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Scratching Issue...how to stop it

Pam Flachs

Savannah Super Cat
#1
il Gatopardo said:
I should have been more succinct, my bad. it is mating behaviour to which I refer. As an F2 he came unfixed, but per the vet I did it anyway. To no avail. He will remove my blankets and, if he can, take hold of me. my arms are perpetually torn and this happens every single time I lay down, bed,nap etc. it is a bit annoying but nothing in the world will separate us. he's my boy but I thought perhaps this has been heard of before.​

You want to stop this behavior. How old was he when he was neutered, and how long ago? If he was older before neutering, it may take some time before his hormones settle down. Even though he would not have been fertile, he may still display the same behaviors as any other stud cat, but those should subsist with time.

Do not let him take hold of your arms! Let him know this behavior will not be tolerated. You could get a serious infection requiring medication or hospitalization from the scratches or bites. You want to ignore the behavior and not reward it, which you are doing by allowing the biting to continue. In your cat's mind, this is now a ritual every time you lie down. When he does that, try telling him "NO" in a loud firm voice, and removing yourself from the bed, or him from the room, shutting the door behind you, for a time-out. Using your body language and tone of voice, let him know you are not happy with the way he is playing. If you can, when he starts to bite or scratch at your arms, offer a sturdy stuffed toy in place of your arms, or try scruffing him by the back of the neck and setting him down firmly on the floor facing away from you, then walk away. It won't be fun having to do this over and over again, but he will soon learn that you are not a chew toy and can learn to know which behaviors are tolerated and those that are not. You will need to be consistent with your retraining of this habit until it is gone.

And no, this is not a behavior restricted to Savannahs! Any cat or other pet may do this....as long as they are allowed to.

Thank you for the reply. it' been several years I guess since he was neutered. I will try your suggestions. I do try to hide under the blanket but it does not always work. I doubt this is normal to all cats but admittedly I do not know. Just last night he tore my arm badly.
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Pam Flachs

Savannah Super Cat
#2
Ouch! That looks bad, and quite painful! Did you clean the wounds with soap and water and apply an antibiotic salve like Neosporin? Keep an eye on it for infection.

Are you able to clip his nails, or have a vet do it for you?

This is why you need to work diligently on getting him to stop this behavior......hiding under the blankets is not working, as we can see :(

I hope others will add some advice for you to try, too. Again, you must stick with whatever works to get him to stop this behavior, even if it takes some time.
 

Brigitte Cowell

Moderator
Staff member
#4
Agreed, Marilyn can determine a personalized plan of attack to deal with this issue, and she will be able to question you to really understand if there are cues to when he is going to start this behavior to hope to be able to dissuade him before he's even SET on doing this....
 

il Gatopardo

Savannah Super Cat
#5
Ouch! That looks bad, and quite painful! Did you clean the wounds with soap and water and apply an antibiotic salve like Neosporin? Keep an eye on it for infection.

Are you able to clip his nails, or have a vet do it for you?

This is why you need to work diligently on getting him to stop this behavior......hiding under the blankets is not working, as we can see :(

I hope others will add some advice for you to try, too. Again, you must stick with whatever works to get him to stop this behavior, even if it takes some time.
Yes had to go to the sink there was that much blood. One of those kind of cuts but it did not really hurt much. Vet looks like me when they try bravely to clip his nails. BTW those are not claw marks. he takes hold until I finally tear my arm away but he does not do any actual damage himself. Oddly he purrs the whole time. On another note, and I do find this odd, he had a predeliction to come up from behind me when I was sitting and purring away would reach around and take hold of my throat. THAT is not normal domestic behaviour i Really don't think, and it was quite scary as I realized he could crush my larynx if he wanted. Little Inara could not do that, no way. So I guess it's all part of having a semi-wild animal. I would never go back though, it's like black and white vs. full color if you know what I mean
 

Brigitte Cowell

Moderator
Staff member
#6
I'm not sure that because it isn't normal domestic cat behavior it has then to be normal Serval behavior? It just could be not normal for any cat? We're all individuals and have weird quirks, it's what makes us "us"... but I've a number of Savannahs over the years and not one wants to take hold of my throat, including the F1s.
 

il Gatopardo

Savannah Super Cat
#7
Yes I would agree. At the end of the day cats are inscrutable animals. But I have had many over the years and would say there is a difference. It's what I love about my Henry boy. I can and will live with his "eccentricities".
 

