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Question about cat temperaments and biting cats


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What makes some cats more prone to bite and more temperamental in general?

 

I have two cats who are from a litter that I took in when a pregnant stray started coming around. These two are 5 yrs old now. They are the sweetest cats- it wouldn't occur to them to bite or scratch, even when dd is being like Olivia, and "moving" the cats over and over, or when the kids are carrying them around and you can tell they'd rather be put down. Their mother was the same way- she was so sweet and laidback. I have had these cats from the day they were born and they were with their mother until they were about 4 months old, when she went to a new home.

 

I have another cat dh found on the side of the road in the rain last year. He is now 1 yrs old. The vet estimated him at 6 weeks old when dh found him. He had a broken tail and a severe limp. He had fleas and was malnourished. So he had been outside for awhile. And it seems like he should have still been nursing, but his mother and litter mates were nowhere to be found. He was by the airport and there are some feral cat colonies that live out there, so he may have become separated from them.

 

He has been with us since then, so he's used to people. And he was a nice kitten. But he's so mean now and I don't know why. He has a big pouncing instinct, and if the kids just lay on their tummies reading, waving their feet around, he'll pounce and bite their feet. If the kids make him mad by bothering him too much, he'll launch himself at them and attack their ankles. I remove him right away with a firm "NO" and he's then placed in a room alone for awhile. But he's not cuddly, won't sit with anyone, and is usually cranky.

 

What makes some cats like this? We've "raised" him and the other cats the same way. Could it be that he wasn't socialized properly by his mother before we found him? Or could it be that he was neutered too early? Thinking back, I think he was younger than the other cats.

 

They are all indoor cats and none are declawed.

 

Any insights? Any way I can get him to stop biting?

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Just like people, cats have different temperments. It has nothing to do with how he was raised. He wants to hunt. Can you make him an indoor/outdoor cat? The pouncing and biting are just his way of practicing his natural hunting instincts. It doesn't make him mean, he's just being.....a cat.

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Cats are strange. I think they get a new personality with each of their lives. I have two cats that go through spells where you never see them at all and then they want to be in your lap all the time. They are just moody and temperamental.

 

When you say bite, do you mean a hard bite or just a little nipping. I had one cat that would nip you just a little if he wanted attention and you weren't giving it to him. I have another who like to nibble on toes. A bite that breaks the skin can be dangerous but just a light little nip not so much.

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He has been with us since then, so he's used to people. And he was a nice kitten. But he's so mean now and I don't know why. He has a big pouncing instinct, and if the kids just lay on their tummies reading, waving their feet around, he'll pounce and bite their feet. If the kids make him mad by bothering him too much, he'll launch himself at them and attack their ankles. I remove him right away with a firm "NO" and he's then placed in a room alone for awhile. But he's not cuddly, won't sit with anyone, and is usually cranky.

?

 

I have a big male cat who I found as a one week old kitten in my back yard. We're pretty sure he's from a feral momma in our neighborhood. He was sweet as a tiny baby but around 10 weeks when those hunting instincts took over he's been a feisty one.

 

The only person he doesn't mess with is my husband who would thump him on the nose when he'd bite. I think he missed out on having a momma teach him manners.

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Just like people, cats have different temperments. It has nothing to do with how he was raised. He wants to hunt. Can you make him an indoor/outdoor cat? The pouncing and biting are just his way of practicing his natural hunting instincts. It doesn't make him mean, he's just being.....a cat.

 

I know it sounds like I'm anthropomorphizing and he is indeed just being a cat. But I can't help but say he's mean when he's biting the heck out of my kids. I know he really is practicing his cat instincts but the way he does it is a problem. I separate him from us so he can calm down with no one else getting hurt, and don't know what else to do about it, or if anything even can be done.

 

I guess I'm nervous about letting him outdoors- that he will be injured or lost. The kids in my neighborhood aren't nice to the wandering cats around here, and we live in a busy area. And he's become my 9 yr old's cat (he hardly ever bites him and seems to favor him), and my son would be devastated if anything happened to his kitty.

 

Cats are strange. I think they get a new personality with each of their lives. I have two cats that go through spells where you never see them at all and then they want to be in your lap all the time. They are just moody and temperamental.

 

When you say bite, do you mean a hard bite or just a little nipping. I had one cat that would nip you just a little if he wanted attention and you weren't giving it to him. I have another who like to nibble on toes. A bite that breaks the skin can be dangerous but just a light little nip not so much.

