Excessive love nips - Cat Forum : Cat Discussion Forums
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post #1 of 8 (permalink) Old 11-07-2011, 02:05 PM Thread Starter
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Excessive love nips

Here's my problem: I adopted a feral cat a month ago...may be a month and a half ago. Her name is Phantom. She's very skittish and freaks easily. She only trusts a couple of people. Those she trusts, she tends to be overly clingy to.

Within the last two weeks, she has been nipping at me. She starts purring and starts to cuddle and nips. It's where ever she can reach easiest: my foot, arm pit, lip, throat, etc. And she tends to pick some pretty sensitive spots. Happens whenever she starts to cuddle with me. She even cuddles with me in bed when she thinks I'm about to wake up or thinks I should be up. This morning, within an hour span, I got nipped 4 times.

Without using negative reinforcement or tapping her, how can I stop her? I've already tried yelling "ouch," but that seems to only encourage her even more.

I appreciate the love. I appreciate the fact that she choose me as her human, but this is getting to be a pain! I was on the phone with my husband when Phantom started following me. I stopped for a moment. She curled up around my foot, purred, head butted my foot and bit it. That cat has some SHARP teeth.

The vet said she is healthy. She has TONS of toys (100+). I have two other cats she plays with. Asked my husband about this and found out she does not nip him...only me.

She's about a year old. Been around humans for 3 months. Spayed.

What should I do?


Last edited by Beth_Laubenthal; 11-07-2011 at 02:06 PM. Reason: add info
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post #2 of 8 (permalink) Old 11-07-2011, 03:02 PM
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MowMow is my love biter. I've never been able to break him of it. I've only managed to teach him that if he bites TOO hard I leave and cuddle/love time is over.

I just say "OUCH!" and walk away.... eventually he learned that if I told him OUCH he had to ease up with the teeth and if he doesn't I walk away (he gets 2 chances now that he knows what he's doing wrong).
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post #3 of 8 (permalink) Old 11-07-2011, 03:56 PM
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Well, the good news is that she's probably still young enough where if you discourage this behavior strongly enough, you can probably get her to stop most of it in a way that will stick for the rest of her life. But if she feels that it's OK to keep doing this, it'll get tougher and tougher to change as she ages.

The thing about yelling OUCH is that it should never encourage her, because it always needs to be combined with you getting up and leaving, and ceasing whatever attention/play/cuddling you're doing with Phantom at the time. If you just yell OUCH and keep doing what you're doing, it won't have much effect. You need to combine that noise with the act of ignoring her, so she understands both that what she did was wrong, and that OUCH means that it was wrong.

Also, you're probably doing this already, but make sure that neither you nor anyone else uses a hand or limb as any kind of a toy during playtime. It's important to make sure that she knows that hands are not for biting/playing. For instance, if I'm playing with my kitty with toys and whatnot and she's in crazy attack mode, the second I touch her with my hand/pet her she stops the playing right away and ceases any scratching activity. That's what you want your cat to do, and the trick is to get her to really understand the difference between cuddle/love time and attack/play time. Giving her treats when she does one or the other thing exclusively is a good way of using positive reinforcement - when you're cuddling and she's not nipping, tell her how good she is and cram some treats into her. And after a nice playtime where she doesn't nip or scratch you at all, do the same thing. Combine that with the OUCH/ignoring when she does something wrong, and I can nearly promise you that you'll see some results.
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post #4 of 8 (permalink) Old 11-08-2011, 03:05 AM
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We get nipped too every so often. Sometimes Milky will let go very quickly but sometimes he grabs on and digs in quite hard. These are the times we want him to stop but so far when we yell ouch he'll just freakishly run off like he's scared... How do we fix that???
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post #5 of 8 (permalink) Old 11-08-2011, 05:58 AM
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Graybee likes to grab my head with both paws and then chomp down on my
scalp! Not hard enough to break skin but definitely forceful. He purrs a mile
a minute when he is gnawing on my head, then backs off and makes bread on
my shoulder or tummy. I always thought he just had a strange way of showing
affection. Luckily, he has never nipped me on any other body part!

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post #6 of 8 (permalink) Old 11-09-2011, 12:11 PM
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I'm in a very similar situation. I indeed scream AYYY! and go away, and it's improving her awareness. What can I say, born and raised in the street...I can't blame her. I know people here who behave in an even more primitive way (they poke your ribs when they want to say something to you). One more thing I do is teach her other ways of relating to me, and what has been working absolute wonders is her watching Prince and I relating. She's started copying his ways, and he is a very gentle cat. Where she used to bury her claws in my arm to tell me she didn't want me to leave her side, now she twines her arm with mine instead. It's a huge difference, and she learned it from Prince. One more: she used to rub her nose on mine excessively, now she has other ways of kissing me as well, so she does that one less.

I love it how cats are often a very positive influence on each other. Same happens with my strays, the more primitive learn from observing me with the more socialized.

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post #7 of 8 (permalink) Old 11-09-2011, 12:22 PM
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Enzo has started waking me up by biting the part of my nose between my nostrils!
Its funny, but annoying, he never bites hard or hurts me, just a quick nip to wake me up.

I dont know why he botheres though because i dont fuss him or get out of bed when he wakes me :-/
He usually just tries to get under the covers.
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post #8 of 8 (permalink) Old 11-10-2011, 12:24 AM
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I was just telling my husband last night before we fell asleep that Milky only seems to like nipping my right eyebrow.... of course I spoke too soon because last night Milky grabbed both sides of my head with his paws and nipped just under my left eye. It was so painful that I yelped and shoved him off me. Thank goodness he didn't cause any injury to me. Why does he do it???
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