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My 4 year old male Maine Coon jumps on and scratches my face when I'm sleeping, an awful way to wake up. In the dark he might view my head as prey. Besides closing the bedroom door is there any way to stop this aggressive behavior?

  • As he's four years old, my first question is, is this a new behaviour (I'm assuming that you've had him from a kitten - perhaps incorrectly!). If you have had him for the past four years, is there anything that's changed that might have prompted this new behaviour? Whilst cats are somewhat inexplicable (which is half the appeal!), there's usually always a good reason for any behavioural trait they show :) – Rob Sep 12 '15 at 21:33
  • My cat did the same last night. I did not weak up but there are scratches on my cheek :(. I know what he wants - attention and being petted. It is not agression but he has no idea how sharp his claws are. – ladybug Dec 14 '16 at 13:17
  • My cat does this too. He has a high prey drive and often stays out all night hunting. However, he likes to come in sometimes in the middle of the night, but always first thing. He lies on my chest in bed, nuzzles my face, sucks on a scarf we have for him, purrs loudly and is lovely for about 10-15 mins. Then his eyes go black, he makes a strange squeak and pounces on my head! He digs his claws into my scalp and bites too. I yelp, he gets off and onto the floor... from where he proceeds to pounce up from the floor onto my head, attacking me again!!! Today he got on the bedside cupboard (he ofte – Trish Jan 27 '17 at 7:18
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I can think it two possible explanations for your cat's behavior. One is in your sleep you are doing something the cat doesn't like, and so naturally responds with clawing. The other is that cats are nocturnal animals, and so your cat may be getting bored, lonely, hungry, or thirsty at night, and clawing you is very effective at waking you up.

I recommend making extra sure the cat is well provided for during the night. Water and food (if you feed it at that time) full. Plenty of toys, scratchers, and entertainment. Litter box clean.

Unfortunately, it may be that the cat is just seeking attention, or you are annoying it in your sleep. I can't think of a solution to that beyond shutting the cat out of your room at night. It's much easier to discipline the cat to stop scratching at the door than it is to discipline it to not claw at you for you to wake up, especially since the cat is automatically rewarded by the clawing while you're asleep.

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I gave mine a soft but firm slap on the head, just enough to show who is boss but not hard enough to hurt it, as well as yell at it. The cat has not done it since, and the cat is still affectionate.

The cat sees you as a big cat and your hand is a big claw; because you're bigger you cat will back down and accept that you are the master.

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I had a cat from kitten age that did this also. It would walk along the back of the couch and pounce on heads, pounce on heads sleeping in beds, pounce on your back in the middle of the night...

I lived in the country and the cat was an indoor/outdoor cat (free access). I was young at the time and inexperienced in cat training. The behavior continued through all of the cat's (short) life. I believe the instinct that drove the behavior lead to an untimely demise through miss adventure.

My answer is that it maybe possible to train away this behavior, and it may not. If it is I can't tell you how. There are some behaviors that cannot be modified with casual training, and the investment for intensive training may be more than you want to invest.

In the case of your cat, I would recommend not allowing it outside. I would expect a negative impact on other animals in the area, until your cat picks on something a bigger, faster and stronger then it's self (besides you).

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The best way to deal with cat attacks like this are to cry out loudly in pain. This tells the cat that they hurt you and that you disapprove of the attack. If you and your cat have a good relationship, they won't want to hurt you. Cats don't like loud noises so crying out will also help train the cat not to attack.

Does he attack you at all during the day? Is the cat otherwise sweet and affectionate with you?

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Of course there is a way. In fact there is a way for everything, just with different level of complexity.

Most of the cats (in that count Maine Coon) love sleeping with the owner. Doing that, it is very unlikely that it will "jump and scratch your face".

Alternatively, you can simply teach him/her to explicitly not do so. However, you must understand that animals base actions on instincts, thus you must somehow influence danger after her doing that to you and/or joy after NOT doing that to you.

Also, what makes you think it is because of "aggressive behavior" ? It looks like a cat's catchy game to me.. besides, everyone know that cats could be very active during the night.

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I am a 61 year old person and have had 5 Maine Coons kitties at various times through my family’s life. I tried to lay a foundation of love, distraction if necessary (kinda like kids....rather not scold, but let’s enjoy something new and fun! Like a catnip homemade sock). I now have an 11 year old Maine Coon heavyweight who has been endulged and adored by my family since we brought him to his Old Orchard home at 8 weeks old. He fit in one hand when we brought him home. Now my lap on nail-trimming day is a snuggle of a fit he and I respectively attend to every month. Now, he pets me awake every morning. He pats my hair while purring, and pets my eyes and cheeks and chin. I typically “play possum” while my 21 pound mouser cat gently wakes me up. Cats can actually gently pet their beloved family with love. He dispatches any varmints quickly! But he pets my eyes and face exactly the way I pet my sweet Coonie.

Please be gentle and loving with your cat or kitten. They have a great capacity to return kindness and love. Please don’t ever swat, hit or yell at a kitten.

My “pet” goal on my bucket list was for one cat to have a beloved life. Too many animals are unloved or abused. A beloved pet petting you back every morning on your face is, for me, a sign Heaven exists on earth. My daily gratitudes begin with a Maine Coonie wrapping his big paws around my face.

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