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post #1 of 15 (permalink) Old 01-15-2011, 04:53 PM Thread Starter
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Face Licking

Athena's developed a weird habit the past few days. She's always been the "licky" cat, but now she's taken it up a notch!

Every morning, around 5 or 6am, she begins licking my face. This is usually the time my boyfriend gets up to leave for work, so I figure, maybe she's trying to wake me up because she wants breakfast?

This morning, since my boyfriend got to sleep in, she did it to him too, but not just licking. When he ignored the licking, she started biting at the corners of his mouth.

His theory was she's expressing instinctual behavior because she's hungry. I'm familiar with this behavior in dogs - as a throwback to how wolf cubs would lick at the corners of their mom's mouth to get her to regurgitate food for them. Do cats, or did cat ancestors do this too?

She's definitely very persistent about it! It's funny, it reminds me of my parents' dachshund. Like Athena, she burrows under the covers at night, and then emerges in the morning to begin licking our faces.
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post #2 of 15 (permalink) Old 01-15-2011, 05:02 PM
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I don't think Athena's asking you guys to regurgitate for her, but this may be her way of trying to wake you so she can get fed.

How soon after rising do you feed her and Apollo?

No one in my house gets fed until after I've had my shower; I am NOT a morning person and having six cats prowling my bed looking for breakfast anytime before daybreak is not a scenario that's going to end well. Now, they all just line up and watch me shower, which can be creepy sometimes, but is worlds better than the alternative.

AC
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post #3 of 15 (permalink) Old 01-15-2011, 05:04 PM
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People worry about the weirdest things....
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post #4 of 15 (permalink) Old 01-15-2011, 05:11 PM
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For many years I did have indoor/outdoor cats, I don't ever recall any of them coming and regurgitating prey. They always brought the prey either dead or alive, whether it was mouse, vole, bird, rabbit, snake and weasel, to the back door and meowed a big fuss, until I checked out what they brought. I did have a very piggy cat who would run at the sound of another cat barfing....and then he would gobble up the snack, unless it was a hairball.
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post #5 of 15 (permalink) Old 01-15-2011, 05:17 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Auntie Crazy View Post
I don't think Athena's asking you guys to regurgitate for her, but this may be her way of trying to wake you so she can get fed.

How soon after rising do you feed her and Apollo?

No one in my house gets fed until after I've had my shower; I am NOT a morning person and having six cats prowling my bed looking for breakfast anytime before daybreak is not a scenario that's going to end well. Now, they all just line up and watch me shower, which can be creepy sometimes, but is worlds better than the alternative.

AC
It varies. I'm definitely not a morning person either, so usually I try to shower first. However, when my boyfriend gets up (at 5am) I suspect this rouses them so they feel they should be fed. And then when we sleep in until 11am or so on weekends, they probably get quite impatient since they're used to eating before 10. My schedule when it comes to weekends vs. weekdays is a mess.

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People worry about the weirdest things....
I'm not actually worried. Just curious as to why she does this. I just want to understand my cat better.

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Originally Posted by catloverami View Post
For many years I did have indoor/outdoor cats, I don't ever recall any of them coming and regurgitating prey. They always brought the prey either dead or alive, whether it was mouse, vole, bird, rabbit, snake and weasel, to the back door and meowed a big fuss, until I checked out what they brought. I did have a very piggy cat who would run at the sound of another cat barfing....and then he would gobble up the snack, unless it was a hairball.
Yeah, that's what I thought. I know it's an instinctual behavior with dogs, but never heard of cats or big cat relatives doing the same. My boyfriend just kept insisting that must be the explanation.
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post #6 of 15 (permalink) Old 01-21-2011, 11:59 AM Thread Starter
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While this started as cute and kind of odd, it's becoming problematic. Every night sometime between 3 and 5am she starts biting and licking our faces. I don't think it's because she wants food, since later when I get up to feed her, she's sometimes hungry and sometimes not.

Any tips on how to discourage this behavior? We're currently just moving her off the bed every time she does this, as that's what seemed to work back when she had a habit of trying to sleep on our faces.

It's interesting how she keeps developing these increasingly violent nighttime behaviors. First she tries to suffocate us, then she starts biting us, next month she'll be hitting us in the face with a hammer at 3am.
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post #7 of 15 (permalink) Old 01-21-2011, 12:08 PM
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To me, it sounds like she feels you should be up when she is to play. She just seems to be trying to get your attention. You might need to lock her out of the bedroom for a while, but be prepared for the nightly serenade
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post #8 of 15 (permalink) Old 01-21-2011, 12:10 PM
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Try hissing / growling / snapping at her the instant she wakes you. It sounds odd, but it does work. Spencer used to come bug me for petting in the middle of the night. I tried a bunch of different things before I decided I was going to have to use kitty-speak. The very next night, he hooked a claw in my lip while patting my face. I woke up startled, in pain, and angry, and I lunged toward him while growling and snapped my teeth together just a whisker's distance from his nose.

He's never bothered me while I was sleeping again.

AC
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post #9 of 15 (permalink) Old 01-21-2011, 12:25 PM
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Originally Posted by Auntie Crazy View Post
Try hissing / growling / snapping at her the instant she wakes you. It sounds odd, but it does work. Spencer used to come bug me for petting in the middle of the night. I tried a bunch of different things before I decided I was going to have to use kitty-speak. The very next night, he hooked a claw in my lip while patting my face. I woke up startled, in pain, and angry, and I lunged toward him while growling and snapped my teeth together just a whisker's distance from his nose.

He's never bothered me while I was sleeping again.

AC
Oohoho~ My kitten does this to me often, but if I were to get near his face while acting aggressive like you did, my face would be shredded to bits! Plus, my kitty is the alpha-type. He will not give up until you let him do what he wants.
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post #10 of 15 (permalink) Old 01-21-2011, 12:46 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by dweamgoil View Post
To me, it sounds like she feels you should be up when she is to play. She just seems to be trying to get your attention. You might need to lock her out of the bedroom for a while, but be prepared for the nightly serenade
That's probably about right, considering she also keeps dropping toys on our faces to play fetch.

And thankfully Athena is the silent meow-er, so she doesn't serenade us when locked out. Apollo can be loud (and of course if we put one out in the living room, they both have to go) but we can usually sleep through it. I eventually did that this morning since I needed to squeeze an hour of uninterrupted sleep in before work.

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Originally Posted by Auntie Crazy View Post
Try hissing / growling / snapping at her the instant she wakes you. It sounds odd, but it does work. Spencer used to come bug me for petting in the middle of the night. I tried a bunch of different things before I decided I was going to have to use kitty-speak. The very next night, he hooked a claw in my lip while patting my face. I woke up startled, in pain, and angry, and I lunged toward him while growling and snapped my teeth together just a whisker's distance from his nose.

He's never bothered me while I was sleeping again.

AC
Ahh excellent advice. We usually do use a hissing sound when the cats are misbehaving and that seems to be pretty effective. I think we've probably just been so groggy and half-asleep when the face-biting happens that we didn't even think to try it!
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