 

Hard bites that leave scratches or marks from his teeth. He often breaks the skin and there's a little bleeding.

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Having claws or not having claws has nothing to do with it. I think it is the fact that the cat was alone at a very young age. I have had four cats as an adult. Only my current one was a foundling (at 11 weeks). He is now 9 years old. He is the only one who acts (or acted) the way yours does except he is affectionate with me and with my husband. In the last few years, as my dds have gotten older, he has become affectionate with them too. But he is a hunter and much more so than any of my other cats. He does things like grab toes or fingers and about a year and a half ago, he bit my daughter when she tried to slide a paper from underneath him while he was sleeping. He jumped up and bit. That was uncharacteristic but he was sleeping. But aloofness from children and generally more aggressive behavior, yes, that is what I have seen with cats who were removed from mothers too early.

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Our male is just a big baby. He even plays fetch LOL. But he was hand raised from little bitty. The cat we rescued from the park though is the snippy one. She only weighed 1 pound and had some abuse. Her play has always been rougher and I think it was from having to defend herself at a young age.

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The only person he doesn't mess with is my husband who would thump him on the nose when he'd bite. I think he missed out on having a momma teach him manners.

 

That's what I've wondered, if it mostly comes from not being socialized properly as a baby.

 

Having claws or not having claws has nothing to do with it. I think it is the fact that the cat was alone at a very young age.

 

But aloofness from children and generally more aggressive behavior, yes, that is what I have seen with cats who were removed from mothers too early.

 

I thought I'd read before that declawed cats tend to be more aggressive.

 

Leaving his litter too young does seem like the most logical reason.

 

Our male is just a big baby. He even plays fetch LOL. But he was hand raised from little bitty. The cat we rescued from the park though is the snippy one. She only weighed 1 pound and had some abuse. Her play has always been rougher and I think it was from having to defend herself at a young age.

 

That could be too. This cat we have went through a lot before we found him, and he was just itty bitty. I often wonder what he was doing or what he was subjected to, since he had a broken tail and injured leg. :(

 

There are fun things about this cat- he is really playful and curious. I just wish he didn't bite.

 

Here he was the day we found him:

 

http://independenceacademy.blogspot.com/2009/09/kitten-school.html

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NO, declawing doesn't make them more aggressive. I have only had declawed cats, including ones I declawed when they were adults. They weren't aggressive. Only my foundling is somewhat aggressive. By that, I mean, I don't let others pick him up or bother him. I could have let others pick up all my other cats.

 

I just looked it up to refresh my memory, and there is a belief that some declawed cats bite more and display other aggressive behaviors more than cats who are not declawed. I understand that that hasn't been your experience with your own cats, but that's why I had mentioned the fact that my cats are declawed in my op- in case anyone mentioned that as a possible cause, I was ruling it out.

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A couple of things to try. Keep a squirt bottle around, and when he bites, spray him. Don't isolate him, just spray him every time he goes after their ankles. Eventually, he should get the point. Also, keep some cat toys around, and toss those for him to go after if he starts pouncing on the kids. It may take some time, but this would have more effect than putting him by himself, which wouldn't give him the right message.

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But they were at different ages. The first two are brother and sister and we adopted them when they were still nursing. Actually we adopted mom and litter of 6. We kept these two and found nice homes for the others. These two are pretty tame and tend to just lay around and wait for us to wait on them. They do have their favorite family member and will come around you when "they" want attention. The third one we took in about year ago. He had been hanging around the house and was so friendly, always rubbing around our feet and getting on our laps. One day we come home and he had been hit by a car. It was never our intention to have another cat. We took him to vet and was told he broke his paw. That meant a cast. So we found ourselves with another indoor cat. His demeanor is usually nice but he often chases the other two cats around. He will occasionally bite them and there will be hissing but they usually take care of themselves. We do sometimes have to rescue the female because they both tend to go after her and she doesn't usually defend herself. The bigger problem we have with our new cat is he still has the hungry hunter mode. We can't leave any kind of bread, meat etc out because he will immediately get into it. I have had to buy a trash can with a locking lid because he would get into it during the night and we'd wake up with a mess. We have another trash can in our living area but only paper items can go in there. If there's ever had food on it and we put it in that can it will be torn up and everything strewn out when we wake up. I understood this behavior when we first got him. Vet told us he was probably about 6 months old. I had hoped this would lessen as he got older and realized that he would get fed regularly, in fact we probably already over feed him. At least he doesn't guzzle his food down and then push the others away from their food. I really think his behavior is because he had to fend for himself. We do think he had a home at one time because he's generally very gently and loves to be petted and has since we found him. I'm a strong believer that a cat's behavior is mostly determined by the way he was raised as a baby. I would strongly consider that that's your case but there might also be the possibility that he is partly a feral cat which would make his hunting instinct even stronger, at least that what I read.

