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Am I scaring my kitten?

MattM

Savannah Super Cat
#1
My savannah and I have developed a great relationship over the past month. He constantly wants my attention and to be in my presence to the extreme, which is not typical for most cats. I know it's not recommended, but I play pretty tough with my kitten with my bare hands. He rarely ever harms me to a point where it causes pain, and if he does I usually draw back and make sure he knows that he has crossed the line. However, tonight he showed some behavior I haven't seen from him.

My 11 week old Savannah typically gets REALLY excited, eats, and then crashes back to sleep. Tonight was no exception, except he went more crazy than usual. This might be a little strange, but I often get on the floor with him and his toys. Tonight, however, he started to stalk me like prey. He would be on the complete opposite side of the room, curl up like a snake, and slowly approach me. Once he got close enough, he would charge and bite me gently on my arm or paw at my face without claws. Often times running in a weird sideways gallop that was hilarious. He also would get right up in my face, start meowing and looking all cute, and then strike me in my face after he thought I had dropped my defense (insanely smart). I kind of thought it was fun, and he looked like he was having fun too, but his "snake" like defensive stance was so intense, I thought maybe the way we were playing was scaring him. A little later he calmed down, and became his normal self again seeking attention rather than trying to hunt me down around the apartment. I can't believe I was running away from my cat. Here are some picture. So....is this normal? Healthy?
 

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DChap

Site Supporter
#2
I say all completely normal, but as you say him biting your bare hands and also swatting at your face is not recommended and could become a problem later. BTW he is adorable :)
 

MattM

Savannah Super Cat
#3
I say all completely normal, but as you say him biting your bare hands and also swatting at your face is not recommended and could become a problem later. BTW he is adorable :)
Yeah I agree. He is in complete control of himself right now, but it is a slippery slope. And thanks!
 

Mr. Twister

Savannah Super Cat
#4
I would never encourage biting behavior in a young cat, savannah or DSH. Its like teaching a child that violence is OK, then getting angry when they grow up and act violently. I would stop right away.
 

SV Dad

Savannah Super Cat
#5
I've seen those faces before. You got yourself a savannah! John Popp and I have brothers, and we are both forever having a tough time to discourage them stalking the other cats. You are describing stalking behaviors.
Yes, these cats are highly intelligent. Game on for you Matt! I agree with the others that is probably is not a good idea to encourage biting and roughness. He will grow to be a more than a handful in just a few months. There are a few stories (I think John Popp has one of them) of the cats climbing their humans. Be very careful what you encourage.
 

WitchyWoman

Admin
Staff member
#6
He's playing with you as though you are a another cat. I agree with the rest that you need to set boundaries on behavior to encourage the good ones and discourage the bad ones. That sideways tail fluffed skitter is his way of trying to make himself look bigger and more intimidating to a large opponent. Normal behavior and pretty cute.

All the energy of a kitten needs to go somewhere and play is the outlet. But he can get overstimulated and challenge the boundaries you set. That's when you either walk away and let him calm down or put him in a quiet room for a bit.

As he matures, he'll grow through many behavioral changes including challenging anyone in the house for the dominant position so you need to stay in charge.
 

Jacq

Savannah Super Cat
#7
In my opinion, using body parts as toys when playing with a kitten is a very BAD idea. As a 3 pound kitten, it's cute, but when a 20 pound adult cat slaps you or bites you, it's not so cute anymore. PLEASE use a toy that is not a body part to play with him. That way he will learn that hands and faces are only for petting and kisses.
 

Niels

Savannah Super Cat
#8
Those are pretty awesome pictures.

When i was around the age of 10 years i also had a cat who played with me like a cat.
We always were sneaking up on each other from behind the couch.
Then he always runs in the opposite direction and jumpted on me.
He never hurted me a single time.
From the moment i started spying on him, he knows it is playtime.

I tried to do it with themba but he got really mad when i looked at him like that lol.
I tried it with every cat i get but no cat gets it.

I wouldn't do those games with a savannah.
 

NikkiA

Site Supporter
#9
He is adorable. My boys play the same way with each other.

They do sometimes stalk us, and they did pounce on us as kittens, but as others have said it is a good idea to get the nipping and slapping under control early. Pouncing (with claws in) is one thing, but nipping and slapping can get way out of hand.
D will be 2 in July, and when he was a baby he would tap me/slap me to get my attention. D still does this when he wants my attention and he thinks I am ignoring him. Mostly when I am sleeping and he wants to wake me up (claws in, and gently, but still no fun at 3 AM). I am the only person I know who gets slapped across the face by their cat on a daily basis, while the cat purrs at them.
 

Brigitte Cowell

Moderator
Staff member
#10
I would never encourage biting behavior in a young cat, savannah or DSH. Its like teaching a child that violence is OK, then getting angry when they grow up and act violently. I would stop right away.
Exactly, by playing rough with the kitten with your hands you are telling him it is okay to leap and wrestle with you like you are another cat....hence the stalking and more extreme behavior that worries you. You are creating a monster that when he is grown up will be a problem. As he grows older, the roughness will increase, he's going to want to assert dominance in play before long.

We have had such cats into Rescue, big 20lb cats that think playing rough with humans (AND children) is okay... and that makes for a scary cat. They are VERY hard to rehome, they take a lot of patience and training once adult to teach to play appropriately with humans.

Just remember that not only is that cute behavior not cute when they grow up, but what you find amusing in behavior a guest might not, especially if the guest is a toddler.

I know that sounds harsh and negative... but I do rescue and see the results of people thinking there is no harm in teaching a cat that there is no boundaries...which is what you are doing by allowing them to play with your hands etc with their paws and teeth.