Pam Flachs

Savannah Super Cat
#8
Yes had to go to the sink there was that much blood. One of those kind of cuts but it did not really hurt much. Vet looks like me when they try bravely to clip his nails. BTW those are not claw marks. he takes hold until I finally tear my arm away but he does not do any actual damage himself. Oddly he purrs the whole time. On another note, and I do find this odd, he had a predeliction to come up from behind me when I was sitting and purring away would reach around and take hold of my throat. THAT is not normal domestic behaviour i Really don't think, and it was quite scary as I realized he could crush my larynx if he wanted. Little Inara could not do that, no way. So I guess it's all part of having a semi-wild animal. I would never go back though, it's like black and white vs. full color if you know what I mean

What I "think" is going on with your boy is that he is showing his love for you...my 18 pound, very large and VERY strong Ocicat would also show me affection in his own way: drooling, purring, kneading my stomach or arm...then suddenly reaching up to gently nip my chin. I never minded and thought it really sweet and special, since I am the only one he does it to...until he bit my chin hard enough to leave two fairly deep puncture wounds that hurt like hell! Now he is not allowed to get that far; that was the first and last time he did this; my face is totally off limits now to him, and that is what I think you should be doing with your boy; limiting how far he goes with his affection. There are other ways he can show affection without using his claws or teeth! Purring is fine of course, as well as rubbing against you without claws or teeth, etc. There are signs your cat is going too far; in my boy's case, his eyes glaze over and he does not respond to my voice and is very focused on his purring, drooling and kneading. I pay attention to what he is doing and divert his attention when I feel he is going too far as I don't want to be bitten again, even if that means pushing him off me and to the floor, and telling him "NO", which always breaks his "zone".

I'm curious as to your reaction when your cat took hold of your throat? Was it a one time thing, or is he still doing it? Again, unless you are encouraging or ignoring his behaviors by allowing it, he will continue....
When you describe your latest wounds as a result of you tearing your arm away, that tells me your boy might also be over stimulated by you allowing him to wrap his arms around you until you pull back since he is purring while he does it. Many cats can react in ways we don't like or even hurt us somewhat when they are overstimulated by too much petting or playing; usually this results in them kicking you away with their hind feet or biting. So stopping him at the point he wraps his arms around yours is a start to stopping this behavior....

As far as trimming his nails, I am sure your vet, or another one, could sedate him to get the job done. This should be done on a regular basis to keep his nails short so you are not scratched so badly, even if it is you pulling your arms away. You might even consider Soft Claws that are a nail covering put on with adhesives.

Please don't get offended, but I am sensing somewhat that you secretly enjoy this behavior by your words..."having a semi-wild animal", and calling his behaviors "eccentric". Yes, cats of any breed can have many eccentricities; it is one of the things I love dearly about mine, but I would never allow this sort of behavior that your boy is doing. (And I DO understand the black and white of it. I could never own another breed of cat. Savannahs are very special, indeed!) The fact that your arms are scratched so badly and he has put his mouth on your throat does not bode well, in my opinion. By your pics, he is a very big boy, and if you are sincere in wanting to change his behavior, I encourage you full heartedly to at least try some of the suggestions and advice given here by me and others, and consider contacting Marilyn, the Cat Coach.

Please keep us posted!
 

il Gatopardo

Savannah Super Cat
#9
Hi Pam,

I guess in a way you are right. I do enjoy the specialness of him (wild) and maybe I allow this to go on. you have good insight. But I do get tired of it (obviously)
and I'm not sure what to do, he is very big, and stronger than I thought a cat could be. water bottle -pfft verbal commands.. blah, Dogs are so much easier. NO!, ok. Cat-take a hike... I'm being humorous but we all know there is a truth in this.
The throat biting was anectdotal, he stopped a while ago but I brought it up in case any new owners were having the same experience. And I still would like to understand. I don't know what it is but they do not mean any true harm They are just weird (can be) as we all know, in so many ways.
Thank you so very much for your considered reply.

Cheers
Phil
 

Pam Flachs

Savannah Super Cat
#10
Yes, I do sense you are tired of Henry's behaviors, or you wouldn't have mentioned it :)

I also understand having a big, strong cat (my Ocicat is incredibly strong...built like a pitbull, and his strength is amazing...and quite intimidating at times). I have found that spraying a water bottle most times does not work with cats....but I do think simple, consistent, one-word verbal commands said with force and conviction can have an impact and make cats listen and respond, along with physically removing them from your body and walking away for the time being.

I am very glad the throat incident is no longer, and it is something I have never heard of before, with any domestic cat. Again, I think it was his way of showing affection to you as described above....and no, they mean no harm, but because Henry is a very large cat and strong, the potential for harm to you was there.

Yes, cats ARE weird, lol! We love them nonetheless, but after three years, I sense you are ready for Henry to show his affection to you in a gentler way.....I also believe it can be done, but it will take some effort on your part.....and I think you are ready to try.