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post #1 of 7 (permalink) Old 04-05-2009, 12:45 AM Thread Starter
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Cat attacking me!

My cat is very friendly, purrs and cuddles, but sometimes when you're just sitting there with her in your lap she'll suddenly bite your hand/arm. Other times when you're walking by she'll just for no reason bite your leg. She is about 4 years old and I got her at a shelter about 1 year ago, so I'm not sure if she was never disciplined by her previous owner or why she gets so aggressive sometimes. Recently I tried to teach her this is not proper by a stern "NO" and a gentle tap on the head. A few times she has accepted this and just gone on with her day but a couple times recently she has just went crazy and goes on full attack mode. She'll sit there with a crazy look and literally jump at me and try to attack me. I'm not sure what her issue is, but she does have a lot of split personality issues. Like I said she'll be super nice a loving and sometimes she'll arch her back and run sideways away from me like she's terrified.

My questions are...
1. What do I do to stop the biting?
2. When she goes into full attack mode what should I do? I will generally just leave the room, but she'll follow me out and keep attacking my leg as I escape and if I'm eating or watching tv or something I don't always just want to get up and leave.
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post #2 of 7 (permalink) Old 04-05-2009, 01:04 AM
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Re: Cat attacking me!

Is she wanting to play?
I've never had a cat 'attack' me unless it *really* wanted to attack me (smelled an outside tomcat on me and had a moment of misdirected aggression) or the cats wanted to play. I do not encourage my cats to play with my body parts (hands, arms, feet, legs) but I will inter-active play with them by dragging or throwing soft toys for them to leap and catch, chase and wrestle/bite with. Some of my cats even play "chase" or "ambush" with me and we have great fun. They quickly learn that playing nicely is lots of fun, but if I get hurt (teeth/claws) the fun stops.

Is she giving you any indications she wants to play? Eyes dilated, ears pricked forward or tipped back, head up, back arched, tail up, curved or swishing and feet/legs stiff/splayed? I've even had two cats who would "fuzz-up" at me, arch their back, tails up, ears back, eyes wide and they'd bounce sideways at me! ...sort of like a kitty: "you wanna piece of me?" gesture... ... and sometimes meow to catch my attention when they wanted to play.
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post #3 of 7 (permalink) Old 04-05-2009, 01:13 AM Thread Starter
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Re: Cat attacking me!

Sure doesn't seem like she wants to play. The biting may be wanting to play, but when she's in full on attack mode she seems pretty intent on ripping my eyes out. When she's in my lap for awhile while I'm sitting on the couch and just out of nowhere bites me I'm not so sure that's wanting to play either, but I guess it could be.
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post #4 of 7 (permalink) Old 04-05-2009, 02:06 AM
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Re: Cat attacking me!

Hmmm. Can you give a more detailed explanation of the 'ripping eyes out, intent'?
That sounds serious and I think I'd need more information before advising you about it.

As for sitting in your lap and biting you out of the blue? Sorry. If any of my cats did that to me they would be unceremoniously shoved off my lap. Bite? You're gone: Shove. ...and then I ignore them. I don't look at them to judge their reaction, I don't give them a "that's what you get" look at all. I just ignore them. ...but I'd certainly be *aware* of them after I dump them off my lap, because if they persist in being a pest, and me shoving them off has made them 'get their fight on' and they instigate even more aggressive behavior, I'll grab them by the scruff and place them in the bathroom for 10-20min to chill out. Bad or inappropriate behavior is rewarded in three different ways, depending on what they've done: immediate CESSATION of attention from me, GETTING no further attention from me and temporary BANISHMENT from me and into a boring room.
Now, you also need to be able to read your cat and determine WHY she is behaving in this manner. If all she is doing is wanting to play and she just doesn't know how to *ask you to play*, then I think that is a communication issue that you and she would have to work together on so you can both be pleased with your interactions together.
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post #5 of 7 (permalink) Old 04-06-2009, 09:52 AM Thread Starter
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Re: Cat attacking me!

By the ripping eyes out I mean she just gets back and gets a mean meow tone and arches the back like she's angry as **** and just pounces with the front paws out straight towards me like she is intent on killing me. Luckily I got her from the shelter with no front claws or she would probably do some damage, but she's clawing and biting and when she realizes she hasn't hurt me she revs up again and pounces and attacks the same way again...pouncing claws(or no claws) forward straight towards me. I usually at this point just get up and walk away as whatever I'm doing sitting there is ruined anyways and she'll follow me and pounce and claw and bite at my legs. This definitely doesn't seem like play time, but not knowing how she was handled for the first 3 years of her life with the previous owners who supposedly turned her into the shelter because of "allergy issues" I don't know how she has been treated/played with/disciplined. This is my first cat so I don't want to be too hard on her, but I want her to learn proper behavior too.
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post #6 of 7 (permalink) Old 04-06-2009, 09:57 AM
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Re: Cat attacking me!

When she gets into her "full attack mode" now, that's something to be worried about. However, my own kitty often will be chilling next to me, or on my lap and he'll suddenly grab my arm with his front paws and want to bite and kick. Do you have only one cat? Because Nito does this a lot when he hasn't been back to my parents house to visit Elfie, Rusty, and Fella for a while. He wants to wrestle something, and since there are no cats around my arm just has to do.

For a lot of cats, you would not want to encourage this behavior. But if your cats practices restraint (sheathed claws, and gentle biting) I have never seen any reason to deny him of fun. He wants to wrestle so I give him just that! I wiggle my arm, my hand becoming a fake set of teeth doing gentle pinch grabs around his neck, or I turn it around and act like my teeth are nipping his haunches. (I NEVER would hurt him with this kind of play, but I do mimic were my cats try to nip each other when they play). Nito has a blast, he just loves it! I would not recomend encouraging this kind of play unless your cat practices good restrain. The minute the claws/teeth get too rough the game is over. I just figured that you might be able to satisfy your kitty's urge to wrestle something if she's gentle enough. Or you can try a large stuffed animal, one she can wrap her arms around and full out kick.
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post #7 of 7 (permalink) Old 04-06-2009, 02:10 PM
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Re: Cat attacking me!

Hm. She does seem like a puzzling case. Were she mine, I think I would put her through my Kitty Cat Boot Camp regime and see if that could help solve some of her issues. Since I cannot see what she is doing, it is difficult for me to say 'try this' or 'do it this way' because I don't know what she is doing, how you would be reacting and how she would be reacting to that.
It sounds complicated, but it is really just watching and paying attention to body language.

Immediately, though...since you say she ramps up when she hasn't caused you any damage, start yelling "Ouch!". Give a short little scream. An agonized 'yeeaaaaaggghhhh!'. Anything to alert her that her behavior is hurting you and maybe she will begin to 'police' herself.
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