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post #1 of 9 (permalink) Old 01-25-2011, 10:59 AM Thread Starter
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Suggestions for aggressive kitten needed please!

Hi,

Sasha is approx 18 weeks old now. The day we got her (at approx 11 weeks) we had to rush her to the emergency vets as she was close to death. Thankfully she recovered, although the vet warned us at the time that she would be a 'livewire'.... how right he was.

For the last maybe six weeks, she has become extremely aggressive. My hands, feet, legs and face are torn to shreds on a daily basis and I don't understand why she reacts this way. She is fed small portions 4 or 5 times a day, is cleaned daily, constantly has a fresh supply of litter, has approx 3 hours of active play a day, she is taken outside on her harness for walks, has endless toys, scratch posts, a tree.... and yet will bite and scratch until she draws blood as soon as you come into view. I just can't understand where I'm going wrong. It's not as though she is being provoked.

I've followed all the advice about ensuring she has sufficient play time, teaching her that hands are not for playing with and walking away when she becomes rough. However, this just seems to incense her more, and she will chase and scratch and bite to get my attention again.

She will regularly attack from behind when I'm sat on the couch, or my feet from under the table. I think every part of my body has been on the receiving end of her claws over the past couple of weeks. And yet, once she's tired, she's the most loving creature ever, and can't sleep unless she is snuggled up to you, usually under my chin! I'm presuming this would rule out any possible illness.

Is this something she will grow out of, possibly once she has been spayed and can start going outside? It's reached the point where friends avoid stepping foot in our home incase she attacks, and children are too afraid to pet her anymore.

Can anyone offer any advice at all please???
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post #2 of 9 (permalink) Old 01-25-2011, 11:33 AM
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First of all if you haven't clipped her claws, you should be doing this every 3 weeks or more if they need it. Get her used to it by putting a little smear of butter on her paws, so she associates touching her paws with some good. When she's relaxed start massaging the paws gently so she get used to them being handled. Use regular nail clippers, not those pet ones. When she's sleepy and relaxed, clip as many nails as you can, be careful not to cut into the vein. If she wakes up and protests, stop. She's in a teenage bratty bitey stage now, so isn't likely going to be cooperative having her claws clipped while she's awake. When she grows out of this stage (close to 1 yr. old) you can concentrate clipping while she is awake. Always reward her with a treat after clipping. I find it's easier for me to do it on our bathroom counter or a table, and have her sitting while you do her front claws and standing when you do the back ones. She should view clipping as a pleasant experience followed by a treat and something to look forward to rather than fearing or dreading.

Sasha does sound like a "livewire" and a little spitfire all right. If you could manage it another kitten would be the ticket to siphoning off her energy and aggression in play. One that is slightly older than herself that is calm and laid back in temperament, confident but not overly aggressive male kitty would be a good choice, as Sasha sounds like she has a very dominant aggressive personality. She did miss out roughhousing with her littermates when taken away from them at 11 weeks, so has not learned to control her bite and claws properly during that important socialization period.

You're doing the right thing by saying "No!" to biting and ignoring her when she bites, but you should stomp your feet at her if she comes after you to bite your legs. Redirect her attention with a toy/paper ball or feather toy/teaser.

Balance your firmness, with lots of cuddling and kisses when she is being a good girl. Let us know how things work out.

