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I got my cat when he was one month old from a shelter. Ironically I picked him because he did not bite me.

Once we got home it changed. He would stalk me at night as I slept and bite my face/nose (not a pleasant way to wake up). Stalking my feet from under the bed became a norm so much to where I would have to run and jump onto the bed to avoid his bite, though most of the time he would jump after me. I got a spray bottle to shake which would deter him and still does but unless I’m holding it he will still try to bite.

He is sweet, playful, and so curious too. Not afraid of anyone and all my friends love how outgoing he is, but the more he gets to know someone the more comfortable and aggressive he becomes toward them.

He is the worst toward me though. I often have teeth marks on my arms, legs, and hands. I can admit sometimes his aggression makes sense, like if I’m moving in a way that entices him, but sometimes it’s random or from anger. I will be sitting on my couch not moving and he will leap up and latch onto my arm or leg. And I mean latch, sometimes I have to pry his mouth open. Other times he will go cry for a treat and I will say no or ignore him because it is his 20th treat of the day and as I walk away he will latch onto the back of my leg.

I have gotten to the point where I am extremely angry with him. I give him lots of toys and play time but it does not matter, sometimes it even worsens it. I have tried all the walk away and don’t engage tricks but I can’t walk away because he will continue attacking. I have gotten to the point of hitting him to get him off me or throwing him off. I know that is not right to do and honestly when I do it he just likes to come back even angrier.

I am just looking to see if anyone has ever experienced something like this in an animal. I’ve tried every online help blog there is and can’t find something that works. I love my cat and will honestly put up with the biting forever, but I would love if I didn’t have to. The other thing is he only bites, never hisses, never growls, and never scratches.

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    How old is he now? And is he neutered? Dec 8, 2021 at 9:31
  • How did you introduced the cat at your home? Dec 8, 2021 at 12:06
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    Is it any specific breed? Or a random mix?
    – virolino
    Dec 8, 2021 at 12:32
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    Stop hitting your cat.
    – ribs2spare
    Dec 8, 2021 at 19:37
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    I suggest: buy him the smallest chew bones out there, for little dogs. He can bite them and chew them. My cat loves them. Also, it is important that a cat have a high place to go to at home. Does your cat have high places to go? If not, build one or buy a tower. Keep the spray bottle handy and just show it to him. There are also natural, calming herbs. You have to research that.
    – Lambie
    Dec 8, 2021 at 22:38

5 Answers 5

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This definitely feels like play aggression. Your strategies for dealing with it should revolve around anticipating it and preventing it before the cat gets around to biting you by getting its energy out in acceptable ways first.

Play with your cat a lot more.

The more you can tire your cat out, the less energy it will have for biting you. The standard way is interactive play sessions. A cat wand toy is particularly good for this because it's always in your hand, so there's no downtime where you have to go fetch the toy, and the wand will keep the cat at a safe distance from you. You can and should put a lot of energy into really getting the wand toy going. The more energetic you make the toy, the more energy the cat will have to use to catch it. These play sessions are best around meal times, as that's typically when cats are the most active. Cats tend to play in a short burst, followed by some resting and watching, then another burst. Make sure you really tire the cat out to the point where it has no interest left. The cat should then go to sleep.

There are also possible alternatives to interactive play, such as leash training your cat or clicker training your cat (which it sounds like your cat might respond to really well because it's already very treat motivated.)

You could even get another cat, though another cat could possibly create complications. They may or may not get along, and the other cat may or may not be happy to play with your existing cat. It's pretty hard to tell sometimes when introducing a new cat how they will interact.

Always toys, never hands.

It's very important to never play with your cat using your hands, feet, or what have you, so the cat will have less of an association of your hands with play. Always use toys to play with your cat instead. If the cat tries to go for your hands or feet, try to make them more boring by ignoring it, or even try making a "yipe" sort of noise, as if you are in pain, which hopefully the cat will respond to by letting go. Some cats are naturally very gentle when playing with others, but your cat clearly is not, and should be always discouraged from playing with humans in this way.

Redirect your cat.

Always keep a toy in your pocket and ready. This could be something the cat can pounce on and wrestle with, or you could even try a laser pointer. Keep tabs on your cat, especially when you are doing an activity that you notice it tends to pounce on you. Look for signs the cat is getting ready to pounce: the cat starts to get tense, it hunkers down, it might wiggle its butt, or its eyes dilate. When you notice those behaviors, get out your distraction toy. Do it right, and your cat will go for the toy and ignore you.

Keep the cat away when necessary.

For those times you really cannot pay attention to your cat, like you are sleeping, or you need full concentration on work, it is okay to simply shut your cat out of the room. Just make sure your cat is being well entertained when you do have time, so it is not being neglected. The cat will probably not like this, and may attempt to make noises at the door. Try to ignore these noises, or if it's really necessary, you can get a motion activated air sprayer and leave it just outside your door. Cats hate these and avoid them, so the cat should learn to leave the door alone when it's closed.

Fix "danger zones."

