Post # 1
A few weeks ago, my fiance and I adopted a grey tabby from the SPCA. He is 2 or 3 years old, and we named him Finn. Initially he was a joy to have around- extremely sweet and affectionate, playful, and well behaved. However, recently he has been displaying some alarming behavior. His new favorite game is to attack our feet (and, occasionally, hands) with his claws. We just bought spray bottles to hopefully get him to stop. He also is biting more, and has started attacking furniture with his claws, and ripping chair cushions. He also loves scratching our carpet. (We live in a rented apartment. Not good.) We play with him often, and he has a scratching post. I realize that he is not trying to be a bad cat, he just seems to have excess energy and be very playful. If anyone has any advice, I would very much appreciate it! Would he perhaps enjoy having a playmate…? I am concerned because soon I will be returning to fulltime classes, and my fiance will be doing his nursing program. He will by no means be left all day, but more than he is used to now. I don’t want his behavior to escalate!
Post # 3
@chocolatecoveredstrawberry: Do you have a scratching post for him? Cats need to scratch something to help them shed their old nail growth. That’s definitely a start, if you don’t have one! And make sure he has plenty of toys, both interactive (like a feather on a string) and ones he can use solo. (I like the big Kong mouse stuffed with catnip and newspaper – our cats like to grab it in their teeth and kick it with their back paws.)
A playmate might not be a bad idea, but you do need to find a cat that matches him in temprament – don’t pick up a timid or shy cat, because that’s a recipe for disaster. You also need to introduce them slowly, otherwise they might never get along. Cats are very territorial! You can find lots of info online about how to introduce a new cat to a resident cat.
The water gun is a great idea. You can also try shaking a jar of coins or making a loud noise when he attacks you. Cats hate loud noises, get startled and stop what they’re doing.
I’ve found that both the Feliway diffuser and the Sentry calming collar really help our very energetic, aggressive cat chill out (and stop attacking his sister). They are a little pricey, but worth it!
Post # 4
No mortal being can claim they own a cat, I just have one that lives in my house…and I love her, a lot…she was a little feisty as a baby kitty too, and I know that you rescued but if you go to Animal Planet and look up, My Cat From Hell, I’m not implying anything here, there’s a breed finder there. If you can get an idea of his breed or mix, it’ll help you figure out what he needs to chill out. For the cat that I live with, it was all about finding that one magic toy, after she had that, for some reason, life was good. It turned out to be one of the lures from this stupid cat fishing pole, she carries it all over the house and sleeps next to it…kind of dumb, but hey, I’m not a cat am I?
As far as the biting and attacking goes, it’s a cat, he’s doing something you don’t like, when that happens I would do something he doesn’t like….cats are smart, they get cause and effect….when Smoo is naughty I put my finger on her nose and push her little face down, not hard, I don’t flick her, I never hit her, no spray bottle, no noise shaker, I just push her face so she’s looking down. She never does whatever that was again. I don’t know if it’ll work with your cat, probably not, but the idea is to find a way to correct unwanted behavior…they’re not like dogs, they don’t really care…but they also kind of do….
Post # 5
@chocolatecoveredstrawberry: Do you have any pictures of your kitty?? I also have a gray tabby (see avatar haha) who exibits very similar behavior, so I totally get where you’re coming from. I think this is pretty normal for a young kitty, although kind of annoying and destructive for you. I know you mentioned you have a scratching post, but maybe buy another one or two, like one for each room? Our kitty likes to stretch to scratch, which was why she was scratching the sofa, so we got her a taller scratching post and that has helped. If there are specific pieces of furniture she likes to scratch, you can try wrapping them in alumnium foil. Cats hate the noise so they’ll be less likely to scratch.
As far as scratching YOU goes, the most effective behavioral training is to just stop playing with her and say “no” firmly. She’ll get the idea and hopefully retract her claws when she plays. We’ve been somewhat successful with this, although I think it’s a process.
Finally, although I’ve never tried them I’ve heard people say great things about Soft Paws. They’re tiny nail covers that you put over your cats claws to prevent damage from scratching. May be worth trying if all else fails….
Post # 6
@chocolatecoveredstrawberry: congrats on your new cat! I have a grey tabby and he is the best. I am a volunteer at a cat shelter so I have some recommendations:
1. please, please stop spraying the cat with a water bottle. throw that thing away. that is an awful thing to do to your cat, seriously please stop. Its very important to NOT punish your cat. this helps nothing. cats do not learn this way. this is just simply abuse (not saying you are meaning to abuse your cat. but it doesnt teach them anything…) many people do this but this will make your cat mean, bitter and scared.
2. when your cat scratch’s on stuff, in a stern voice, say his name and tell him “no” If he still doesnt stop, get up and just calmly and carefully stop him yourself (if he is scratching on a couch, pick him up and move him to his scratch post).
3. make sure his scratching posts are in family areas (living room, bed room, or other rooms you spend a lot of time in)
Please take the time to read this:
Good luck and enjoy your new family member!
Post # 7
@chocolatecoveredstrawberry: Yay for shelter cats! My first furbaby is from a shelter, as well. I’m thankful everyday that I rescued her. She’s the absolute love of my life (shh, don’t tell my husband).
It sounds like maybe your kitty isn’t getting enough playtime in. I just got a new kitten and he’s having similar behavioral issues (attacking my limbs with claws, biting during playtime). I’d try to play with him a bit more (maybe 20-30 minute sessions of intense play), and maybe try different games. I notice with my kitten that just throwing a mouse around won’t cut it. He gets bored, loses focus, and then starts going after my hands. I’ve gotten him a lot of wand toys and those seem to not only hold his attention more, they keep him far away from my hands, and I’m able to tire him out more easily beacause he’s constantly running and climbing to get the birdie.