Last edited by catloverami; 01-25-2011 at 11:37 AM. Reason: Additional thought
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post #3 of 9 (permalink) Old 01-25-2011, 11:38 AM
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post #4 of 9 (permalink) Old 01-25-2011, 05:19 PM
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Haha! Sorry to laugh, but I went through exactly the same thing with my Pumpkin at that age. I tried playing with her every night for hours to tire her out, walks outside, telling her no, hissing, spray bottles, etc. but the attacks never stopped. In fact, if you told her no, she would rebel and come back for another bite (sometimes 10 times in a row)! Strangely enough, all of her behaviors disappeared while I was catsitting my friend's 2yr old male cat. After Yoshi (friend's cat) went home, Pumpkin got sick and had to go to the e-vet. She was being very feisty, and the e-vet told me that she was not socialized as a kitten and needs more interaction with other cats (this explained her behavior disappearance when she got around Yoshi). So, a few weeks later I adopted Simone, and she's been a perfect angel (mostly) ever since!!
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post #5 of 9 (permalink) Old 01-25-2011, 07:21 PM
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Are you up to getting her a playmate who she would play with and focus on instead of you? I would try putting soft paws on her so her scratching wouldnt hurt. Sounds like your doing all the right things.. hopefully this is just part of the kitten stage in extreme!
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post #6 of 9 (permalink) Old 01-26-2011, 02:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by swimkris View Post
Haha! Sorry to laugh, but I went through exactly the same thing with my Pumpkin at that age. I tried playing with her every night for hours to tire her out, walks outside, telling her no, hissing, spray bottles, etc. but the attacks never stopped. In fact, if you told her no, she would rebel and come back for another bite (sometimes 10 times in a row)! Strangely enough, all of her behaviors disappeared while I was catsitting my friend's 2yr old male cat. After Yoshi (friend's cat) went home, Pumpkin got sick and had to go to the e-vet. She was being very feisty, and the e-vet told me that she was not socialized as a kitten and needs more interaction with other cats (this explained her behavior disappearance when she got around Yoshi). So, a few weeks later I adopted Simone, and she's been a perfect angel (mostly) ever since!!

Wow, now see? That kinda goes with my thread I started too, (Maxie comes back at me alot too..lol) and also I hope helps the OP here Maxie can be very sassy when she plays, bites/scratches.. I've been looking into getting her friend too.. your story helps. Hopes it helps here too, thank you.
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post #7 of 9 (permalink) Old 01-26-2011, 03:02 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pussinboots View Post
Hi,

Sasha is approx 18 weeks old now. The day we got her (at approx 11 weeks) we had to rush her to the emergency vets as she was close to death. Thankfully she recovered, although the vet warned us at the time that she would be a 'livewire'.... how right he was.

For the last maybe six weeks, she has become extremely aggressive. My hands, feet, legs and face are torn to shreds on a daily basis and I don't understand why she reacts this way. She is fed small portions 4 or 5 times a day, is cleaned daily, constantly has a fresh supply of litter, has approx 3 hours of active play a day, she is taken outside on her harness for walks, has endless toys, scratch posts, a tree.... and yet will bite and scratch until she draws blood as soon as you come into view. I just can't understand where I'm going wrong. It's not as though she is being provoked.

I've followed all the advice about ensuring she has sufficient play time, teaching her that hands are not for playing with and walking away when she becomes rough. However, this just seems to incense her more, and she will chase and scratch and bite to get my attention again.

She will regularly attack from behind when I'm sat on the couch, or my feet from under the table. I think every part of my body has been on the receiving end of her claws over the past couple of weeks. And yet, once she's tired, she's the most loving creature ever, and can't sleep unless she is snuggled up to you, usually under my chin! I'm presuming this would rule out any possible illness.

Is this something she will grow out of, possibly once she has been spayed and can start going outside? It's reached the point where friends avoid stepping foot in our home incase she attacks, and children are too afraid to pet her anymore.

Can anyone offer any advice at all please???

Another thing I forgot to mention. Try spraying your own feet or hands with the water bottle. (Not the kitty, but YOU,,haha)

I know it sounds weird, but we aren't supposed to use a spray bottle on the kitties, but a couple times when Maxie got a bit too much, I had to. (self defense!) So she knows what it is though I barely use it, and I don't want to use it, but sometimes she really gets out of hand (plays too rough).

But it worked for me. Instead of her attacking/playing with my feet, when I sprayed my own feet, it was like she felt sorry for my feet and quit attacking them and rather then licks them. (Very cute..lol) She barely even touches them now. (If I have socks on, look out, she can't wait, and ouch..lol) I haven't really tried it on my hands, but I should try it and take my own advice. Hard to have the bottle handy though too.
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post #8 of 9 (permalink) Old 01-26-2011, 04:34 PM
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Ok, I'm gonna jump in here and be unpopular.

