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Old 06-21-2010, 08:10 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default HELP! My new cat scares me!

I just adopted a 3-year-old spayed female cat from a humane society a week and a half ago. She was a stray, and this is my very first cat. She was understandably very stressed the first couple of days I had her and would hiss and hide from me. She would hiss and squirm and try to bite if I tried to pick her up.

Now it is much better, but I still have some big problems. She doesnít like being picked up but usually doesnít hiss anymore when I do. However, she tries to bite me sometimes when I am petting/brushing her, especially her chest/belly area but she bit me once when I was gently stroking the back of her neck (I pulled away quickly but her teeth still made contact). She doesnít like me touching her feet either, and I am really scared of whatís going to happen when I have to clip her toenails in a few weeks. She also tries to pounce on my legs while Iím walking. When I sing or play the guitar or piano, she tries to bite meóI think she thinks my arm is a moving toy while I play guitar, but regardless I donít want to be bit! I donít know why my singing bothers her, but she always tries to pounce on me when I do.

I donít know what to do! I really enjoy having her, and 95% of the time she behaves nicely. Itís just the other 5% that scares me. Iíve never had a cat before so Iím not very confident in these situations.

I am desperate for suggestions. I really really enjoy having her, but I'm not sure if I should keep her with this behavior. Is there any way to fix/improve this behavior? Do you think she will get better with time?
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Old 06-21-2010, 08:15 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Welcome!

Many cats don't like their bellies being touched, or feet, so that's normal. As far as clipping their nails, I bring my girls to a groomer, it's too hard to do it myself, and extra difficult with long-haired cats.

Sometimes cats will nip at you when they've had enough petting. You'll learn to see warning signs, back rippling or tail snapping around.

When she bites you, push your arm or hand towards her mouth. That response will surprise her and she'll let go. Then put her down away from you. It may take a while, but she'll learn that biting will get her ignored, and most cats don't like that. Cali was my biter and it did take a while to get the point across, but she learned.
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Old 06-21-2010, 08:20 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Agreed. She actually sounds like a normal, slightly stressed cat. She probably needs more time to settle in. You may want to hold off on the guitar playing and singing for a while or put her in another room while you do it. It's common for cats (and dogs) to react to music and she may need more time to get used to it.
If she's attacking your legs/feet under the blankets, that's absolutely normal.
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Old 06-22-2010, 01:47 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: HELP! My new cat scares me!

our cat Jango was a stray as well, and exhibits a lot of the same kind of behaviour. a lot of it is just learning to read their body language and responding properly, which you will learn over time. Jango hardly likes to be petted at all, he will tolerate quick scratches and a couple pets, but he gets irritated quickly and nips (he nips NOW, but when we first got him, he bit. hard.) and he also doesn't like to get picked up, he used to scratch and bite to be let down. all his adverse reactions have cooled over time as he's learned to trust us, but he (and you cat too) may never get to the level of cuddly that a lot of people expect for cats.

for instance, spending quality time cuddling with jango usually involves lifting him up so he can sit in my lap while I do things on the computer, watch television, or pee . he doesn't like to be pet or held, but he does like to sit on laps. or he'll sit beside me on the couch, or lay beside me on the bed, with maybe his back touching me if I'm very lucky.

for the feet, I might wait a few days so she can learn to trust you more, give her lots of treats and be very nice to her, but don't push too much with the petting unless she comes up, and once she's more used to you touching and restraining her, I'd start playing with her pads just a little. a little massage, and making very nice voices at the same time, but back off if she gets mad. (I always say sorry when I annoy jango, I feel like he understands it from the tone of my voice.) jango used to HATE when I would try to touch a foot, and now he regularly falls asleep on my lap while I massage his feet. cutting his nails the first few times was hard (it helps if you can get someone else to hold him, while you deal with the foot) but now it's super easy and I can do it alone.. but mostly what you need is time. also, maybe try a play session with a laser or something before you play guitar and then she might be tired enough to not attack.
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Old 06-22-2010, 02:50 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: HELP! My new cat scares me!

^ Agreed with your post.

My Miso was a stray before we adopted him as well. It will get better with time once she settles in and trusts you. I did alot of research on cat behavior and learned how to read their body language and that really helped. Here's a good site http://www.messybeast.com/cat_talk2.htm Good luck!
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Old 06-22-2010, 03:58 PM   #6 (permalink)
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ok, so you want to brush your cat. Start brushing where she likes it. Watch her ears and her tail. As long as her tail does not twitch, you're fine. If you start moving towards an area that she does not like, she will tell you with her tail and her ears. If she starts twitching the tail, move back to an area where she was previously enjoying it. Don't expect to get the whole cat brushed at first. be happy with a 1 or two minute session and work up from there.
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Old 06-22-2010, 06:17 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: HELP! My new cat scares me!

my 4 year old female tabby was a stray too at age of 7 months old when i took her in. she is 4 years old now and still won't let me pick her up and it has been a challenge for me to take her to the vet, on the other hand she loves been brushed and roll overs for me to make sure i don't miss any parts
my other male white cat i adopted her at age of 6 weeks old and he is 3 years old and she hates me brushing her except around head and neck, she scratch and bites me and hissing at me if i do any other areas. so... they are different and we just have to be patient and have some flexibility.
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Old 06-23-2010, 03:32 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: HELP! My new cat scares me!

Quote:
When I sing or play the guitar or piano, she tries to bite meóI think she thinks my arm is a moving toy while I play guitar, but regardless I donít want to be bit! I donít know why my singing bothers her, but she always tries to pounce on me when I do.
My cat complains sadly when I sing and play, to the point where I rarely do it anymore because of her. My suddenly louder and changed voice worries her and the sound of the metal guitar strings being hit frightens her. We did get to the point where she wouldnt run and hide at the sight of the guitar, but she'd sit and complain so sadly I don't have the heart to do it much.
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Old 06-26-2010, 05:48 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Default Re: HELP! My new cat scares me!

Thank you all for your helpful advice. I really appreciate all your cat wisdom.
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Old 06-30-2010, 11:37 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Default Re: HELP! My new cat scares me!

My adoring little fan won't stay away.

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