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Nasty kitten

Discussion in 'Cat Training and Behaviour' started by slavetorobbie, May 10, 2010.


  1. slavetorobbie

    slavetorobbie PetForums Member

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    Okay I have been trying to avoid asking for advice on this as have wanted to try everything but am at the end of my tether and really need help!!
    I have had Robbie for 3 1/2 weeks now and am having real trouble with his 'playing'. He is so so violent, I am covered in scratches and he is constantly biting me. I never play with him with my hands and nobody else does either, and I have had cats all my life so not overreacting... He just pounces for no reason, on my arms, legs, hands and now face!! His ears go back, eyes go wide and his tail swishes - sometimes he puffs his whole body up like he's afraid. Obviously as he's getting bigger it's started to be really painful and I am just dreading him continuing when he's fully grown.
    I play with him a lot, he has lots of toys, a scratching post and a tree, he loves chasing balls and we spend ages doing this every day, but it's like he just goes into attack mode!! And then when he's tired, or if I have been out, he's as sweet as anything, purring and wanting a cuddle :-(
    I'm finding it so hard. Tried removing him, removing myself, drawing his attention to another toy, saying 'NO!' firmly and even tapping him on the nose but nothing's worked, he just gets angrier and comes back harder. I thought he'd have got bored of it now he knows it doesn't make me play but he obviously hasn't and is causing me countless injuries. I have a job interview this week and look like I have been cutting myself it's that bad!!

    So if anyone has some advice then please please help me out here, I have googled all sorts but just not finding any useful advice..
     
  2. Shimacat

    Shimacat PetForums Member

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    Sorry to hear you're having problems. What's Robbie's background? How old is he at the moment? Was he a rescue cat?

    I'm thinking that if you adopted him young, it could be he was taken away from littermates too early - it sounds as if he has been rather poorly socialised, as he hasn't learned how hard he should play. Our youngest cat (adopted at 6 months) was very prone to biting when we got him, but I started showing no reaction when he bit, I let my hand go totally limp and made no noise. Then I withdraw my hand slowly and walked away from him, ignoring him and not making eye contact - basically denying him any reaction to his biting, other than the withdrawing of all attention. He is learning not to bite now, and is learning he has to be gentle. Maybe that might work - if you make a noise when Robbie attacks you, he'll see that as excitement, and maybe a signal to continue attacking.

    I found this site to be a huge help: NERVOUS AND AGGRESSIVE CATS
    There's loads of useful articles on there; very well-written.

    Best of luck to you and Robbie!
     
  3. billyboysmammy

    billyboysmammy PetForums VIP

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    OK

    First you need to remember your kitten isnt bad. He is just uneducated.


    If i remember rightly you got your little kitten too early from his mum and littermates. Orphaned kittens, single kittens, and kittens removed too early from their family can have some very important social lessons missing.

    This is one of the few times you will hear me reccomending using aversive (negative)methods to train, but in these cases YOU must become mum, brother and sister all in one.

    In a normal litter the kittens bite, fight, scratch, yell, scuffle all together. IF one bites too hard, then they get a sharp bite/scratch back. The repercussions are instant and so eventually they learn how hard they are able to bite/scratch without the game stopping. Mum and siblings will teach each other the acceptable limits, your kitten missed out on this important socialisation. In essence your kitten is lacking the important skill of bite inhibition, and the ability to recognise when the game is finished.


    What i would do is this:

    1 - the minute teeth come out... HISS! Loudly in his face OR keep a water pistol handy and squirt him instantly.

    2 - YOU end the games... not when he has had enough and wandered off... you need to be setting the limits. When you have decided enough is enough, then stop playing... do not respond to him at all, unless he acts agressively... in which case repeat the hiss or squirt.

    3 - when the game has been finished for a few mins and he wants to come and sit quietly with you.. let him sit for a couple of minutes before responding. Respond with nice gentle strokes and cuddles... nothing fast or quick. When you watch two cats cuddle up together... they usually sit side by side ignoring each other for a while until one starts to groom the other.

