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Cat Biting Problems


Here, our Maine Coon community friends have come together here to solve Mike's cat biting behavior problems. 

Cat Biting Issues

by: Mike De Graaf
(Rockford, Mi. 49341)

When it's time for bed he hangs on his cat tree and will bite if you pull him off. He is 10 months old, drew blood twice on me so I flicked his nose hard, and he bit my wife once.

Has his own room at night and does not want to go there when its bed time. Has a bed, window with view of front yard, queen size bed in room, food water and litter, toys, small cat tree, and light music playing till we get home, need info on what they think and how they act.

I hold 1 finger up and tell him no to biting, and he puts his ears down and nails me even when I am holding him. When we get home he stays by his room outside the bedroom door and doesn't want to come by us.

Reply:
Hi Mike,
You really have your hands full with this boy! Well, I have a couple of thoughts.

First, you didn't mention if he's a Maine Coon Cat (your questions are welcome if he's not!) I ask because cat biting problems, the lack of affection when you get home, and the aggressively biting you even when you are trying to cuddle him are not normal for the breed. If you got him from a breeder I would highly recommend that you contact your breeder and explain the aggression issues that your boy is having.

Second, is he neutered? This is about the age when a male will try to establish his 'Alpha' role in the household. Cat biting and aggression are just one way.

Other pet owners struggle with spraying (cats marking their territory) at around this time if their boy is un-neutered. Sounds like you don't have other pets so this might explain why he's not spraying.

But still he is at that age to begin showing dominance, perhaps through cat biting. If he's not neutered doing so now could solve your problems.

The lack of affection when you come home concerns me. Most Maine Coons will be very loving towards their people. They miss them during the day and want lots of love in the evening.

As for going to bed in the evening, that's a time when he is yet again establishing his independence. (Much like a human child who doesn't want to go to bed!) I would recommend making him an offer he can't refuse. How about withholding canned cat food until this special time? He'll likely come running to his room for that, and some cuddles, too.

Hope this helps &
All The Best,
~Carrie

Biting cat
by: Mike De Graaf

My cat is a Maine Coon from a breeder, paid a lot for him, and his name is Toby, ten months old.

We had him declawed and fixed right away, has all shots, only pet we have and never been outside.

He bit me so hard when I pulled him out from under the Christmas tree I had to spend News Years Day at medical center. My arm is swollen and infected bad. He gives me attention and still rubs on me and eats treats from my hand, how long will he try to be dominant ?

I tried to lay him down gently and put my leg over him and talk to him and show him I am the boss. Do I just let him come to me when he wants petting? Am I not to pick him up when I want?

It's my first Maine Coon, I don't know how they think, he is my first cat. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thank you Mike.


Update:
Hi Mike,

Well, now that I have some more info about Toby it is clear where your problems stem from. By the way, you've been getting some sound advice from the other Maine Coon lovers here.

First, what is not the problem:
He is not showing dominance. Since he's neutered and the cause is clearly elsewhere (which I'll get to) you can rule out dominant or Alpha aggression issues.

So, please, no more behavior-modifying techniques. They somewhat remind me of what one might do with a dog, though many folks would disagree with your techniques, even for a dog.

The training you are trying to do is hurting and not helping. It's clear you love your kitty and are trying to do the best for him. I would recommend you go out and get a cat behavior book,
since he's your first cat and there is a lot to learn, for any new cat owner.

You absolutely do not have to show Toby who's boss. Maine Coon cats are naturally loving, friendly and docile. What you perceive as training, he perceives as attack by a predator. He is confused as to your role and his. He's not a member of the pack but more of an outsider trying to keep safe.

On to the problem (this may be hard to hear, but it is the info you requested on what Toby is thinking and why he's acting the way he is):

Not only does he think he's in danger (being flicked on the nose or pulled here or there or being laid on his back, however gently is going to induce only fear) but now that he's under attack he doesn't have his primary means of defense: Claws

Herein lies your problem, and now that the deed is done I'm not sure exactly what the remedy is. You see, all the info on declawing is geared toward educating folks against it and showing them the alternatives, like scratching posts.

It's a well known fact that declawed cats are prone to cat litter box issues (which can arise years later) and to aggression issues through cat biting. See, Toby has lost a crucial part of his body. He would never have used his claws to scratch aggressively but now that they are gone he is defenseless and in a sense, paranoid.

