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Is all hope lost?

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
I'm desperate...I have a 5 year old male (neutered) DSH. He's a great cat, and has truly become my son. However, he is just randomly mean, and I cannot figure out why or what to do about it. Here's an example. When I come home, I can hear him as I come upstairs meowing, because he know's momma's home. (I've asked the neighbors, but they say he doesn't cry all day, just when he hears my car pull up.) I come in, and say hi, and walk over to the loveseat to put down my purse, keys, mail, and other random fodder. I then usually reach down and scratch or pet him. Then, when I walk to the bedroom to change out of my work stuff, he proceeds to follow me the whole way, jumping up and biting the backs of my legs, sometimes so aggressively he will wrap his paws around me and hang on and just bite one spot really hard. Another example is I'll be sitting on the couch/bed/chair etc, not moving, and he'll launch himself at me and bite or scratch or both. Also when being pet, he'll turn around and bite my hand. I thought it was lonliness/boredom, so I started leaving either the TV or the radio on for him when I leave for work, and I play with him often. I've tried spraying him with water when he does this, or when I can tell he's about to, but to no avail, not to mention it makes me feel so mean. I've thought about getting him a brother or sister to keep him company, but I don't want to subject a poor kitten to abuse...any ideas?
post #2 of 11
It sounds like he might be trying to get your attention. Not sure how to fix it though.
post #3 of 11
Given the fact that it occurs when you come home (when he's greeting you) and when you're petting him, it sounds like petting and biting syndrome, which is one of the commonest forms of aggression in cats. Sometimes they get confused between the desire to be petted and their fear of you (as a larger predator). The article below discusses this (scroll down to the bit about agression and petting anxiety) and offers some advice on dealing with it.

post #4 of 11
I would say the petting and biting is him getting overstimulated. Look for signs of him starting to twitch his tail more, ears pointing backwards (airplane ears!), and pupils dialating. These signs let you know you need to back off on the petting.

As for the jumping on your legs when you walk, he may just be trying to play with you and doesn't have a sense of how hard to bite and that he should keep his claws sheathed. Every now and then one of my kitties will stalk me down the hallway and pounce as I walk by them, though they usually just pounce on a foot and scare themselves and run away!

When he goes after you and you're just sitting does he puff up, put his ears back and "crab hop" over to you? Or maybe crouch down, stare intently and wiggle his butt before running at you? If he does either of those things, i would think he's "play ambushing" you, but again, doesn't have a proper sense of how "hard" he can play.

You can try draging a feather toy after you when you walk to distract him or create some metal cans filled with coins that you can rattle at him when he comes at you. Hopefully they would distract him from attacking you. I would also keep playing with him, try to wear him out! He may just have lots of pent up energy.

I'm using compressed air as a training tool (the stuff you would clean a keyboard with). I like it because is "hisses" at them when you use it and you don't get water everywhere. I usually just aim a blast at their butt and either the sound or the sensation is enough to get them to stop the bad behaviour.

You will have to be consistent with redirecting his behaviour and not let him ever use any part of you as a toy.

post #5 of 11
Please don't spray water at your cat. You can cause them to be more aggressive by doing so and may get some in their ears which can cause an infection.

I also would not recommend using compressed air spray as you might spray him in the eyes by accident and cause damage.

