My wife and I have 3 cats and of course all of them are quite different. We are always seeking out information relating to their behaviors. Fiona our 12 yr old that we got at the Humane Society would and still does seem to want to bite us. She doesnt really bite, she just wants to open her mouth and gently place her teeth around our hand. We eventually learned that this was an affectionate action and not an aggression towards humans.
Behavioral problems in cats, such as avoiding the litterbox, excessive meowing and other attention-seeking behavior, biting and painful or destructive scratching can be corrected by first eliminating physical causes, then instituting a program of gradual retraining, with the help of these resources. Remember that there are no bad cats, only uninformed cat caregivers.
I would suggest trying to deal with one problem cat behavior at a time. Too many “dos” and “don’ts” will only confuse your cat and frustrate your training attempts. Start with the most potentially hazardous problems first – such as chewing on electrical cords – then move on from there. Here are the top 5 most-often reported behavioral problems in cats:
#1 Attention-Seeking Behavior
Attention-seeking behavior and excessive vocalization often go hand-in-hand with cats.
Causes for these behaviors can be either physical or emotional, or both. Before punishing your cat for excessive crying and meowing, or other attention seeking behavior.
One of the most common complaints about cat behavior is their excessive vocalization: loud meowing or crying, sometimes accompanied by other attention-seeking behavior. Because causes for both of these behaviors can be either physical or emotional, or both, you need to do some homework on possible causes before punishing your cat for excessive crying and meowing, or other attention seeking behavior.
Sometimes what may seem to be a “behavior problem” may be completely normal behavior in a given cat. Weigh all the factors before deciding that your cat has a problem that needs correcting. Readers may be surprised at some of the activities that are related to or mistaken for attention-seeking behavior:
#2 Cats’ Aggression Toward People
Cats’ aggression toward people can be caused by poor training as a kitten (as in play aggression), fear, or other factors. Learn how to prevent a cat’s aggression toward people, how to deal with it when it happens, and how to curb a cat’s biting and scratching behavior.
It’s always sad to hear of a cat being tossed out because of uncontrollable biting and/or scratching behavior. While this aggressive kind of behavior is painful and frustrating to deal with, try to remember that cats never do anything without a reason. They are actually very predictable creatures, and biting and scratching are cause and effect behaviors just as most undesirable behaviors.
There are two basic kinds of biting and scratching behaviors in cats, and both of them are often originally caused by our own human failings. I’ll explain more about this later. But for now, remember that biting and scratching are perfectly normal behaviors.
Playful Biting and Scratching
Kittens learn biting and scratching as an important part of their development.
After all, these activities are cats’ only means of defense, as well as their natural way of killing prey in the wild. Cats’ main form of play involves biting and scratching in “winner takes all” battles, whether with another cat, a toy mouse, or a hapless human who finds himself in the wrong place at the wrong time.
One of the first rules for human companions is “do not teach your cat that hands are toys.” If you ignore this advice, those tiny claws and teeth will soon grow into razor-sharp “meat hooks,” and you’ll bear the scars of your hubris. The man in the photo above (my husband, Asa R.I.P.) steadfastly ignored this advice, and had the scars to prove it. However, my cats do know not to bite my hands.
Okay, so you didn’t learn your lesson the first time around. What do you do now when a couple of pats on your cat’s tummy are rewarded with bloody scratches? There are a few things you can do to distance yourself from these play attacks:
- Trim His Claws
Hey, Rome wasn’t built in a night, and it will take quite some time to retrain your cat. Meanwhile, you might as well protect yourself from damage. Claw trimming should be done regularly, anyway, to keep claws from becoming ingrown. There is no need ever to declaw a cat because of scratching behavior.
- Yell “Ouch”
Don’t scream it, but say “Ouch” loudly and clearly. While you have your cat’s attention, slowly remove your hand from his clutches. Don’t yank it away or he’ll think play is on, and he’ll grab it again.
- “Scruff Him”
This is one of the most effective forms of discipline of cats. It mimics the punishment given a kitten by his mother when he became unruly. Grasp him by the scruff of the neck and firmly push him groundward, while saying “No!” in a firm tone of voice. Hold him in this position for only three or four seconds and release. Chances are, he’ll slink away, thoroughly chastened, to wash and recover his dignity. But he’ll remember this lesson for a long time.
- Redirect His Attention
Often playful biting of hands or feet occurs simply because your cat is bored, and is looking for a play object. Give him 15 minutes of active play with an interactive toy. Da Bird is a great choice. For several years it has defended its position as the top interactive cat toy.
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