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Oh, those nibbles... AAAAHHHHH!

Sunny

Loyal Servant
#1
Isis is just tasting me for later. That's really the only explanation I have come up with besides just being part of her personality. It might *feel* like a flaw at times, but most of the time it's super cute and I know related to the more wild side of her heritage.

Witnessing how wild cats play around when they are young and how she interacts with the other cats it's exactly this, but more gentle. The fact she has razor like fangs is what makes it hurt a little. I can tell she is restricting this with me by the amount of force exerted on the adult cats during play or when she is baiting them to play. I can't stop handling her on account of this.

Sooooo... will she grow out of this? Will it become easier when her teeth are not needles and better with how to handle excitement and petting?

The love nibbling from Anubis my adult male (Ra doesn't do this) is extremely gentle and sweet despite him gnawing on my fingers or hand with his molars! As in, he opens and turns head sideways in order to chew on me. But he knows the difference between affection and if he wants to get away from me, he only has to shy away or walk away. If you've had pit bull love nibbles where they use their gums and suckle/nibble you, it's exactly like this but with kitten fangs.

I have been completely unsuccessful in training her out of this by denying her attention, distracting her with a toy, taking the same appendage being love nibbled (hand, wrist, forearm, elbow) and pushing her away, scolding verbally, scruffing and moving her, and I think it will just be one of those things she has to grow out of.

Is this just one of those things?
 

Brigitte Cowell

Moderator
Staff member
#2
Personally, I've found that domestic shorthair kittens will do the same thing, and it is up to us to teach them that nipping or nibbling is not appropriate to humans. Maybe some Savannah owners mistakenly allow it because they imagine it is the "wild" heritage rather than just bad kitten behavior...but be warned that any behavior you allow in your kitten may not be so cute when they are adult.
 

Sunny

Loyal Servant
#4
I wasn't alone in this issue, Victoria the breeder was also training her with this problem. If this is truly inherent to some kittens not breed specific, how LONG does it take for all of the above tactics to take hold in a stubborn SV?

When it comes to the counter, when I say DOWN or NO sternly she freaks out a little bit and understands she should not be up there, half the time getting down on her own and gently assisted the rest of the time, letting out the MROWWWWWWWW protest if I pick her up instead of push her off.

When it comes to discipline, she knows who's boss, but hasn't figured out how to get beyond this. Like a human baby testing things with their mouth, I am hoping it sinks in no pun intended. :D

It's been 5 weeks, progress is slow, so thanks for letting me vent!
 

Sunny

Loyal Servant
#5
30 weeks, her teeth are coming in nicely, we brush every day, and I play fetch constantly and she has chew toys for teething too.
 

WitchyWoman

Admin
Staff member
#6
I really think if we all survive the first year of our SVs lives, things do tend to settle down a bit. Not that bad habits necessarily go away, but aren't seen as often -- usually because they're replaced by new bad habits:) They just have a lot to learn that first year -- about being a cat, about humans & their expectations, and about how to live with us. The second year is spent trying to ignore they things they learned that they don't like. The third seems to be when they know they're smarter than us but tend not to stress us so much because they don't want to kill the person who can operate the fridge door.
 

Brigitte Cowell

Moderator
Staff member
#7
I wasn't alone in this issue, Victoria the breeder was also training her with this problem. If this is truly inherent to some kittens not breed specific, how LONG does it take for all of the above tactics to take hold in a stubborn SV?

When it comes to the counter, when I say DOWN or NO sternly she freaks out a little bit and understands she should not be up there, half the time getting down on her own and gently assisted the rest of the time, letting out the MROWWWWWWWW protest if I pick her up instead of push her off.

When it comes to discipline, she knows who's boss, but hasn't figured out how to get beyond this. Like a human baby testing things with their mouth, I am hoping it sinks in no pun intended. :D

It's been 5 weeks, progress is slow, so thanks for letting me vent!
Deborah is right, maybe she needs something to chew on... you can even try the Petstages puppy teething toys and see if she likes them I would think. Raw chicken bones can be great for this too.

How long can it take? For some kittens it takes only a couple "nuh uh!"s or "no!"s to get them to cooperate, and some are more persistent. Just like human children I imagine...

One thing that may hamper progress is if you try to enforce too many "rules"...there came a time in our Katie's kittenhood where I am sure she thought her name was "Katie, NOOOO!" and I think sometimes that can be counter-productive...so if you think that might be the case choose your battles wisely and limit the behaviors you try to correct.
 

Sunny

Loyal Servant
#8
This is not a lack of chew items issue, you would be shocked at the number of toys they have. :p She has two sets of two Petstage loop and triangle, plus another thirty toys belonging to all of them used for fetch made of stuffed cloth, burlap, feathers, bells, fluff, and shoelaces not counting squeaky mice, catnip mice, Da Bird and refills and what's still in the wrapper in storage (another two or three dozen unopened replacements, aka the stash).

When it comes to play time, it's with an object and never with body parts, not even stretching out a socked foot or "mouse" games under the blankets. I even limit my hide-and-seek so she doesn't stalk me but we race each other up and down the stairs if I am moving between downstairs and upstairs.

She is really learning, I am just grappling with the persistent, seemingly hardwired behavior.

My favorite time of the afternoon was an hour ago. Going home to feed them and grab lunch, all are there greeting me with wiggle bottoms (shifty tails and horse prancing) and meows. Against my hand, she rubs her nose, both sides of her face, her nose once or twice more, and then she either a) gently touches her side teeth to my hand and pulls away usually gurgling a meow, b) about to touch teeth and realizes its bad behavior and pulls back, or c) as part of a meow, goes to grasp with teeth and I need to pull away and scold.

She'll learn. I can see her little mind working, when she goes to bite and pull away, she usually twitches one ear back because I tense up or she expects a scolding.

Counter is "DOWN" and biting is "NO BITING" and fighting has not happened yet, but I have yelled "OWWWWW!" if she swiped at a toy I was picking up to throw and hooked a claw into me. That !@#& hurts so this usually makes her step back a few steps.
 

Sunny

Loyal Servant
#9
Its been a long time since I've had a kitten around so my memory of dealing with this has been dulled with time and I never had close to the same level of interaction from domestics that were so laid back or bonded to someone else, so I had to push them to get pissy and actually bite, over excite, pet a forbidden spot like a belly or chin. If I was chomped on by a kitten, it was short lived and I don't remember. Anubis and Ra came home at 6 months of age just like her and already through their teething stage, nibbles were never an issue.
 

Brigitte Cowell

Moderator
Staff member
#10
From what you describe there when you are coming home to feed them, it sounds like over-excitement or over-stimulation. I do think that some cats are just more orally fixated so tend to grab with the mouth and when excited don't have the normal inhibitions they should have...