I'm in the overstimulation and human-pay-attention- to-where-you-are-petting camp.My cat who later developed pancreatitis never let you pet below her shoulder blades.
Once diagnosed I could tell when medicine was working because I could pet her all the way down her back.
Sounds like you're getting better at reading his behavior and recognizing what his trigger is, so good on ya' OP!
If he's only a jerk 5% of the time, I'd say you have a pretty nice cat.
My guy is a jerk, but I have to admit, I find it kind of amusing most of the time, so by and large, I accept the kind of behavior you describe because he's very obviously demonstrating good bite inhibition (he doesn't ever break the skin) and he doesn't use his claws. If I'm not in the mood to put up with it, I just don't pet him. When I do pet him, I know that he isn't going to tolerate "normal petting" and that the most he can handle is about 30 seconds of chin scratching/rubbing - it's just who he is, and I'm not interested in trying to make him be something he really isn't by training him to accept cuddling.
As someone else (jetsmom, I think) mentioned, you might also increase (or add) some active play time to your interactions with him - just keep in mind that cat-play is often pretty predatory, so try to keep it at a little bit of a distance - fishing pole style toys are great, as are laser pointers (or just flashlights). And remember that if he gets really into the playtime, to let him have some "cool down time" afterwards before you try to pet him - cats don't seem to make the transition between rowdy play and relax-time as quickly as dogs can.
I am also in the overstimulation camp - I have one that bites as well. When he allows petting, he will first cuddle, then start licking, then, if the cat petting doesn't stop, he will bite. Took me very little time to learn that one and I have learned to live with him grooming me incessantly after cat petting time. It's just a matter of learning what the cat's boundaries on petting are, and leaving it at that.
Founder of the Dyslexic Clique. Dyslexics of the world - UNTIE!!
My cat will only bite when she's overstimulated. They usually do give you a signal, you just have to figure out what your cat's signal is. It may be subtle. I can tell with my cat by the way she starts flicking her tail that it is time to keep my hands off her. She also is not a fan of being petted while she's grooming.
And if she does attempt to bite me she gets un-invited from my lap, couch or bed and I ignore her. I also tell her "no bites". (Which probably has the same effect as if I asked her to go do my laundry, but whatever. )
While I agree that a cat might be naturally that way, I think these animals are smart enough to be taught to hold it together (if you desire that). A hunting cat *can* keep the lid on things while he is stalking his prey. Yes, he has to move the end of his tail just to have all that contained energy go somewhere.
But otherwise, I think you are taking a very smart animal and letting him "lie fallow": You'll let him use his intelligence for his own purposes only. Why? If you want something different from your cat, ask for it!
Reread bdj's post. She and her jerkwad cat have a fine relationship. Each knows where the other stands and is good with it. They have a system that works for them.
^^^ Do you think they understand "No, not appropriate behavior"?
Absolutely, just like my horses understand the phrase "don't make me beat you" even though I never have followed through on it. As others have said, it's in the tone. They are also facing me when I say it and they recognize the expression as well. Doesn't matter what is said as long as the tone is understood. Works every time so I know I'm getting my point across and I rarely have to use it these days.
Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Goethe
Funny story on the "don't make me beat you line." I was taking my first sidesaddle lesson on my own horse and hauled her to the lesson barn. As I was getting ready, she kept pawing. I kept telling her to "quit." She'd stop for a second and then start again. I finally said "don't make me beat you!" She stopped immediately and I found my self assuring the instructor that, no I don't really beat her.
Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Goethe
We use a squirt bottle.... Nothing removes my cat from the table or claws off the couch faster. Usually accompanied by the mean voice saying "Kitton" or a very sharp "Turbo". Of course she runs off looking beyond pissed, but now if I hear claws on furniture the voice alone will stop her. I think I've finally managed to convince my husband that you can't really discipline cats like you can dogs lol. The cat will just come back at you in some awful way like yowling in the middle of the night.
How much time do you spend playing with him each day? (like with those sticks that have a long elastic with a clump of feathers on it). Playing like that for 20 min or so a couple of times a day will help.
Also, giving him high perches, that he can climb on around the room, will exercise him, and stimulate him mentally. A lot of time, they do what you are doing to play/out of frustration at not getting their energy out and not enough mental stimulation.
Discipline doesn't work that well with cats. It's more a matter of teaching appropriate behavior thru using toys. But if they scratch/bite, you really only can do what you are doing. Just get out of the situation.
Some cats will accept petting only for a certain amount of time, then all of a sudden they "snap". For them, I usually pet for a shorter amount of time than they seem to want. Also, bellies are off limits for that type of cat, as it seems to trigger them biting and scratching.
Has somebody been watching "My Cat From Hell"? I do love that show. :-) OP, Not all kitties enjoy body petting. And even if they do usually enjoy it, if they're planning to sleep or just not in the mood, it's just too much stimulation. It's wise to begin petting the head, face and neck. If Kitty reciprocates - turns head side to side to "offer" cheeks, squints eyes and lifts chin for under-the-chin-scritchies and generally seems into an exchange of affection - then continuing a stroke down the back may be safe. If not, Kitty is saying, "Not now, please." If kitty's eyes remain squinted while you stroke down his back and if he doesn't twitch his skin at all, another stroke may be okay. There are certainly cats that just don't like long, whole-body strokies. And many aren't into having their sides, flanks or belly handled much.