    4 - If he tries to suckle (from t-shirts etc), get up and move away... this is what mum would do.

    He isnt a bad kitten hun, just uneducated and he needs to learn all the lessons he should have learned with his mum and littermates in order to be a happy member of the household.

    My reccomendations wont make him a perfect cat, you will still get scratches out of accident etc, but it should help him learn what the boundaries are. He is still allowed to play and pounce etc - yes on you too... but he isnt allowed to hurt, there is a big difference. The nice thing about using a water pistol is that so long as you are quick and crafty he wont see it coming from you.

    If he is of a very nervous disposition then stick to the water pistol only... direct hissing may "turn him off you".

    I hope that helps, and as always this is just my opinion.

    xxx
     
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  4. slavetorobbie

    slavetorobbie PetForums Member

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    I had already tried the hissing but it just antagonises him and makes him come back harder.

    I got a water pistol and have tried it but he is just too clever, he knows where it's coming from so stops as soon as I move to get it, hisses at it then comes back a couple of mins later. He just bit my face and drew blood but now wants a cuddle! It's driving me crazy, and I know that me being stressed is not making him calm down!

    I also use feliway, don't know if it makes any difference though.
     
  5. The Twins

    The Twins PetForums Senior

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    It must be really disheartening and frustrating but really the only thing here is perserverance - he will get the mesage eventually but it sounds as if it will take time... do you have other cats for him to socialise with? If not, a playmate might be a good option - if you can stretch to two kitties...

    Also, i would recommend trying bach flower rememdy - either rescue rememdy or one specifically for agression, they sell them in my local health food store so you could google it or pop into a health food store and ask about it...??
     
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  6. dharma66

    dharma66 PetForums Senior

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    Billyboysmammy has really said as much as can be said without getting more close involvement from a cat behaviourist...so that might be your next step if perseverance doesn't help.

    Have you had him checked over by the vet? Sometimes persistent pain can cause aggression. If there's nothing to suggest that's the case, maybe ask for a referral to a qualified behaviourist.
     
  7. slavetorobbie

    slavetorobbie PetForums Member

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    Thanks for your responses..

    I wish I could get him a playmate but I just don't think there is enough space in my flat for two. I am planning on moving in a few months to somewhere with a small garden and was considering a second cat then.

    He has seen the vet although it was 2 weeks ago and the vet said 'Oh he's just testing you, he'll soon stop'.. he is going for his vaccinations at the weekend so I will speak to the vet again I guess. I don't think he's in any pain or anything as when he's sleepy he loves having a cuddle and doesn't react badly to anywhere I touch.

    It is really disheartening, I just know he is going to end up resenting me because I am constantly telling him no and putting him down/out, and he obviously doesn't know what he is doing wrong!

    It's driving me crazy to be honest.
     
  8. billyboysmammy

    billyboysmammy PetForums VIP

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    he is definatly testing you isnt he! Little ratbag!

    Sonuds to me that the water pistol is working, he knows enough to stop.. he just doesnt know enough to stay "stopped". Youve really got to be consistent and repetitive with this. Kittens should be playing with mum and siblings during their most important socialisation weeks (5-10 weeks ish). As he missed a large amount of that you going to have to step in and help him catch up. It will take longer because he missed so much.

    Try not to get so disheartened and just keep going.

    If you think his problems are much more serious then i echo the advice about getting a behaviourist. My personal opinion though is that he needs your guidance and socialisation for a good while yet, and a behaviourist for such a young kitten that you have had for such a short time would be at the moment a waste of time and money.

    Good luck whatever you do.
     
  9. slavetorobbie

    slavetorobbie PetForums Member

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    Thank you billyboysmummy, your advice has been great now and before.

    I don't think I need to consider a behaviourist yet - as you said it's not his fault and with any luck he will realise it's wrong. He's been a little sweetie all afternoon, just sitting next to me grooming and watching me on the computer. He's enjoyed some stroking but when he has enough he has bitten gently and I have stopped, which hasn't led to him pouncing and latching on as it usually does. So perhaps he is learning!

