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Cat bites or claws legs when not happy about something

Discussion in 'Cat Training and Behaviour' started by anfi_the_cat, Aug 6, 2018.


  1. anfi_the_cat

    anfi_the_cat PetForums Newbie

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    I really hope someone could help me as I'm new both to this forum and being a cat owner. We've recently adopted a year and a half old female cat from cat rescue and in all respects it's a very loving and friendly cat. But when something goes not as she would like (e.g. I leave kitchen without feeding her even though she had enough food already, or I move away from patio doors without opening them to let her out, or I've picked her up and then gently put her down) she turns and bites or claws my legs sometimes gently, sometimes not so much. She recently bit my husband just because he gently without touching her wanted to move her out of the way when she wanted to escape to the garden. Any advice or help how to correct this behaviour would be much appreciated. Thank you!
     
  2. chillminx

    chillminx PetForums VIP

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    Hi @anfi_the_cat and welcome :)

    Cats often want things on their own terms, and expect their human companions to 'fall in line', which is why on the forum we often jokingly refer to ourselves as "slaves" to our cats i.e. we are there to do their bidding, :D

    Joking aside, it is true that many cats do not like being told what to do. They are very independent minded creatures. The secret is to persuade them in such a way that they think it is their choice to do what you want them to. Be prepared for this to involve bribery e.g. treats, or a distracting interactive game with a wand toy. Distraction and Redirection (to something OK) is the best way to stop a cat from doing something you don't want them to do.

    It will also involve getting the cat used to set routines, so that she comes to know and expect certain things happen at certain times of day, i.e. she learns what your rules are. This means being consistent e.g. with coming-in times, meal times, bedtimes etc. Cats are great at learning routines and they thrive on them, it makes them feel secure. Your cat is still only a youngster and highly capable of learning and adapting.

    Your cat needs to gradually learn the boundaries you set for her, but it needs to be through persuasion, rather than confrontation. I am sorry she bit your husband, that is certainly not something one would ever want to happen. It is possible your cat interpreted your husband's attempt to stop her going out as aggressive or confrontational (not that I am saying he was being aggressive or confrontational, but we are talking about the cat's perspective here, rather than human perspective).

    Being a rescued cat you probably know little about her history and it may be that in her previous home the owner used to gesticulate at her in annoyance which frightened her and gave her negative associations with that behaviour from a human. I would try and find a safe method (safe for you I mean) of distracting her from doing something you don't want her to do, and include redirecting her attention to something she likes such as treats or a game.

    Interactive play is very bonding between cat and their humans, and it will build up the cat's trust in you. A couple of hours a day in several sessions at her age. Do you have wands and fishing rod toys? And ping pong balls for you to throw for her? Once she trusts you I am sure she will be less likely to turn on you if she is frustrated, and more likely to be satisfied with a hiss or a brief sulk if she can't get her own way. If she does get annoyed always leave her alone to get over it. Trying to console her with strokes or attention may make her more cross, if she is annoyed.

    With regard to meal times you could train her to recognise the sound of a specific alarm bell for when her food is served. One of our members has done this with her cats, using Amazon 'Echo' (or similar.) Her cats no longer pester her for food every time she goes to the kitchen, but come running whenever they hear the food bell. Brilliant! :)

    Do bear in mind your cat is still growing and will be until she is at least 2 yrs old, so needs good quality food with plenty of meat protein to build strong muscles, and fats to give her energy. A hungry cat is an edgy, irritable cat, and it might be she was genuinely hungry when she scratched your leg in the kitchen. At her age I'd expect her to be eating from 250 grams to 400 grams of wet food a day, depending on her build, metabolism and level of activity. That's about 3 or 4 pouches of wet food. (maybe less if you are feeding some dry too). I did not ration any of my cats with their wet food until they were fully grown cats.
     
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  3. anfi_the_cat

    anfi_the_cat PetForums Newbie

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    Hi @chillminx ! Thank you for your advice - it's really appreciated! :)

    I'm afraid there indeed may be a problem with the set routine which is completely my fault - I do not have set times for feeding her! I'm just portioning 50g dry food and 1/4 can of wet food for a day as was suggested by the vet to bring Anfi's weight down from 4kg to 3.5kg (she's a big kitten) So there's definitely a room for improvement!

    We're away most of the day, but always play with her in the evenings with a wand toy or her favourite fluffy mouse. She seems quite happy cat following me around the house and purring loudly :Shamefullyembarrased
    I will try the persuasion and distraction method as you've described. Otherwise I feel I will indeed become her slave as I'm afraid to walk past her if I know she's unhappy about something and most of the time I give in to her demands. Hope we'll gradually learn to adapt to each other. :Cat
     
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  4. chillminx

    chillminx PetForums VIP

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    Is she overweight do you think? If she is large build but not overweight I wouldn't worry about her weight. 4 kg does not sound too much for an 18 month old cat, if they are quite chunky in their bone structure. Weight alone is not a good indicator as to whether a cat is overweight. Body scoring is a better tool.

    Here is a body scoring article with a chart available to give you an idea of what shape a cat should be, when they are a good healthy weight:

    https://www.purina.co.uk/cats/healt...anagement/assessing-your-cat's-body-condition


    If you do diet her, the weight must be lost very, very slowly, no more than an ounce a week. For a cat to lose weight faster than that is a risk for a nasty disease called liver lipidosis. And
    a cat will find it hard to cope mentally if her meals are suddenly reduced by more than that, and it will make her irritable.

    The best way to get some weight off her (if you really need to) is to reduce the amount of her dry food and increase the amount of her wet food. Dry food is high in carbohydrates and is very fattening. All dry food is much higher in carbs than wet food. Switch her over to mostly wet food and she will lose weight naturally.

    A quarter of a can of wet food a day is really not enough for her. I would feed her at least 200 grams of wet food a day, divided into 3 or 4 meals. Use a battery operated autofeeder for when you are out. This one is good, I have had mine for 25 yrs and it's still going strong. :)

    https://www.amazon.co.uk/Cat-Mate-C...-1&keywords=cat+mate+c20+automatic+pet+feeder

    If you want to feed her a bit of dry food, I'd go for a make that is as low in carbs as possible e.g. Thrive Premium Plus :

    https://www.amazon.co.uk/Thrive-Pre...&sr=8-1&keywords=thrive+premium+plus+cat+food

    But honestly, I would try and get her off all dry food gradually. Wet is so much healthier for them.

    Which wet foods are you feeding her btw? As you mentioned 'canned food' I wonder if you are feeding some of the good makes from Zooplus. :)
     
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  5. anfi_the_cat

    anfi_the_cat PetForums Newbie

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    Thank you for the link @chillminx ! Will do the proper scoring today when I get back from work. Yesterday I just quickly run through her ribs and had to apply a bit of pressure to feel ribs behind her fur and fat - I haven't touched the ribs of other cats so can't judge whether that's a norm. Maybe our vet felt something that suggested that she may be slightly overweight. At the pet rescue they told us that she may be a raggamuffin - from what I've read they are naturally bigger than the other breeds.

    I'm feeding her Smilla Dry Cat Food for Sterilised cats which she loves and - you've guessed - Smilla, Bozita and Animonda Carny cans from Zooplus :) as they were recommended on this forum. Although I think she really prefers Felix and Whiskas :Facepalm (had to buy them once while waiting for Zooplus delivery) - maybe they were fed to her by previous owners.

    I did hear about some nasty things dry food can do to cat's health - therefore I thought that the 50/50 split of calories from dry/wet would work for us, but maybe will have to gradually switch to more wet food! :Cat

    P.S. This week she was behaving really nice - no biting at all (touch the wood)
     
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