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Our boy was a stray who landed in our yard at about 10 months old. He is very loving and tolerant, laying on his back in our arms and just mewing to show his displeasure. But when he is playful he still likes to chase feet and claw and bite us, it's never really bothered us much as it seems pretty much like playing and he is never malicious with it. Like sometimes I tickle his tummy and he will grab me with his claws and have a munch on my hand. We just find something useful for him to do with his energy, like chase a feather on string or something. It seems to be decreasing in frequency as he gets older.

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I have a cat we call evil and we found her in a ditch nearly dead from startvation. Her litter mates were dead. I doubt if she was even a month old. Her only saving grace is that she doesn't attack unless someone messes with her. She ignores the kids and visitors and I tell anyone who visits that she is not a petting type cat. If anyone other than myself of my daughter touch her she will bite or scratch them. Hard.

I do think it is because she was wild, and not with her Mama as a baby.

 

But I know she loves us because she brings me her kills. :confused: I don't want them, but she doesn't get the message.

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She is just playing too rough. It hurts, but she is not trying to hurt. It could be normal temperment stuff or it could be that she didn't stay with mom long enough to learn how to control her play behavior. Oh, and how social a cat is is genetically passed on from the father only.

Anyway, more playtime with toys that are NOT fingers/toes will help alot. This is from the HSUS website:

 

Play aggression

To a cat, play is all about prey. Body postures of play aggression are the behaviors a cat shows when searching for and catching prey. She stalks her target from behind a door or under a chair. She crouches, twitches her tail, flicks her ears back and forth, then pounces, wrapping her front feet around the prey, chewing it and kicking it with her back feet.

 

We enjoy watching these cat antics, but kittens don't know when to stop. Their rough play can result in scratches and little bites that don't break the skin. You must teach your cat when enough is enough; otherwise, as she gets older, the scratches may get deeper and the bites harder.

 

Solution:

 

Use a fishing pole type of toy to keep her away from your body when playing with her.

If she starts chewing or scratching any part of your body, immediately say "uh-uh," and redirect her to a toy. If she continues to chew or scratch after you say, "uh-uh," stop playing immediately. Never hit her or yell, or she'll become afraid of you.

Don’t resume playing until she has calmed down; then use the toy.

Some cats are easily overstimulated, and their play can escalate into true aggression. Pay close attention to your cat's body language; if she's getting too intense, stop playing immediately and give her time to cool off.

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I don't know what to say, other that some cats are just like that. Long before my son was born, the dh and I had a cat who was so incredibly sweet and loving to my dh. But every once in a while he would get this *look* in his eyes...and without provocation would attack either one of us very viciously. It was like a switch flipped in his brain or something. To this day, I just don't understand what was going on with him. He was an indoor/outdoor cat and disappeared one day. It broke my heart and of course we posted Missing flyers in the neighborhood and put a Lost ad in the paper. But on the other hand, it was kind of a relief.

 

Anyway, right now I have a 21yo cat with some cognitive dysfunction. It includes a fair amount of anxiety for him, getting lost in the house and whatnot. He forgets where the litterbox is sometimes and howls when he gets lost in the house and expresses his anxiety by pulling clumps of hair out. I know, a lot of people might euthanize...but he still gets a lot of pleasure sitting out in the sun on a nice day, and he's gotten so much more affectionate. It seems like despite everything else he likes his life. Anyway, the vet recommended Feliway to help with the anxiety. It comes as either a spray or a plug in diffuser. It contains feline pheremones that are supposed to relieve anxiety and promote a more...peaceful feeling. To us, it's odorless. I wonder if your cat might benefit from something like that. We have a diffuser in our big family room. There's a bathroom off the room that contains a litterbox, and there's also (unfortunately) a litterbox in the family room itself, tucked in a discreet corner where the kitty was peeing a lot. There has been a marked decrease in accidents.

 

I'm kind of thinking of getting another diffuser for the other side of the house which has a long hallway and all the bedrooms. The kitty tends to get lost on that side of the house and howl until we rescue him.

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