    I feel bad that I took him now to be honest, I should have questioned his mum's owner further and found out how old he was as I am a firm believer that kittens should stay in their litter for much longer than 6 weeks. I really regret it and I am worried that he's never going to be settled and completely happy because of it.
     
  10. Tje

    Tje Banned

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    The only other thing I can think of…. (and it is a very long shot… )

    Do you know anybody (friend, family, neighbour, work colleague) with a well socialized, confident older cat … someone who would be prepared to visit you with their cat in tow (or you could go to their home with your kitten). Or maybe there is a local shelter you could explain your situation to and maybe (???) they could allow you to temporarily borrow a stable, social cat to help coach your wee one. Not all cats are cut out for this mentor/coach role… but the ones that are, are worth their weight in gold when it comes to whipping delinquent kittens into shape. It would be hard to say how much time your kitten would have to spend with the other cat to learn what’s appropriate biting and scratching, it depends on so many individual factors & circumstances. The last country we lived in, there was another foster woman with orphan kittens and she borrowed my female cat on a few occasions to "coach" her kittens… with one lot of kittens one afternoon with my cat was enough, problem over. The next lot of kittens she was having biting/scratching trouble with were harder ... I took my cat to her for an afternoon and it helped, until we left. Then they went back to biting/scratching her. Next time I left my cat there for best part of a day… a few days later the biting/scratching returned. Eventually her kittens came to me for about 2-3 days. And a few swipes and lot of warning growls and warning stares from my own two and they were finally “cured”. However these cats were probably a lot younger than yours is now (these were about 6, 7 or 8 wks old), so maybe your kitten would need quite a lot of time spent with another cat to get the social niceties down to pat. But 2 days with the right cat would work wonders, I am sure of it. Maybe a few hours would too… I just don’t know.

    These type of kittens learn so much better from other cats than they do from us. By getting bitten back for inappropriate biting, they really do learn. I foster a lot of orphaned kittens and I always say feeding and toileting them every 2 hours is very easy compared to teaching them manners when they’re older. Without my own two cats to “slap” these stray youngsters into shape …. I really don’t know what I would do. Teaching them manners (and keeping young 'not-yet-toilet trained kittens' clean) are the two toughest jobs if you ask me. Bottle feeding/force feeding/toilet/litter training is a doddle in comparison.

    I can only say you have my sympathies… and best of luck.
     
  11. slavetorobbie

    slavetorobbie PetForums Member

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    I have thought about this and my mum has 3 female cats who I grew up with but they're all very old and although one is still quite maternal towards the others, I think the kitten would just wind her up and he might get hurt which obviously would be awful. They sleep for pretty much the whole day and he's constantly running around, so I think they are sadly a bit too old for it, and I don't know anybody else with cats! He is only around 9 weeks old so he probably would respond well to this kind of training to be honest :-(
     
  12. Tje

    Tje Banned

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    How old are you mum’s cats? (plus, he will be calmer around calmer older cats... they would hopefully force him to be)

    My own “mentor” cat is no spring chicken (well, she’s 9 and quite cranky – and the other one is 2½ but she is more into avoidance or just playing with the kittens) and I wouldn’t call the 9yr old maternal… she also isn’t at all lovely-dovey or kind and caring towards my orphan fosters, she is more like “look here you little noisy cheeky obnoxious interloper kitten – this is MY house and my rules – I will ignore you and allow you to do what you want – within reason. But if you bite me or our other cat, or bite or scratch my boss woman or boss man or any visitors that come through that front door – I WILL knock you into next week”. And if and when the kittens do get too aggressive… then she does give them an almighty swipe. She has never actually hurt one (well did any damage) but she does get very very bossy towards the stroppy kittens and I swear some of them must see stars after she swipes them. BUT… they (the kittens) react well to it, they’ll try to get back into her good books by being docile and cute and they do learn their lesson and quit biting/scratching. I have two very young fosters here right now, one bit me quite hard earlier this morning when my own cat was upstairs fast asleep, I let out an OUCH … in 4 seconds flat she was downstairs and stood over the tiny wee thing in a very threatening manner, as if to say “you do that to my boss lady again kitty and I will have your guts for garters” and the wee kitten slunk back into it’s pen and has been very docile for the rest of the morning. I only have to raise my voice slightly at a kitten, or even sound vaguely exasperated, and she comes running in like a bouncer in a dodgy night club just itching for a fight, lol. But it works. And that’s the main thing.

