getting any more fuss!

Good luck with your new kitty, I hope you are very happy together
post #10 of 16
Neither of my boys bite, but my Shalimar (RB) did. She would bite when over stimulated, or when pissed off. For the overstimulation, you need to watch for the signs and stop petting BEFORE that. It gradually becomes a longer time, but it will never go away.

Cats can be taught not to bite by using time outs. I used to lock Shali out of the room when she would get agressive. After a while, I would let her in and she would be gentle. But if I left her in the room, it would escalate. (She once bit the back of my head when I was living in a studio apartment and had nowhere to lock her)
post #11 of 16
Sounds pretty normal. Our male, now about 6 months and neutered, loves to "bite" my hand but he doesn't break skin and has become more gentle/playful rather than aggressive in recent weeks. I think he's getting an idea of what's acceptable play and what hurts! Too rough and the play ends and off the bed he goes. But I believe some cats will bite/scratch if you pet their tummies, perhaps they feel vulnerable or they get over-excited. I like the gently biting but the thing is to stop the play before it gets rough.
post #12 of 16
I have a cat with similiar issues. I've raised lots of kittens and they are usually out of the bitey stage well before a year old. I have a one year old right now that has biting issues similar to what you are experiencing. He spent the 6 months following his neuter in a cage in the vets office and is blind, so I'm still trying to figure out if that has something to do with his biting. Sometimes he just bites at us when we first go to pet him....so it's not over stimulation.

Anyway, I've just been verbally correcting him, a firm "no" or "no bite" when he goes to bite me seems to stop him. I also stop giving him attention when he gets "bitey". Basically I just treat it like you would regular biting issues in a cat. I wouldn't just dismiss it....cats need to be taught not to bite humans..... Even if they don't break the skin, biting a human is not acceptable behavior. Let us know how he does! Thanks for saving him from a shelter.....I'm sure he'll be just fine with you.
post #13 of 16
OK for the Love Bite here, but I have a 5 month old kitten that will not leave me alone, I can't even walk, she's like a glue stick, I can't get up without her following me, she licks my face nose feet and hands, she does bite very easy but not just my hands she does my legs, face and feet also. She's actually what I think you would call very needy, I have had her for about 3 mos it's one of the rescued kitties, I got them when they were about 7 or 8 weeks old, I also have mommy and 2 other sisters, she was very very shyi when I first got the 5 babies, it's not like she doesn't have anyone to play with, I Love this little girl dearly and may keep her. Can they just plain old be in Love with a Human that much? Sometimes I feel like I have to put her in the room with the gate just to be able to get anything done.
post #14 of 16
Miya does the same thing and just recently--over the past month, I have become aware that she is trying to tell me something.

If she bites my hand very gently, it means that she is very relaxed and secure.

A gentle to medium bite with a lick afterwards means that she is playing and she's pretty content with life.

A medium bite (with light indentations) with no lick means she's getting angry. Usually if we are playing a game and I won't let her win. (Sounds strange, I know.)

Miya has never bitten me hard.
post #15 of 16
My little black girlie doesn't bite hard but man she just won't leave me alone period, I don't know if anyone else that has had a cat that is so clingy you don't know what to do as I described in the post above.
post #16 of 16
Yep, mine's the same way. She will lick me to death and bite my hand (she has never bitten another part of my body). I think my cat has some "major attachment issues". I'm in the bedroom, she's in the bedroom. I go to the living room, she'll go in the living room. I'm in the bathroom...you get the idea.
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