Firstoff, the OP's talking about a 14 week old KITTEN. She does NOT know what she's doing is either hurting you, or 'bad'. It's what her instincts tell her to do. This goes as a general until your kitten hits around 6 months, then switches to them doing it because there's something about it thats rewarding.

Cats don't do things on purpose to annoy/hurt us. They just don't. They aren't people in little fuzzy suits, they are a different species.

To fix the issue you need to be aware that she isn't doing it on purpose. I find that really helps with increasing your patience, because that's what you're going to need lots of!

When she pounces you she is trying to get you to play. Stand up and walk away from her, close yourself in another room if necissary, but DON'T react to her at all!
You mentioned that when you do this she gets worse, that's because she's frustrated with you. She wants to play, so she asks the only way she knows how and you ignore her! How rude! lol.

Wait until she calms down/leaves you alone and then go get a toy. I suggest something either very large, or something like a laser pointer or wand toy. Basically something she can't misinterpret to be you.

A better option would be to pay attention to her lots when she's being nice. When she's a sweet nice kitty that's when the toys come out and when you show her the most attention. This way she learns thats the behavior that gets her the things she likes.

Basically you give her lots of fun things when she's good, and no fun things when she's naughty.

Along with this I suggest getting her used to a kennel or 'naughty room', and a harness. Use lots of yummy goodies to introduce both to her.

Once she's catching on to behaving a little better then you can start using a word to tell her what it is you don't want. I say 'Uh uh'. To my kitties that means "You are doing something mummy doesn't like, consequences will come if you don't stop."
(Don't pick "No", we say it waaaay too often when it has nothing to do with our pets, this can confuse them and make it less effective.)

The way I started was very gently. They have to learn what the sound means.

Ex:
Baby Doran (6-8 weeks) is playing too rough with me. He tries to get me to play by biting my hand. I would say "Doran, Uh uh." Then grab a big toy to wrestle him with.

So, you say the correction, then replace the 'bad' behavior with a 'good' one.
(Keep in mind that just because you don't like what they are doing it might still be something their instincts tell them to do. So it's not really 'bad' just undesirable.)

Have her wear the harness all the time, my boys wore harnesses until they were over 6 months. It gives you a place to grab them by safely if they are about to do something dangerous, or if you need to hold them firmly without getting scratched/bit.

Once she's understanding the idea and you can see her thinking when you say your correction word then you can add a consequence.

Ex:
When Doran was a little older (12-14 weeks) and he tried to get me to play by biting I would say "Doran, uh uh." And wait. If he did it again I would calmly pick him up and place him in a kennel for a short time. Less than 1 minute. When I brought him out again I was ready with another toy and we would play with that instead.
If he again tried to bite same deal, back in the kennel for a short time out.

The key to a time out is that you must be calm. All you're trying to teach her is that if she's naughty the fun stuff goes away. Timeouts should never be longer than 5 minutes, and that only to clean up a mess without tripping over a kitty!

She is a baby. You have to be very patient to teach her the rules. Even if you say "No!" She doesn't come speaking english, she has no idea what that means. You have to teach her what the correction word means, and teach her another way to play and get your attention.

Now when my boys want to play with me they come up and paw me very gently. They are allowed to mouth me (holding their teeth on my skin with no pressure), but if I say "Uh uh." They must remove their teeth right away.

They don't get nearly as many timeouts now, but it really helped when they were babies.

(...I think I'm going to make up a comprehensive "How to raise a kitten" thread...*ponders)
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post #9 of 9 (permalink) Old 01-26-2011, 05:05 PM
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@librarychick: hmm that thread might be a good idea....

Anyway, I second pretty much what everyone else here has already said. The only thing that comes to mind is avoid string! I know it sounds dumb, but I just remember one of my first kittens absolutely loved chasing it, but sometimes would get over excited when pawing/jumping at it and scratch my hands instead. So keep up the playing, but just not where your hand might get latched onto instead, I guess.
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