Brand New to Cat "Ownership" - Cat Forum : Cat Discussion Forums
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post #1 of 13 (permalink) Old 01-16-2005, 05:19 PM Thread Starter
 
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Brand New to Cat "Ownership"

First of all, I have never owned a cat before. I lived with one briefly with friends in college, but that sums up most of my cat experience. I am a "dog person" who married a "cat person," and am the mother of two beautiful princesses, aged 4 and 6 years. I felt that the girls were just old enough to have a "pettable" family pet (we had a bird, but although he was hand-tame, it wasn't quite the same as a cat or dog). On a visit to a local animal shelter to pick up a gift certificate for adoption, a cat fell in love with my youngest daughter, and decided he simply had to come home with us. Later that day, I found myself a new cat owner. That was all about five weeks ago.

Kahn (our cat) is a wonderful little cat, and the vet says he's just around five months old. He has not yet been neutered - we'll be taking him in for that next month. He is extremely affectionate and really seems to enjoy playing with the girls, and watching them play. He's also wonderful company for me after the girls have gone to school. I must say I'm a little surprised at just how much I enjoy sharing a home with him.

Anyhow, lately (meaning increasingly over the past two weeks), Kahn has started biting and scratching more and more when playing "aggressively". He's obviously not actually trying to attack me, and in fact, he almost never so much as grazes his teeth over the girls' skin. He loves to wrap his arms and legs around my arm or leg and "wrestle" around, biting (but not hard enough to break the skin). I assume that this behavior is very natural. I also assume that there's some way to "transfer" the behavior to something other than my limbs.

Oh, by the way, he also often "attacks" feet while we are walking down the stairs. I'm getting really afraid he's going to get himself inadvertently stepped on!

I've read some columns online on this subject, but the advice from columnist to columnist seems extremely varied. I look forward to hearing from actual cat owners who have experienced similar situations. Thanks in advance.
Dusky Jewel is offline  
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post #2 of 13 (permalink) Old 01-16-2005, 05:56 PM
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Welcome to the Cat Forum!! We hope you'll stick around to share your cat adventures with us, and your cat photos!

Everything you described is perfectly normal for a cat interacting with another cat. People are not cats, and they have to learn that biting and scratching, while acceptable play behavior between two cats, is not acceptable with people.

The most effective way to discourage unwanted behavior is to refrain from encouraging it. Cats desire attention, and when they do something to get attention, they will do it again. When your cat bites, say "No!" in a firm strong voice, and immediately stop interacting with the cat. Gently remove your hand or other body part your cat was biting. When the cat stops biting, then reward with praise and petting.

It seems to me that cats have three bites: play bites, warning bites, and aggressive/defensive bites. Only the last of the three is dangerous to human body parts. Learn to distinguish.

Playing with the cat is best done with interactive cat toys, rather than directly with human hands, as you would a dog. Toys on a string or a wand take your hands away from temptation for the cat.

Redirection, as you mentioned is also effective. Particularly with respect to scratching. Cats do need to scratch. Redirect their scratching to a cat scratching post, pad, cat tree or whatever.

There are many good books and articles online for you to educate yourself, as well as browsing through our postings here. This is a particularly good site for information:

http://www.littlebigcat.com/index.php?action=library

Again, welcome, and tell Kahn Rocket says "Hi!"
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post #3 of 13 (permalink) Old 01-16-2005, 05:57 PM
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I hope I can help some...........

Congrats on the new cat, he sounds adorable!! I don't know how much I can be of help but I would suggest getting him a cat tree and some scratchers so he won't want to scratch you guys and get him some toys to play with instead of playing with your hands there are cat wands, balls and fake mice........ I am glad you are going to get him fixed by the way. He sounds like he loves to play you just have to find things that he likes to play with rather than your body parts. Cat trees are great because they are able to climb high up on them and not scratch furniture climbing up, I would suggest if you are open to it and your cat is open to it is getting another cat, because when you are away he will have a friend to play with. Soon your kids will be bigger and will not have time to play with him( I know this from experience) so think about a friend for him . I am sure someone will give you better advice. So I can only say Good luck!!!
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post #4 of 13 (permalink) Old 01-16-2005, 06:21 PM
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Hi and welcome! I'm gald you decided t get a cat, and it sounds like you are too.

Tim's advice is great, and I would like to add to it. Since you have 2 girls and they are young, it may take some time for them to understand what's happening with Kahn's training.

Explain to them WHY they shouldn't let Kahn bite. It's not just dangerous because of scratches, but because you could get sick from it. (cat scratch fever) After explaining that, you will need to carefully explain how they are suposed to act when kitty does this. No hitting or kicking. Say no harshly and walk away. Please don't use a spray bottle. You'll find info about that on the little big cat site.

Good luck. And keep asking questions. Everyone's so helpful here.
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post #5 of 13 (permalink) Old 01-16-2005, 06:37 PM
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I should clarify one thing -- I didn't mean to imply that you shouldn't be handling your cat. Far from it...you should accustom your cat to being handled, especially with young kids in the house. It's just that the cat needs to learn it isn't kitty play. Also that you know it has to be done gradually over a period of time.
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post #6 of 13 (permalink) Old 01-16-2005, 09:07 PM
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Tim - I love your little sig kitty!
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post #7 of 13 (permalink) Old 01-16-2005, 09:10 PM Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for the responses so far. He DOES understand "no." I think we may have been encouraging him, by picking him up and petting him when he attacks our feet/shins. Likewise, I've pretty much trained him TO scurry into the garage when the door is inadvertently left open (our garage is very much NOT cat-friendly), because the first time he did it, I lured him out with kitty treats (I'll take advice on curing this, too).
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post #8 of 13 (permalink) Old 01-16-2005, 09:15 PM Thread Starter
 
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By the way, I'm going to build him a cat tree - I'm just experimenting a little more with different scratching surfaces with him right now. He seems to prefer sisal type surfaces to carpet. We have a particular chair with a seat that's something like sisal, and since I'm going to be making a new seat for it anyhow, I've allowed Kahn to have his way with it. He loves running his claws over the surface, then falling asleep on it. Have I mentioned that he's a little "spoiled"?
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post #9 of 13 (permalink) Old 01-16-2005, 09:58 PM
 
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Congrats on being adopted by a cat! I didn't think I was a cat person either, but Tiger (7 mo) has me wrapped around his little paw.

I have 2 kids, ages 7 and 10. The first thing I've tried to teach the children is to notice when Tiger shows signs of being tired of playing or cuddling. He usually lets out a warning "mew", then he can lay back his ears and get ferocious. My kids have had their share of scratches, but they are learning to be mindful of the kitty's feelings.

On training the cat, the others on this forum are the pro's. Follow all their great advice.

Welcome to the forum and the wonderful world of kitties!
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post #10 of 13 (permalink) Old 01-16-2005, 11:13 PM
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I would advize you don't let him scratch the chair. While you are letting him learn that sisal is ok, you are also letting him learn that scratching that chair is also ok. Once you change the seat, he will continue using it to scratch on. (Past mistake of mine...result = ruined couch)

Take the seat off and lay it on the floor for him.
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