    I wish I could help you by lending you my cat (or having yours over here for day or two) … but I don’t even live in the same country as you. :eek:

    I hope you can find a solution. In the mean time, all the best.
     
  13. billyboysmammy

    billyboysmammy PetForums VIP

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    I have a very cranky girl here who is well adept at putting young kittens into their place lol! I have to introduce older cats and kittens VERY slowly but youngsters she will accept - providing they behave! IF they dont they will be MADE to behave! She rules the roost lol!

    Shall i package her up and post her by parcelforce24? ;)
     
  14. slavetorobbie

    slavetorobbie PetForums Member

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    Haha yes please!!

    My mum's cats are 17 and 15! It's a shame because if they were younger I think it'd be a good idea. Also, my mum's cats have a big house and garden and my flat would not be a great environment for them unfortunately.

    Not sure if the water pistol is working, he seems to know he's gonna get wet when he scratches and I'm persisting but it is making him very wary of me which is horrible - he doesn't want to cuddle as much as usual. I'm hoping he'll realise that as long as he's nice, the gun doesn't come out! Or I might have to invest in a pressure washer... :rolleyes:
     
  15. billyboysmammy

    billyboysmammy PetForums VIP

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    where abouts in the country are you robbie?

    Just thinking there might be a rescue nearby who would willingly lend you a foster cat for a few weeks to help your kitten settle, or perhaps one of us is near to you and can help x
     
  16. slavetorobbie

    slavetorobbie PetForums Member

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    I'm in Romford in Essex. I'm not sure of any rescue centres nearby, but it may be something to look into actually.
     
  17. billyboysmammy

    billyboysmammy PetForums VIP

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    just done a bit of ringing around for you... and have one possible soloution...


    Wanderers haven in cranham might be able to help you and him out. They have a couple of litters with mums of similar ages. They could try to introduce him to the current litter and so give him a couple of weeks of socialisation.

    She also has a litter of handreared kittens she could integrate him with (7weeks old) which would give him the valuable socialisation.

    If you want to call her, her number is 01708220168, ask for Frankie and say that sally in swindon passed on your number.


    Alternatively i am awaiting a call from another rescue who might (big might) have an ideal home from home foster girl for you that would teach your cat some manners.

    _____


    You need to be aware with both options that there are obviously some associated risks, which you need to weigh up. With integrating a kitten you run a risk of infection, and with bringing a cat in you have infection and injury to add. Both are minimal but still should be weighed up.

    If there is anything else i can do just give me a shout.
     
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  18. Tje

    Tje Banned

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    Slavetorobbie... I can only say if I was in your situtation I would grab these possible solutions and run with them. It doesn't have to be an adult "mentor" cat, being put with the other motherless hand-reared kittens will work wonders... if he bites, they bite back, that way he gets to know (usually very quickly) to "tone down the volume" of his biting to an acceptable level.

    You'll be amazed what a couple of days with a surrogate mum/surrogate sibling will do for his behavior.

    I really hope one of BBM's possible solutions work for you... keeping everything crossed for you and Robbie-cat.
     
  19. Elmstar

    Elmstar PetForums VIP

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    Hi, we're actually very close to you, Elm Park. If you send me a PM perhaps we could work something out.
     
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  20. Tje

    Tje Banned

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    some days this forum gets on my nerves...

    and some days, like today, I love it. :)

    hats off to BBM and Elmstar for their offers of help. :thumbup:
     
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