Cat Declawing is now illegal in much of Europe and some parts of the US. It's viewed as mutilation, as it is a very painful procedure. It leads to behavior problems.

It is advocated against by virtually every pet association out there, and many vets won't perform it. I would assume your breeder had you agree not to declaw Toby? The responsible, reputable breeders of all breeds would be heartbroken to see their kittens altered in this way.

The natural disposition of a Maine Coon is so docile. I have raised 2 children with my 2 Coonies and these cats have unlimited patience with all kinds of handling.

Cats need their claws for more than just scratching, & there is more on our Cat Declawing page.

I say this not to make you feel badly. Again, I think you did what you thought you were supposed to do. But this page will help many future readers who will learn from this example of how declawing can change the disposition of a Maine Coon.

Not all cats will react this way, of course, but not all people who don't wear their seatbelt will have an accident. It's about being informed before it's too late.

So, Mike, on to you and Toby now. First, he may never be the affectionate love-bug he would have become with his claws. But, there are steps you can take to make things better.

1) As we mentioned, no more behavior training.

2) Yes, you should just wait for him to come to you. Don't reach down and pick him up for a while, until he start to trust.

3) I do understand the need for sleep. It's a personal decision whether you want to have a kitten pouncing on you all night. For those of us that work all day, we need our sleep! So, at bedtime, how about tempting him with canned food or treats so he'll go to his room? Or even teasing him with a toy he'll chase right into his room? (then treats for a reward)

4) You should reach the point where he will let you pick him up and he'll feel secure about it. Right now, he just doesn't know what's going to happen to him.

5) It would be great if you could get him to come up on your lap in the evening. If he could have a chance to bond, purr, and see that the only thing you have for him is a soft touch, he should come around.

Well, these are my thoughts for now...
Please send us an update after some time!
~Carrie




Reader Comments:

Don't punish!
by: Terry

Mike, don't punish a cat by hitting his nose or any other part. That only makes them frightened and more aggressive. Carry around a spray bottle and spray the cat with water if he gets wacky. After a while, he will associate the water bottle (not YOU) with wrong behavior. Trust me it works! And, coonies need to be with their people A LOT.

he wants to be with you
Is there a reason he is locked in a separate bedroom at night?. I have two maine coons; the kitten is 10 months old, spayed and declawed and is extremely loving.

Some nights she sleeps on the bed, sometimes she doesn't. My 5 year old male is neutered and declawed and he very seldom comes in to bed at night, or, if he does come in its only for a short time then he is off to another part of the house to sleep.

Your kitten wants to be with you, don't banish him to a room all alone when you are in the house. OH and don't flick his nose..that's not going to solve any aggression. Be firm and speak in slow low tones so he knows you mean business.

be nice!
hey that kitten seems to need more socialization! show more love and affection and try not to react physically to cat biting behavior so as to not encourage him with the attention it brings. be more hands on with play and affection and he may learn to show some love back!

cats do not have a boss
"I tried to lay him down gently and put my leg over him and talk to him and show him I am the boss. Do I just let him come to me when he wants petting? Am I not to pick him up when I want? Its my first Maine Coon, I don't know how they think, my first cat."

First and foremost, have you heard the saying "dogs drool, cats rule"? You don't dominate cats, they run the house, you are there to wait on them, feed them, clean the litter box, play with them.

Love your kitten, don't try to show him you are the boss because really you aren't.

Pet him when you want to, pick him up but don't try to force anything with him he will just ignore you. Some cats are more independent than others, you happen to have gotten an independent one.

Maybe you should get a second kitty so he has a playmate. Why did you pull him out from under the Christmas tree? Cats love anything new and claim it as theirs.

If you want to be the big boss of the house, get a dog.

Never De-claw a Cat
Declawing a cat is very painful and a horrible thing to do to a creature! How would you like someone to amputate all your fingertips?

Fear Aggression
by: Toni

Hi Mike,

If this is your first cat you probably have never heard of things like fear aggression.

Here's what you said you do to try to interact with kitty.

"I tried to lay him down gently and put my leg over him and talk to him and show him I am the boss. Do I just let him come to me when he wants petting? Am I not to pick him up when I want?"

