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Romeo is 2 or 3 years old (he was dumped so his exact age/history are unknown), and has lived with us for about 10 months.

When we got him, he would bite when he got overstimulated (which happens frequently if you pet him on his back half pretty much at all). We've mostly trained him to not bite anymore, but now if you pet his back end (or if he gets otherwise overstimulated) he'll whip his head around, look at your hand, and bare his teeth.

We sometimes have friends (with kids) at our house, and this can be a scary looking behavior! I'd prefer that he just walk away (the kids are trained to not corner the cats and not bother them if they walk away).

How can I train him to move away when overstimulated?

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  • I think training the kids that this is his way of saying "stop that" will be faster and easier, and will stand them in good stead when dealing with other animals, or people for that matter. "No means no." – keshlam Jun 3 '15 at 14:23
  • @keshlam I'm worried about how the kids will react (some of them are pretty young). I don't want them to scream and startle Romeo further. – Zaralynda Jun 3 '15 at 14:26
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    Warn them in advance. Unlike Romeo, they should understand spoken words. If they pester him anyway, that's a Learning Experience. – keshlam Jun 3 '15 at 14:45
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You can try to classically condition him by spraying him with a squirt bottle any time you see him baring his teeth at you or the kids. It's really important that you only do this when he is doing the actions because if you squirt him after he's done baring his teeth he won't understand why. Sometimes you can fill a squirt bottle with vinegar (although you may want to start with water and see how he reacts) which cats typically really hate and he should learn fairly quickly. It should get to a point where you can just show him the squirt bottle and he'll stop this negative behavior. Eventually after enough time has passed this behavior should go away all together.

In the mean time I'd warn the kids prior and make sure that they don't put the cat in an uncomfortable situation that makes him want to display this negative behavior.

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  • I don't use negative reinforcement with my cats – Zaralynda Jun 4 '15 at 2:03
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    Most cats really don't like being petted on top of their back near their tail so if you are not comfortable using negative reinforcement then the best thing to do may be to avoid petting him there in any capacity. Try just sticking to this head and upper back as well as his neck and maybe his stomach if he's open to that. – Katie Hurley Jun 4 '15 at 2:16

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