I don't know why, but in my experience, cats are more appreciative of body petting when they're standing than when they initiate a lap cuddle-up. When they snuggle down in your lap they're not typically in the mood for anything more vigorous than head and neck pets and strokes. Also, in my experience, it's the rare cat that doesn't relish a gentle, but thorough, neck and shoulder massage. My Sarah has been known to begin drooling when I go to work on her neck while she's curled up in my lap. :-) Maybe you can try that the next time he visits your lap?
Removing the cat from your lap when he bites is certainly a good first step, but the 30 minutes of ignoring does nothing to reinforce that you don't want to be bitten. He doesn't make the connection. Any punishment you wish to inflict must be immediate and swift. That said, I'd wager that Kitty is giving you some pretty clear signals that he's not up for a petting session before he nails you. If he's your first kitty, it's understandable that you'd need to brush up on your Kitty-speak. Just keep in mind, if he's saying, "Please, don't do that. I really wish you wouldn't do that. STOP doing that! AAAAAHHH CUT IT OUT!" and then biting, it's not really fair to hold a grudge.
Everything Jetsmom said is spot on. The only thing I'd add is that a structured feeding schedule (2-4 times per day, ideally) cuts down on boredom, gives cats something to look forward to and allows for bonding and recognition of you as the provider of good things. If you're free feeding him now, I highly recommend moving to small meals at relatively regular feeding times.
The "Get the F off me!" And Ignore for a while is a fine technique.
Here's another that works as well: Pin him-- to the ground, clamped under your arm or whatever, look him in the eye and tell him
B. I am the boss of you and you will submit to me.
C. I have all day.
What's happening is that kitteh is enjoying your relationship but in there, he starts to ask about who holds the power. It's a fair question.
Also, if he isn't getting enough attention or playing (in ways that don't hurt you), he's a frustrated juvenile delinquent. You know what I mean: He's the kid who isn't getting enough of the right attention, so he'll take bad attention if that's all there is. So to be fair, you do have to make sure that you are playing the kind of cat games he does like sometimes. After that, you are within your rights to ask him not to ambush you while you all are cuddling.
Back to that. The switch from Love to Kill is not one that the person/cat with less power gets to make. He needs to lose something he wants when he oversteps his bounds. Since he has a big ego (after all, he's a grown man and a cat), your kicking him off your lap might not be enough. Does he come back, all contrite and ask for attention? Or does he accept your diss and move on with his day? If the latter is his response, you haven't given him enough to lose. A cat being held until he gives up and goes limp is very, very inconvenienced. Also, he can think during his inconvenient lock up. He might be pissed, but he is not terrorized, so he has a chance to try different strategies to try and please you.
He can be as pissed as he likes (that you said No to his controlling the terms of your relationship), but it won't help. The only thing that does earn him his freedom is limp chillage. Then you let him go and forget the whole thing happened.
You can do this "inconvenient lock down" when he acts as if he's going to attack but hasn't yet. Cat knows his plan so you can train him (address his thoughts) whether or not he actually executes the attack. Don't be rough. Just be firm and patient.
If you can do this a couple of times and out-wait the cat, you have the tool you need. If he gets out of line, pin him/contain him as you have in the past, look him in the eye and let him know that the same routine will follow-- how long and firmly you hold him is up to him.
The a-hole of a cat I know who was fixed this way didn't take much. If you were petting him, even on the belly, he usually met your eye first before attacking (cat asking for permission). If you pinned him by the chest to the ground or chair or whatever he was on, looked at him with a steely gaze and said "Seriously? You want to go there?" the cat gave up. It didn't take much at all once he was trained.
Why force a cat (or anyone) to accept unwelcome stroking? As long as my cat lets me clip her nails, check her teeth, clean her ears, etc. anytime I feel the need (and she does), why would I force casual touching upon her when she says she doesn't want it? To do so just closes lines of communication. And I try to "listen" to her most subtle cues so she never has to "yell" for me to get the point. I actually like for her to tell me how she's feeling and what she does or doesn't enjoy. Otherwise I might start to feel like some creepy cat-o-phile, taking liberties when or where she'd rather I didn't. There are times that my lap is off limits and there are times that her belly is off limits. We're both secure enough in our friendship to be okay with that.
I hiss at mine if they are attacking me. That usually gets them to back up real fast and leave me alone. I will also clap to get their attention as well. My 2 boys are brothers but very different in personalities. Skittles is my grumpy old man Siamese. He is a very affectionate cat on his terms and will happily snuggle with the husband and take tea with the daughter (he can rock a baby bonnet) but full body stroking is a no. Kid his orange brother is my rough love boy. Full body rubs and stroking are not only encouraged but demanded and the harder the better. Kid loves to rub his teeth on you while Skittles will randomly bite. Usually I will hiss at Skittles when he bites and he'll back off. Course both of my boys come when called, sit, lay, stay and walk on leash. Whoever said you can't train cats hasn't tried. Granted not all of them will be rock stars with it but at minimum load up should be taught. Load up for my boys gets them into their carriers in short order which saves me from chasing them through the house for vet visits.
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Originally Posted by alicen:
What serious breeder would think that a horse at that performance level is push button? Even so, that's still a lot of buttons to push.