Ok, so cats would see you putting a leg over them to hold them in place as something very mean and hostile. It would never happen to them in the wild unless a large animal caught them and was about to kill them.

At this point, your kitty has already become fearful of you and is reacting by laying his ears back and biting you. He's telling you to stay away or face his wrath.

Flicking his nose, dragging him out of places that he "thinks" are shelter for him (under a tree, in a cupboard, etc), putting a leg over him to restrain him or using any other method of restraining him will only make his fear worse.

Sooooo, for now you are going to have to push a reset button and start all over again with your furry friend. =)

The way to do that is to not pick him up or pet him unless he comes to you and jumps in your lap or rubs on your legs. If he rubs and purrs, lean down and pet him for just a minute, then walk away. Don't let it get to the point that he lashes out at you.

If you see his ears go back, walk away and ignore him.

If you keep doing that, he'll learn in a few weeks that you are a safe person and he'll start to trust you again.

At that point you'll see a BIG change and he'll be running to greet you at the door, hopping in your lap for naps and all those other good things we love about cats.

I have a new cat too, and she has a LOT of fear aggression because of her former home. The humans who owned her just kept making it all worse until it got to the point that they took her to a shelter.

I've been working with her for a few months now and she is finally becoming a very loving, sweet cat. So it works, I promise!

Oh and if you can manage it, just let your cat sleep wherever it wants to at night. If it makes a lot of noise playing, you could try playing with him before bedtime so that he'll be worn out and sleep through the night.

I use a 5 foot long piece of heavy twine and tie a piece of an old sock on the end of it. Then I just drag it around the floor behind me and my cat goes crazy chasing it till she's out of breath and exhausted.

Good luck,
Toni

Cat Biting Problem
by: Mike

Thank you everyone for your helpful suggestions, Toby and I are doing better, we are starting over fresh. He is responding well. Mike.

declawing is OK
by: Jacqueline

I have five cats all who are spayed/neutered and declawed. Three are Siamese and two are Maine Coons. They are all very loving, yes even the Siameses, and happy and well adjusted.

Don't let all these comments of declawing make you feel bad. You did what you felt was necessary for you and your cat to have a long happy life together. If you look at shelters, 95% of the cats looking for new homes are adult cats with claws.

Not all cats will always use scratching posts believe me, I had a cat who was 16 years old when he died who used my sofa for a scratching post. Nothing I did would deter his actions and I'm sure any other owner would have sent him packing.

Ever since I have declawed my cats when they were neutered/spayed and I am sure both surgeries are very painful. My cats are all very happy, no litter box issues, no aggression issues, they all still stretch and 'scratch' as they would with claws, sleep together, wash each other...and my dogs as well.

One final question: which would you rather have: your fingers cut off at the first knuckle which healed and live your life in a warm loving home with all the food and love you could want, or your entire fingers and put out at 2 years of age to fend for yourself in a world you don't know, hungry, scared, chased by animals, hit by a car, injured and left dying in a ditch or freezing to death. I think i prefer the first scenario.

Reward
by: Judy UK

Hi Mike
You might try positive reinforcement. i.e. entice him away with a treat; when he has complied reward. The same whether he's on his 'tree' or anywhere. let him smell the treat with your hand closed, then call him to you a good few feet away. It's worked well with Buddy 99%.
Try to remain calm picture somewhere with pleasant peaceful memories - believe me it works!. All animals pick up on our energy, if you're angry you'll project it.

Good luck Mike
Judy

Re. Declawing
by: Ashley

I have always had cats (indoor only) and they have always been declawed. The first one lived for 23 years and was perfectly fine, friendly and never had problems. She was part Persian.

My last one was 17 1/2 years with diabetes for nearly 4 years (well-maintained) and had been declawed at 6 months and never had any adjustment issues -also half Persian. My new cat is almost a year.

We adopted her from a shelter at 2 months old and the shelter had already had her fixed at 8 weeks old - THAT seems cruel and wrong if you ask me. Even my vet said she won't do that surgery on any kitten younger than 6 months.

This one we discovered is part Maine Coon - also had her declawed and there have been absolutely NO issues at all as some have tried to scare you with here. She had no problem with the litter box after surgery (we did get the paper litter for the time) and has had no issues since. She is very friendly and well-adjusted.