When Bijou was a baby he would chase my legs and be too rough too. When he did that I would stop moving completely and firmly say NO. It took a bit of time but he got the message. The other thing you can do is HISS at him. That's what his mom would probably do to him.
post #6 of 11
Thread Starter 
Well, tried the feather behind me, and that worked for about a minute, but he must like the way my legs taste or something. I really do think he's trying to be playful, or even affectionate, but doesn't understand that teeth hurt! The coffee can with the coins in it seem to be working...the first time I used it he jumped about eight feet in the air and took off. And the hissing thing seemed to work too...maybe i'm speaking his language now.
post #7 of 11
Try ignoring him when you come home. Go immediately to his food dish and refresh his food so he'll connect your arrival with a positive experience and just walk away. Make him come to you for attention, don't immediately bend down and pet him hello, no physical contact until he's fully adjusted to your being home.
If he's lurching at you for no reason while you're watching tv or something, he's probably wanting you to play and not being very polite about it. Kittens do this to each other all the time while the other is at rest or unaware. Your kitty sounds a little high-strung/nervous and doesn't really know how to separate you from other cats. Interesting toys, catnip, and a scheduled 'play time' might help to relieve all that frustration he's built up over the course of the day. If you change your behavior towards him he will probably do the same.
I've never liked the idea of water, coins in cans, etc. when it comes to retraining them how to interact with us. Besides, when they do act up, it's almost always when the water bottle or can isn't handy!
post #8 of 11
My baby did that. It was his way of sort of fussing at me for being gone all day. I would turn animal planet on and the whole nine yards, and still when I would get home he would be happy, happy, happy and then bite me, lol. If the advice to HISS at him works then go with it, speak his language, but I don't think ANYTHING that is going to scare your baby will help him STOP being nervous, or aggressive. In fact, whenever my cat hears strange noises that is WHEN SHE IS ON HIGH ALERT. So be careful and if you just can't get the message accross to your little one try speaking with a behavior specialists. but I'm sure he just misses you lots and really wants your attentions and by the time he gets it he is so hyper he is in over play.
An just remember, biting to you isn't what biting means to him. They bite to play, warn, when frightened.
post #9 of 11
One of my cats plays rough too. He stalks and pounces and puts his claws and fangs to good use, person, cat or toy, he doesn't care who his prey is. I haven't figured out any way to discourage it other than saying no and ignoring him, and I try to make a point of having one really good play session per day and leaving safe toys out for him to play with. The real problem for us is when he attacks the other cat who is not at all playful, she hisses and makes all kinds of god awful noises, but he just seems to enjoy that In fact, he seems to be looking for a reaction, it's entertainment. I can usually see it coming, he'll walk around the house, kind of lethargically, bored, and looking for something to get into, then he spots Etain and he crouches down, wiggles his butt and pounces. I've thought about adding another playful cat to the household, so that he has someone who enjoys his attention, but that idea has been vetoed

The stern, "no" just doesn't cut it with Midir, so when he's naughty he goes into another room for time out until he calms down. It doesn't stop him from being naughty ... but now he's knows when he's being naughty. If he's doing something he's not supposed to (whether I know it or not) and I stand up, he stops what he's doing and walks into the other room and waits for me to close the door. But I think he'll always be like a two year old, testing his boundaries, getting away with as much as he possibly can. He's really cute, so I let him get away with murder

Btw, if you're not already, try trimming his nails, and/or using soft paws. It won't help with the teeth, but in my experience the claws are usually what do the damage.
post #10 of 11
Thread Starter 
What do you guys think of getting him a brother or sister? I was thinking of getting another adult cat, becuase i'm not sure how he'd take to a kitten, so that he has someone to play with and keep him company when i'm gone...my fear is though, that he'll be mean to the new kitty...anyone ever have experience with that?
post #11 of 11
I'm not an expert, but I've heard that an adult cat is more likely to accept a kitten than another adult cat. I know I had a really hard time introducing two adult cats, but a lot depends on personality too.
You wouldn't leave them alone together for quite a while, you'd need to keep the kitten in his own room with his own litter box and water dish any time you can't monitor them. When the kitten gets bigger and they're playing nice together, then you should be able to leave them together when you're away.
I think he might benefit from an equally playful companion. Sounds like he gets bored and needs a friend. There are tons of threads and articles on this subject, you'll want to do some reading on how to introduce cats before bringing one home.

Also, keep in mind that you will still need to address his undesirable behavior. Read the article that was posted by urbantigers, it's really good. I would start working towards more desirable behavior right away even if you decide to get another cat, it's still important to teach him not to play so rough, it's going to take a lot of work and some time, but you want don't want to just change his target from you to the new cat, you want to teach him how to play nice.
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