What I mean by "danger zone" is an area or circumstance where the cat particularly acts out this bad habit. A good example of a "danger zone," is under the bed, where it lies in wait for you to walk by, then it ambushes you. Currently, you run and jump on the bed to avoid this, but I suspect this is not a good approach, because it makes it look like you are playing, which reinforces the behavior. Instead, what I suggest is blocking the cat's access to under the bed entirely. That way it can no longer play this inappropriate game. Similarly, think of any other go-to methods for the cat to "attack" you, and make it impossible for the cat to continue.

Though it hurts, never hit the cat.

At best, your reaction to hit the cat is probably encouraging it to continue because it looks to the cat like you are responding to its playing. At worst, you are actually hurting it. Try your best to ignore the cat when it actually does bite you, and make yourself as boring as possible, or as I stated earlier, try making a "yipe" noise, if you know your cat responds to that. I also recommend if you can to wear long pants and sleeves, so it will hurt less when the cat tries to bite.

Though normally I don't think a squirt bottle is an effective way to discipline, this is a circumstance where it can help to get the cat off you when it is hurting you in a way that definitely won't harm the cat nor accidentally encourage it. See if you can find one that is small enough to fit in your pocket and doesn't leak. However, this should be a last resort only, as using the squirt bottle too much might damage your relationship with the cat. You should be relying on the various measures I've described first to prevent the biting before it ever occurs. If you find yourself using the squirt gun quite often, you should redouble your efforts in prevention.

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  • What cats do when play hurts is a high-pitched kitten-like "mew!" (like tapping out). When my cat starts chewing on a finger (should have had cat toys...), I slowly start feeding him the finger -- he starts choking on it and gets the message. Dec 9, 2021 at 1:07
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    "Play with your cat a lot more." - this more than anything, especially with kittens and younger cats. They are full of energy and they need an outlet for it - they need to hunt. Mornings and evenings before feeding time are the best times for play since that's when cats are most active. This lets them "feel" a hunt which is followed up by a meal - then they chill out because their work is done. Interactive puzzle feeders, labyrinths, etc, for dry food also help to keep them busy during the day with a foraging activity.
    – J...
    Dec 9, 2021 at 15:52
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“Attacking” like this is how cats play; they are practicing their hunting skills, and ideally they learn through playing with their litter mates how to initiate play, how rough to play, and when to stop play.

In one of your comments, you mention he was separated from his litter young and lived with a dog who didn’t resist or fight back when the cat attacked, which probably messed up his socialization. He didn’t learn when he was being too rough

Now that the dog is gone, in his mind that leaves you to fill the role of prey (or chew toy), and he’s confused about why you aren’t reacting the way the dog did.

Start by redirecting his hunting to toys he can attack and maul at will, such as feather wands and plush chew toys. If you can, work him to the point of panting with the feather wand or other toys that will encourage him to run and jump a lot, which should buy you a few hours of peace.

Longer term, I would suggest getting another cat, preferably one already large enough to fight back when needed (i.e. not a kitten or a small/timid adult) and teach him some manners.

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We had a cat who would chomp down on you once. It was very bothersome, in and of itself, but also because you didn't know when the penny would drop and it would not be "chomp" but rather "rip and tear" and because we couldn't see a reason why.

We'd even have it happen when petting her and everything else indicated she was a happy kitty. Then out of the blue...

Years before, we'd had three ferrets. The most lovely, loving creatures you could imagine. It was utterly surprising to me a few years after they'd passed away to hear folks who'd had ferrets talking about being constantly nipped and bitten. Ours (all three) had never done anything of the kind.

One day when Piewacket nipped me and I scolded her, it occurred to me that it might be exactly what the ferret people had been talking about. They all said the ferrets clearly did it as a mark of... love? Happiness? Contentment? Pleasure? Take your pick, but you get the idea.

The next time Piewacket nipped me, instead of scolding her, I just stopped and carefully withdrew my hand, then gave her a quick last pet and a "love you," got up, and walked away. Kept on with that and over a few months found she nipped less, would never do it hard or middling hard anymore, and would even stop as she started to do so.

No idea about the "hunting" part, vis-a-vis her. She was quite old, maybe 17 from the shelter's records, when we got her, and past her hide under beds or in hallway doors and lunge out to get you stage. I did have a cat from kitten-hood once, and she certainly did that, but she never nipped except to express clear displeasure (we were kids, so that wasn't out of the norm any given day).

In any case, it could be something to consider. Worked for us, and yours and she had in common that they were very affectionate and it would occur even when you thought she was very happy. I believe, in fact, that it was because she was very happy. Same, apparently, for ferrets, usually. And the two are said to not be all that far apart on the species tree.

(By the way, not on point, but... since I've mentioned ferrets... the huge problem with ferrets is not anything behavioral, that's all likely part of their charm to someone who wants them, nor the fact they love companions so you need 2-3 or so. The huge problem is that their urine and feces are very much just like a human's, especially how they smell, and if you don't clean after them immediately, it's like having baby diapers left open and steaming, all around. Even if just in their habitat, it is bad. If you can't do the cleaning, you will be miserable so...)

