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We adopted a 2 year old cat 3 weeks ago who is very affectionate/friendly, but when there are times when she doesn't want to be disturbed snaps by clawing or biting.

She doesn't take well to getting scolded (ie: the word "no' gets a rise out of her). If we try to cut her nails her reaction is to bite/scratch the moment we touch her paws. If she's on top of a kitchen stable and gently sway her off of it her reaction is to strike back and growl. If she gets her long nails caught on furniture and we try to help her she bites.

We've never dealt with this before and it can be frightening. Other than the Defensive aggression she's been OK. Thoughts?
 

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You'll work through it as she gains both confidence in you and the knowledge that you are in charge of certain things (like food). All of my cats (past and present) have been at best adopted and, at worst, feral when I first ahd contact with them. Some of them (very thankfully not all and none at present) have had this problem and have worked through it - just don't panic and don't over-react.
 

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It varied but a matter of a few months even in the worst case (a feral who was very food desperate because of previous experiences).
 

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It sounds as if there may have been some abuse in her past. If "No" triggers biting, use something else in a pleasant voice, like "come here". Teach her to come by enticing her with treats. Then substitute some treats with praise or petting, but still give treats occasionally. If here claws get caught in something, drape a towel over her while freeing the claw. Talk to her reassuringly that you're trying to help her. As for trimming her claws, try and do a couple when she's asleep, and stop if she objects, praise her and always give her treats after clipping. Hopefully she'll understand having her claws clipped as something pleasant. My two jump up on the bathroom vanity as soon as they see me with the clippers, as they're looking forward to getting the treats. afterward.
 
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