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Our cat is a lovely big boy, he's 4 and we've had him since Jan 06. He's been a great cat from the start, no major trouble with him, friendly, sociable, likes to be around people (but not a lap cat). Since we got him, his method of telling us he doesn't like something was to snap/bite at us. IE if you are petting him and then he decides he's done he'll give a quick snap and then stalk away. When this happened, we'd stop what we were doing (ie petting, brushing, etc - unless it was something that HAD to happen like putting him in a carrier to go to the vet, etc) and just let him be. We thought we weren't reinforcing the behavior by stopping/walking away/ignoring him but now I'm thinking it was entirely the wrong thing to do.<br><br>
Lately - in the past 1-2 months - he has gotten much more "vicious". I think "vicious" is really overkill but I'm not sure what other word to use. At first we ascribed this to his recent 2 lb weight loss (he was 3 lb overweight - still working on dropping the last pound) and the fact that he is becoming more active, energetic, etc. He has been biting/swatting (claws in - but he is STRONG!) more, lately, but we’ve also been making a concerted effort to play with him (to keep him more active = lose weight) so it could be occurring at an equivalent frequency "percentage-wise" to his previous biting.<br><br>
The disconcerting thing is that he’s starting to bite/swat/attack without being provoked by anything we can see. He will just run up and bite an ankle, for example, or reach out and grab around a forearm with his paws and pull it toward him to bite. Because he’s so big and strong, he can do some serious damage – his jaw will basically fit around my scrawny forearm :-/<br><br>
What is the proper way to discourage this? It has gone beyond “I’m done playing now, please stop” and become more aggressive, and it is not quite the same “playful” biting – he really gets into it. My instinct is to say when he bites, forcefully move him or push him away and say “no” firmly, but then I think that would just encourage him to continue biting/attacking (ie he thinks we are playing). Ignoring doesn’t work, he just bites harder. I am really at a loss here. I would love any advice. Thank you!!!!<br><br>
Also, we were planning on getting a second cat this weekend (hoping a playmate would help keep him more active, keep him company, etc – it was always the plan to get a 2nd cat “eventually” and we had decided on this weekend as ski season is over and we will be home most weekends for awhile) but now we are thinking we should focus on Tomás and try to get this biting under control first and put off getting a second cat. Does that seem like the right thing to do?
 

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(((((( HUGS )))))))))<br><br>
try these sites for help:<br><br><a href="http://www.peteducation.com/category_summary.cfm?cls=1&cat=1310" target="_blank">http://www.peteducation.com/category...cls=1&cat=1310</a><br><br><a href="http://cats.about.com/od/behaviortraining/Feline_Behavior_Issues_and_Training.htm" target="_blank">http://cats.about.com/od/behaviortra...d_Training.htm</a><br><br><a href="http://www.secretsofcats.com/" target="_blank">http://www.secretsofcats.com/</a><br><br><a href="http://www.geocities.com/Heartland/Pointe/9352/behavior.html" target="_blank">http://www.geocities.com/Heartland/P.../behavior.html</a>
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks, Polka. It's looking like a trip to the vet might be in order. The websites all talk about petting-related biting (which is what we were used to, expected, and understand.. that is not the problem) but the only things they say about other aggressiveness is that it could be medical-related so that is a concern.<br><br>
One of the articles differentiates between Play-biting (which I don't *think* this is), biting-to-say-stop-petting (which it no longer is), Fear-and-anger agression (don't think it is - nothing has changed to trigger a fear/anger response), and territorial/protective aggression (again, nothing has changed?). So I don't even know where to look for help.<br><br>
Are there environmental things I might not be thinking of, that might be contributing to this? As far as I'm concerned his environment has not changed since January of last year... his diet changed in November of last year but this new behavior did not start until last month... am I missing something?<br><br>
Thanks for any help!
 

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First, definitely go to the vet. Sudden behavior changes are always suspicious.<br><br>
If he's healthy, it may be that he is just becoming more territorial as his confidence in the environment increases. He's been there just over a year, so perhaps he's just making a move to become more dominant towards the humans.<br><br>
I would consult the online pet behavior specialists and see what strikes you as an effective approach.<br><br>
My personal feeling is that I would deter a cat in the moment. Mother cats will press their kitten's heads downward quickly when they are getting too rough. I might try that, a quick hand over his face pressing down, just enough to get him to close his eyes and lose some momentum, and I'd accompany it with a sound of dislike--I do a sharp breath exhale saying "Ah-ah-ah!" that my cats hate.<br><br>
If he thinks you are playing rather than correcting him, I would start carrying a small spray bottle, and spray him right in the face when he gets too aggressive. If he's doing this to prove he's the big cat in the house, I think he needs to be corrected the instant he attempts to get rough with you.<br><br>
Be sure to keep his claws trimmed just in case he starts getting too aggressive with them.
 

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They identified 4 types of aggression on the last link: Play, Fear, Redirected, and Petting Related. I'm not sure which your cat has....
 

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Discussion Starter #6
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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>heartmama</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/7943151"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">They identified 4 types of aggression on the last link: Play, Fear, Redirected, and Petting Related. I'm not sure which your cat has....</div>
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I'm not either - I tend to think NOT on the Play, he does have petting-related biting, but that's different from what we are experiencing now and is not a problem (we have gradually acclimated him to petting, but we totally understand that sometimes enough is enough and that's OK with us)... so it's either Fear or Redirected, I'm just not sure what. You may be right though about the fact that he's been here long enough to be settling in and starting to feel territorial.<br><br>
Anyway, thanks for the ideas on how to redirect/deter the behavior. We will try to see if we can do the pressing-head-down-and-noise-of-dissatisfaction without him thinking we are playing with him, hopefully that will work.<br><br>
So far, he has NOT put his claws out - he uses his paws to pull you toward him to bite, or wrap around you, etc, but keeps his claws in - thankfully.<br><br>
Thanks <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/smile.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="smile">
 
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