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So I recently adopted two new kittens, both of which are remarkably well behaved for their ages and breeds. The only real problem I have is with the male, a black cat that's a mix of Maine Coon and domestic short hair. He is obsessed with touching my skin, even burrowing under blankets to get a paw against me, which isn't bad except that he always digs his claws into me once he has contact. Everytime, without fail, he gets a paw on me and digs them in with a death grip. He isn't kneading; there is no release. It's more like he is trying to hold onto me to save his life.

I've been trying for three months to stop this behavior. I've moved his paws away before he can extend the claws, picked him up and moved him, squirted him, told him 'no' which is the word he and his sister are picking up easily for things like 'don't jump on the counter' and 'wait until I put the food in the bowl before you ambush me', and try to keep his claws as short as possible without hurting him, but he will not stop digging his claws in. I've done my best to keep every wound clean since he almost always draws blood, but a couple did get infected and I can't allow that because of a health issue. I don't want to get rid of him, but I am at my wits end with his claws. Is there anything else I can try to train him to not make me bleed just because he's happy we're cuddling?

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  • Does he retract his claws if you touch the back of his paw? That works for my cats, but they often just start kneading without realizing it.
    – Elmy
    Jan 14 at 15:00
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I think what you're describing sounds possibly abnormal. Cats might extend their claws some while cuddling, but not to my experience so hard that they consistently draw blood even when their claws are properly trimmed, and there is no other reason for it like, they feel like they're falling, or they're trying to swat you because something upset them. My recommendation is to take video of an incident, and show it to a vet.

But, if this really is just normal behavior for this cat, then my recommendation is when the cat gets into position to do what it normally does, to stop it before it gets a chance to do its thing, by picking up the cat and putting it on the floor. Perhaps over time the cat will change its behavior, but at any rate stopping it will prevent more incidents. Unfortunately, this might mean the cat has fewer opportunities to cuddle with you, but in my opinion more cuddling isn't really worth getting more injured. I would also see if you can encourage it to cuddle in a different position in which it doesn't do this behavior. At any rate, I'm guessing the cat doesn't have much conscious control over this behavior, so trying to correct it with negative reinforcement like spraying it won't be very effective.

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    Besides putting it down vocalizing your pain loudly might also send the message you want. Just like another cat would scream in annoyance.
    – SerenaT
    Jan 13 at 21:31
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In my experience, my cat also loves playing with me with his claws, well, she doesn't dig them on my arms but she always make some cuts on me and my mother when she plays with us. It's natural for the cats to play like that, trying to catch your hand just for fun and suddenly using a bit too much force on their claws.

My suggestion is that you can take him to the pet shop and ask for cutting low the claws, then next time it won't hurt you or anyone else he plays with his claws.

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