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play aggression

kittykitty

Savannah Super Cat
Hello all,

My 6 month old F3 has a really bad habit of playing aggressively with me. I never play with him using my hands. Sometimes he will hide and grab my hand or foot and wrap his body around it. When he feels really rowdy he will even kick with his claws out as if my hand or foot is his prey, leaving light scratch marks on me at times. He often play bites hands as well, but never hard at all. His attacks happen pretty spontaneously so it is hard to prevent them since they come out of no where.

Elmo is a very loving cat and I know he isn't attacking me or people who come visit, but he is trying to play. Is this normal behavior? What is the best way to get him to stop aggressively jumping on people like they are prey?

It wouldn't be so bad if he only did it to me, but for the most part he rarely behaves this way with me but almost always aggressively plays with visitors.
 

Brigitte Cowell

Moderator
Staff member
Is Elmo an only kitty? It sounds like he's in need of a kitty companion to be able to grab and wrestle with maybe?
 

Patti

Admin
Staff member
Is Elmo neutered? If not, hormones may be playing a part here.

I know there is a faction that supports no negative feedback and would encourage you to distract him, but attacking visitors IMHO is a huge problem that can potentially get you and Elmo into a lot of trouble. I would scruff him, say NO loudly, and immediately lock him in a room alone or in a crate for about five minutes. If he does it again, keep him locked up until the visitors are gone.
 

WitchyWoman

Admin
Staff member
Does he get enough attention and play time from you and/or the rest of the family? If he's alone during the day, you may want to consider trying to enrich the environment -- adding cat trees, a bird feeder by a winder, videos of birds on the TV. If you can't get him a companion to keep him company, you'll need to find ways to satisfy his need for play and attention.

Try squirting bitter apple on your hands or feet when he goes after them to try deter the behavior.
 

kittykitty

Savannah Super Cat
Is Elmo neutered? If not, hormones may be playing a part here.

I know there is a faction that supports no negative feedback and would encourage you to distract him, but attacking visitors IMHO is a huge problem that can potentially get you and Elmo into a lot of trouble. I would scruff him, say NO loudly, and immediately lock him in a room alone or in a crate for about five minutes. If he does it again, keep him locked up until the visitors are gone.

Elmo is neutered. The problem is that when I tell guests not to pet his stomach when he rolls over they do it anyways and get aggressively attacked for it.

I have tried scruffing him and saying no loudly but I can't do it when he attacks strangers if I am far away. Even when I can do it, scruffing him usually makes him more aggressive.

I have tried clapping and that usually makes him release immediately but I would really like to stop the behavior all together.


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Pam Flachs

Savannah Super Cat
At 6 months old, Elmo might well be going through a growth spurt. In my experience, this can mean he is hungry or his hormones are kicking in...if he is not neutered yet.

Try feeding him before you expect visitors. Raw beef chunks worked well for my 4-7 month old boys exhibiting the same behavior as Elmo...and if he is not neutered...get that done asap!

I also agree with other suggestions he might need an equally active playmate, additional playtime and a firm NO and scruffing and removal away from visitors, even crating or in a room alone if need be.

You also need to never let Elmo have any chance at playing or biting at your hands...none at all, even softly...nip that habit in the bud right now by offering a stuffed toy to bite and kick instead, and walk away from him. Don't let him even begin nipping or kicking at your hands....if he does, immediately scruff him and tell him "NO" loudly and firmly and set him down facing away from you. Walk away from him at this time and ignore him. He will soon learn that is not acceptable behavior, but you must set the boundaries sooner than later....
 

kittykitty

Savannah Super Cat
Is Elmo an only kitty? It sounds like he's in need of a kitty companion to be able to grab and wrestle with maybe?

He is an only kitty. I have brought him to my parents house, there are 4 other animals (2 cats and 2 dogs) but he still plays aggressively with me and my family despite having companions.

In my opinion, which could be completely wrong, Elmo just doesn't understand that this behavior is not acceptable with humans.


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kittykitty

Savannah Super Cat
At 6 months old, Elmo might well be going through a growth spurt. In my experience, this can mean he is hungry or his hormones are kicking in...if he is not neutered yet.

Try feeding him before you expect visitors. Raw beef chunks worked well for my 4-7 month old boys exhibiting the same behavior as Elmo...and if he is not neutered...get that done asap!

I also agree with other suggestions he might need an equally active playmate, additional playtime and a firm NO and scruffing and removal away from visitors, even crating or in a room alone if need be.

You also need to never let Elmo have any chance at playing or biting at your hands...none at all, even softly...nip that habit in the bud right now by offering a stuffed toy to bite and kick instead, and walk away from him. Don't let him even begin nipping or kicking at your hands....if he does, immediately scruff him and tell him "NO" loudly and firmly and set him down facing away from you. Walk away from him at this time and ignore him. He will soon learn that is not acceptable behavior, but you must set the boundaries sooner than later....

I have been doing the scruffing and yelling no for a few months now with no result. It actually made him more aggressive. Once I stopped punishing him this way his aggression got better with me at least.


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Patti

Admin
Staff member
Okay, so if the tummy rubbing is what seems to trigger the behavior then maybe you can try to desensitize him? Not sure if he will sit on you lap but try picking a 'down time' for him and gently put you hand on his tummy. If he starts the biting/scratching gently deter him with your free hand while leaving your other hand on the tummy, then try giving him scritches on his head or wherever he likes being petted. Don't prolong it, but try to do this at least a few times each day, and as he allows let him gently rub the tummy as well... not sure if it will work but may be worth a try.
 

Pam Flachs

Savannah Super Cat
How are you doing the scruffing and saying firmly, (but not yelling) NO? If you are doing it after he has started biting and kicking your hands, then he is going to be confused by your actions. By allowing him to start kicking and biting, he feels he has your permission to bite and scratch until it hurts or injures you and then reprimanding him is confusing to him. The idea is to not let that behavior start and/or put a stop to it immediately...and not after your hands are scratched...even better to thwart the behavior beforehand by only playing with wand toys or other favorites. And if your visitors insist on rubbing his belly even when warned not to (this is a trigger for many cats of any breed to react in a not so favorable way), then I'd put Elmo in another room before guests arrive and not let him out until they have left for home.

And despite Elmo's visits to your parents' home with other pets, it is not the same as if he had a live-in companion. Each time he visits your parents' cats and dogs is like a brand new experience for him....getting to know them and each ones' personality all over each time....
 
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