As far as scratching the furniture, it could be that your kitty doesn’t like the scratching post you have. Cats are pretty finicky. I bought an upholstered post for my cats and they have never touched it. They do seem to like scratching pads and those cardboard scratchers, though. You might have to get a few different kinds before you figure out what he likes. You can also try rubbing some catnip on your scratcher to see if that will tempt him. Once you figure out what kind of scratcher he likes, buy several and put them in the areas he typically scratches.
Good luck with your new kitty!
Post # 8
I agree with using Feliway or a calming collar. Another thing is to be really strict with him whenever he displays any behaviour that you don’t want him to. Make a loud noise (I say “NO” in a firm voice and clap my hands)… This usually startles them enough to discourage the behaviour. If you are consistent in this then the unwanted behaviour should become less and less.
Post # 9
Thanks for your replies. I really appreciate the advice.
Yes, we have two scratching posts for the cat. When he scratches me, it is not when I am playing with him. He does it primarily when I walk by him, or when I am sitting on the sofa. I try to play with him a lot, and I have a lot of toys for him around, which he does use. I do not use my hands or feet in any way to play with him- he just naturally seems to enjoy “playing” with those areas. When he displays this behavior, I do spray him (when I can) and say “No!” loudly.
I appreciate your advice. I would like to find something to use other than a spray bottle to stop his behavior, like a coin of cans. However, wouldn’t that cause the same reaction? Honestly, it is hard for me to just calmly move him to his scratching post when he has just sunk his claws into my feet/arm/hand/fingers. I want him to detract his claws as soon as possible.
I am considering trying Soft Paws, and the collar you all suggested. Thanks!
I can’t help but feel discouraged. It has gotten to the point that I feel uncomfortable even walking past him (which is inevitable in a small 1 bedroom apartment.) I have grown up with cats. I love cats. But I am worried this behavior won’t stop.
Post # 10
My brother-in-law found our cat in the woods, in the mountains, many miles from civilization (being a little dramatic, but you get the point). Luckily, she was previously domesticated, but we had an adjustment period very similar to what you seem to be experiencing. Biting, scratching, attacking our feet every time we’d go up or down the stairs or round a corner, scratching furniture and carpets, all of these were daily occurrences. For months I thought I wouldn’t ever be able to really pet or cuddle with her. I guess what I’m trying to say is that I feel you girl! A little over a year later and she is my best fluffy kitty friend! We found out she likes scratching mats, not posts, so that helped with carpet scratching. We made sure she has her cat tree perched by a window so she has her “kitty tv”. We try to keep playtime interesting by varying the toys, keeping some out of reach. Lately we’ve been trying to walk her (we’ll see how that goes). We kept petting sessions short, and rewarded her with treats before she got sick of us. Watch my cat from hell!! Jackson galaxy is amazing, and everything we’ve tried we’ve gotten from him and his show. It took time, but I wouldn’t trade my cat for any other.
Post # 12
@Pepperwoodsy: Aw, it sounds like your poor kitty was traumatized from all she went through! I am glad you stuck it out with her, and she has become such a good friend for you. With my cat, he is very friendly, but I don’t know if he hasn’t learned proper behavior with people? I am not sure. He LOVES cuddling (to the point it is hard to sit in the living room without him jumping on my lap.) He honestly seems needy a lot, and I have been reading about his behavior, and apparently it is play aggression. I am considering visiting the SPCA tomorrow to get him a playmate.
Post # 13
@chocolatecoveredstrawberry: Some great tips here already. Have you tried keeping your cat’s nails trimmed? I know they can still be sharp, but I notice my cat’s playful scratches are much worse when his nails are really long (so long they begin to curve under).
This doesn’t solve the problem, but it can help make it less painful for you, and less damaging to the furniture.
Post # 14
I have a cat that I’ve had since she was a kitten and she’s a grey too – apparently all her brothers and sisters turned out to be holy terrors like her. She’s only lovey when she wants to be and usually she’s kind of a monster! I love her though, and the few things we’ve implemented that have been somewhat successful have been spray bottles (I know someone said that it’s bad and whatever, but it’s not actually harmful to the animal and let me tell you, it’s about the only thing that will stop her from pouncing on me when she’s got her evil eye on), calming collar, and cat Prozac. We also put her in “time-out” if she’s aggressive and needs to calm down a second. The combo of these things, plus she’s declawed, has given me MUCH less scarring from her crazy cat rants. She also is fixed, which calmed down the kitten hormones a bit. She’ll be 4 in January and she’s getting progressively calmer … dk if it’s our interventions or just aging. People have told me to get rid of her and that there’s a nice cat in the shelter waiting for a good home, but darned if I don’t just love her and can’t ever give up, so I completely empathize with your predicament. Hope it gets better!
Post # 15
Something else, and this may have been mentioned, one of our cats is a horizontal only scratcher and the other is entirerly vertical. It sounds like yours is both, but my cat that is horizontal will not touch a scratching post but LOVES his cardboard scratching box that lies on the floor- it’s his safe place and I’ll see him nap on it during the day.
I also know from the show My Cat from Hell that was mentioned that he stresses the importance of giving your cat places to perch. I know those big things can be pricey, but maybe even building your own floating shelves that he can climb and perch from…maybe cover them in carpet or something?
Feliway can be really great as well as scheduled play time and scheduled feeding time. We have friends that have a cat that is down right viscious and they had an animal behaviorist come over and stressed the importance of the cat being on a schedule. I notice with my two if 1 beats up on the other one, I discipline with a “No!” and then immediately take him into the open bedroom and play with him for a good while to get that energy out. A lot of times they’re just bored and need to be stimulated.