nixx (nixx) wrote in allthingscat,

Hello everyone, just a quick question - would appreciate any advice!

I've recently become the proud parent of a kitten, who's about 4-5months old. I adopted him from the RSPCA so the age is a bit sketchy, but this is a pretty good estimate. I've had him home for about a month. He's my first ever cat (I've always had dogs, and still do have dogs, but never been allowed a cat until now) so I'm kinda new to this.

Anyway, Euro has been amazing. He's been a real joy to have around and we're forming a really close bond. He's caused me no real issues so far - uses his litterbox perfectly, scratches things meant for him and not the furniture etc But, tonight he kind of did something that wasn't too... fun. When I was walking through the lounge area he ran up after me, latched onto my leg and started scratching and biting. It was pretty damn painful, and I had to scruff him just so I could get him to let go without causing further damage (I got some good war wounds) - I guess my question is, is this pretty normal for a kitten? Is there a way I can deter him/teach him that this kind of behaviour is not acceptable? And what's the best way to make him let go? I know he was probably only playing - but claws and teeths! ouch!

I'm honestly not too worried about myself, I'm an adult and I'm used to scratches and bites from animals, but I'm living with my mother right now which also includes my younger sisters who are around ten. If this happened to them... well, Euro would not be in anyones good books, that's for sure.

Euro says: "This face gets me away with murderz"

x-posted to cat_lovers
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This behavior is incredibly common for cats, and it almost always plays out the same way. It's dark, a person is walking down the hallway or around a corner, and the cat sees this as a perfect opportunity to pounce and initiate play.

Unfortunately, a lot of cats don't know how rough is too rough (something they would learn from their litter and mother), so they tend to overdo it. So this becomes part of what the cat has to learn, inhibition of claws and teeth, as well as the right versus wrong things to play with (as in, not your legs). There's a few ways to go about doing this, and I like to tackle it with several things all at once.

First, keep toys handy, especially the fishing pole type toys and anything that is interactive. Keep a few stashed around the house, and if you can, near the places he likes to jump out. You want to try to use toys to encourage him to play with appropriate things, rather than trying to teach him not to do something you don't want. When he jumps out, grab the toy and initiate play. Another thing you can do is anticipate these episodes, and be prepared. When you see him ready to pounce or setting up to ambush, toss a toy down the hall or into the room in front of you. He'll be likely to jump after it, and then you can reward him for playing with an appropriate item. If toys don't work, get out the good food items and use those instead.

It's also helpful to play with him during other times of the day to help keep him exercised. As a kitten, he has loads and loads of energy and will need lots of interaction and stimulation.

Second, you need to teach him how much is too much with the teeth and claws. When he bites or scratches more than you think is appropriate, interrupt the action. You can do this by immediately getting up, by making a sudden noise like a clap, or by verbally making a noise such as "Ouch!" I find a high pitched "Ouch!" to be the most effective, as it tends to get the point across better. Immediately after you interrupt the behavior, get up and walk away. Remove all attention, even negative attention. If you have to, walk into a different room and shut the door. Biting and scratching means that good things come to an end.

Third, reinforce what you do want. Remember to reward good behavior, like playing gently, or not jumping out and attacking you when you walk down the hallway. For this, keeping small stashes of tasty high value rewards around the house can be handy, too, that way they're right there when you catch him doing something good.

Lastly, trim those claws! It will help. ;)
Excellent advice, I might just print this out to keep it handy :)

I do have a bunch of toys, all scattered through out rooms for him. I make sure I play around lots with him - he loves chasing feathers and mice tied to shoe strings, I make sure I tire him out as much as I can! I was honestly so shocked (and kind of in pain), that grabbing a toy for distration was the last thing on his mind - I knew it was play but... it really did seem ferocious! haha poor kitty, silly human having weak skin.

This is actually the first night he's jumped right out and attacked me - normally he'll run up to me, I'll stop, and he'll chirp and start snuggling up for a pat. Sometimes he'll run after me and I'll stop walking (so I don't encourage him to chase me) and he'll sail on past and run into another room. I'll definitely give the treats a go, and make sure there's plenty of toys on hand!

With the nail trimming, I actually tried this a couple of days ago. I'm honestly a little spooked when it comes to trimming nails; I used to have no problem - dogs, rabbits, birds, whatever. Unfortunately a dog I adopted from a shelter about 7 years ago let me know he didn't like me trimming his nails by biting me in the face (bless him, he's still the best dog I've ever had), I've been bitten by numerous dogs over the years but this one incident really put me out of my comfort zone in regards to trimming nails. I don't have anyone to help me hold Euro, so I don't know how to hold him correctly whilst trimming his nails. He let me do two before he got wiggly, and by that I time I got a bit nervy again - which doesn't help, I know.

He has a vet appointment next week, for extra vax, I'm gonna ask the vet to give them a trim while he's there. I know I'm going to have to get over this phobia and learn to do it on my own though - so any pointers! Seriously, I would welcome them so much.

(note: Unfortunately for my troublesome pooch, the only way he can have his nails trimmed is if he's heavily sedated - we tried the vets and even with a muzzle and two nurses trying to hold him down while the vet attempted to trim - nothing got done)
I have a real squirmer of a kitty, and I've had to learn to trim her claws on my own. I find the best way is to get the cat in your lap, with one arm around his body and front paws between your fingers, so he can't squirm away backward. Hold him close against your chest and make sure you've got a good snug hold, but don't squish him too hard that he can't breathe. Keep ahold of both paws while you're trimming, or you're likely to get scratched (and also it's easier for the cat to get away if you don't). Trim fast, most cats have a certain tolerance for the amount of time they'll let you hold on to them before they start really fighting. If you don't get finished in one round, let him go for awhile and come back to it once he's calmed down again.

Back claws are another matter... I usually don't trim them, though, it's the front ones that do most damage.