I believe declawing is a personal opinion matter. Everyone has their reasons and mostly it's furniture. I question those that claim their cat's personalities changed after declawing because that has never ever been my experience. Maine Coons are highly active and playful. It's like having a two year old that never wears out! Just have patience.

Bites
by: Mike

Toby has been very good, I would not trade him for anything, we have become very close. He still marks his food dish area and very window he looks out, I think that's cute.

He is happy without claws and neutered, he will never go outside, he has 2,700 square feet to call his own. I never knew how much a Maine Coon will shed, he needs brushed daily thats for sure.

He doesn't bite any more, and when he is on his cat tree which is 7 feet high, that's his safe spot, I let him rest, plus he can get away from grandkids there if they chase him too much. All in all we are buddies now, thanks to everyone for your encouragement. Mike

Toby also eats his treats from my hand now, loves his baths, and he even turned on bathroom faucet once after watching me, I caught him washing his hands, then getting a drink.

He looks forward to that but I keep door closed when I am gone. He runs fast and jumps very high, he can reach 40 inches now at 1 year old.

Every box that comes in house he has to try fitting in it, he also sleeps on my bed for part of the night. He is a lot different than owning a dog, and much easier to maintain.

He is fun, and I am glad he is declawed, but I wouldn't do that if he went outside.

Declawing
by: anonymous
All those saying they've never had behaviour problems, so what? YOU got a cat, YOU knew that cats came with claws, you have no right to get an animal then surgically change it.

If you didn't want a cat with claws, you shouldn't have gotten a cat, oh no your poor furniture, boohoo I feel so bad for you, get over yourselves, put your animal first or don't have one, would you cut off your child's finger tips just because he kept finger painting on your walls?

If you declaw your cat for reasons other than medically necessary ones then you're cruel and do NOT love your cat no matter what you say.

Maine Coon cat biting
by: Dee

I got a rescue Maine Coon who was already declawed front and back.

The person who had him went into a nursing home and put him in rescue. I have had him about 5 months. He is loving and sweet when he wants. I can pet him sometimes. Depends on HIS mood.

I would never declaw one and I really fee sorry for the cat. But, I was glad to read about Toby because my cat wants to bite a lot. He has bit the blood out of me a few times and wants to bite almost anytime I want to pet her.

I am very cautious around him as I don't like to get bitten. Frankly, I have been disappointed as I got him for company. Another factor is that the litter box has to be quite large and is very hard for me to clean it. I am 75 with problems.

I had no idea that the litter would be that much of a problem because of the size of the cat. He has wonderful home with me and gets the best treatment, but don't know how long I can do this. Also, I afraid all the time when I pet him I am going to bitten again.


row of maine coon cats


My Cat Bites

My 10 year old female cat has always been a biter. But she just bit my husband on the forehead and drew a lot of blood, he is really angry and ready to get rid of her.

I have 2 sick dogs in the house, both are in end stage disease, the cats dont come down stairs because my one dog wont let them, the only healthy dog any help.

Reply:
Hi,

Boy, you are in a tough situation. Sorry to hear about your dogs. That is hard.

It sounds like all the animals in the house are under stress. And I can understand your husbands feelings.

I'm inclined to think your girl kitty is unhappy. It's possible she's also sensing the illness in the house. Animals, out of instinct, will sometimes try to 'abandon' a sick member of the pack.

I think she doesn't want to be there in those circumstances. She's very likely one of many pets who really want to be an 'only pet.'

Do you have any friends or family members who could take her in temporarily, while you tend to the sick dogs? That way you could test whether her behavior changes. You could see if she became more happy and relaxed, which would reduce the chance of biting.

Is she declawed? If so, biting is her only recourse when she feels insecure. Where she'd prefer to give a small swat as a warning to dogs, she now has to resort to teeth which have much more potential for damage.

If she's not declawed, it's a behavior trait you can work with. You can do some cat behavior training to try to get her out of that habit. But first deal with her high level of stress. She won't change her ways until her atmosphere changes.


All The Best,
~Carrie

Comments:

Cat Bites
It could be that your cat smell the scent on the dogs or some other scent. When the cat bites, very lightly rap him/her just above the nose and say 'no.' Usually, the cat will eventually shy away from you when hearing the word 'no' and associating it to your hand being held close to the head (the cat's head).




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