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    Welcome to Pets.SE! I feel like there might be a good answer in here, but to be honest, there's so much cruft that I can't quite sort it out. Unfortunately, it comes across as a wall of text about ferrets, not anything useful. Would you mind tightening it up a bit so your answer is clear and easy to read?
    – Allison C
    Dec 8, 2021 at 22:04
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    How hard would your cat bite? Mine usually punctures me to the point of bleeding or bruising. I don’t know if that is similar to what you experienced. I ask because the pull away method is kind of hard when he is latched on me. I don’t know if the way you composed yourself seemed to be what would make your cat release?
    – Alex R
    Dec 8, 2021 at 22:33
  • I had a ferret that was a biter. It was his sole purpose in life to latch onto your inner writs bone just below the thumb. He'd bite the other three ferrets too. And there was no 'carefully removing' him. He WAS NOT happy. Re. the smell: (walks in the house) So, how old is your newborn? -eh, I don't have kids....
    – Mazura
    Dec 9, 2021 at 8:38
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Some good answers so far.

We had a tortie that was sometimes a little aggressive. We we got her a small but solid stuffed animal to attack and when she seemed to be in a rough play mood, we'd sort of wag it around really fast like fanning a flame, and then throw it along the ground. She'd chase after it and grab onto it and bunny kick the living fluff out of it for a few minutes. We'd then go get it and repeat to the other side of the room. That thing had all sorts of puncture marks on it but the running and attacking seemed to tame the beast within. Followed with food or a couple of the rationed treats really fit the whole kill-eat-sleep model that cats do.

Maybe giving your cat something to "kill" might help it stop trying to kill you.

I'm also surprised a spray bottle isn't quite working, especially if you're spraying it on "stream" mode and directly at it's face (tho not too close obviously). I'm all for not being unnecessarily cruel, but geez, I don't think this little bugger quite understands the pain you're in, and I'm not sure that you can always "bite back". A little water in the face from a few feet away is potentially less harmful than having to physically pull/push it away forcefully.

If that's not working, I agree, a loud high pitch yip as you look into its eyes, or maybe even a whistle might freak it out enough to scatter. Unfortunately, a downside to the whistle can be if the cat is really dug into you, those nails might hurt as they're ripped from your flesh when it flees the scene.

Anything to basically make the cat associate biting with not being fun for either of you without actually hurting it.

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  • That something I will definitely try thanks! Also I just want to clarify that I don’t hit or throw him as a punishment. It just due to the pain and trying to get him to let go and the only times it’s happened it when I am startled by it. When he really gets me from behind it’s like a reflex to push him off, kind of like it’s his instinct to bite it’s mine to stop the pain. I do not condone hurting animals to punish them. It is because I have gotten so reactive to his bites that I am seaking out help.
    – Alex R
    Dec 9, 2021 at 7:20
  • @Alex R: Ah, that's fair. Sorry, didn't mean to imply you did it maliciously. I can see where you're coming from, cat attacks can be quite unpleasant. I'll edit to be a little more considerate of the situation.
    – coblr
    Dec 9, 2021 at 20:41
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Here are a few suggestions.

Since the cat attacks your feet when you go to bed, you could try putting on one or more pairs of long and thick socks when you change to go to bed, hoping it will protect your feet and ankles. And if you don't like wearing socks in bed, you can take them off once your feet are under the covers, and toss them at the cat for it to chase.

Or maybe wear thick, furry, tall, bedroom slippers when you go to bed and keep them on until you are sitting in bed ready to pull the covers over you. And maybe then toss them for the cat to chase.

If the cat sometimes bites your hands when you play with it, you might try wearing gloves, as thick and protective as doesn't interfere with your desterity. They might protect your hands.

And possibly you might want to spray those socks, slippers, and gloves with something bad tasting to cats.

Since the cat likes to hide on the bed and pounce on you, you might want to kept the blankets etc. lifted up and lying on the top of the bed, so that there are no dangling blankets for the cat to hide in ambush behind. Or you might want to put boxes of stuff under your bed to fill up the space so the cat can't squeeze in, or pounce on you fast if it does squeeze in.

You say that the cat likes to bite your nose when you are sleeping. I don't know how confortable you are with masks, but if you don't mind sleeping with a mask you could sleeping with one to protect your nose, preferably one sprayed with something that tastes bad to cats.

If you couldn't sleep wearing a mask, but sleep in the same position all night without moving much, you could get a clear plastic faceguard and put it on your head when you go to bed. If the cat tries to move the faceguard so it can get at your nose to bite you, that should wake you up before the cat can bite.

Or you could lock the cat out of your bedroom at night. When I was a kid we had a cat that liked to bite my nose in the morning. I don't remember doing anything to stop it except closing my door at night.

You could try making leg and arm armor out of flexible plastic, like the face guards mentioned above. If you want to spend more money, maybe consider buying pieces of costome medieval armor.

Other answers suggest a number of possible actions. You should select the suggestions you most like and try them first. If they don't work, try other suggestions until you try something that works.

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