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Why is My Cat So Weird? And What to do About it??

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  • Why is My Cat So Weird? And What to do About it??

    So one of my cats, Bea Arthur, is an absolute love. She will cuddle with you, drape herself across you as you sleep, and purr her head off. She'll follow you around the house while winding around your feet, looking at you lovingly with her big green eyes, and just generally being too sweet for words. But sometimes when I'm petting her, she'll randomly 'flip a switch' and start biting/nipping at my hands; and she'll have all of her claws out as well (while she's laying on her back, showing me her belly... so I'm a little confused by this).

    Of course, at this point, I stop petting her and she gets no love until she calms down.

    I've actually seen her wake up from a cat nap, walk over to her sister (Sophia) and start bathing her... within 45 seconds, the bathing starts and she starts nipping at Sophia. It's so bizarre, I just don't get it!

    Another issue I'm having with Beatrice is that in the middle of the night, I will wake up to her head-butting my face, which is very sweet.... until she starts biting me. It's usually my cheeks or chin that she goes for. The bites don't seem to be malicious... I've noticed that when she does this, she's purring abnormally hard- so hard that she's actually 'squeaking.' It's like she goes to rub the side of her face on mine and just kind of can't help herself from trying to gnaw on me. She's never broken skin before, and I shoo her away as soon as I feel it, but I can't get her to stop!

    I feel like she does the biting thing when she's overstimulated (I've heard that this can happen with cats- they enjoy being pet, but after a certain point its more than they can handle, and they'll start clawing or biting?)... but the problem is that I don't know what to do to stop it in the middle of the night, when I'm not even petting her.

    My other issue is with Bea's fascination with feet... Even if you're not moving them under the covers, she'll go completely ballistic and attack them (she really goes nuts over feet)... She will do the foot thing in the middle of the night, or even when I'm awake- but only when I'm in bed. Sometimes she goes on the foot offensive even when they're not under the covers, and she has some of the sharpest claws I've ever seen or felt in my life.

    Waking up to a cat biting my face or attacking my feet isn't my idea of a good way to start the morning... so what do I do to break the habits?

    I don't want to lock her out of my room, as she will make this unbelievable high-pitched crying noise all night, and that's not going to actually fix the problem... And I confess, I love sleeping when my cats are in my bed with me. I want to actually break her of these habits, not just banish her from my room.

    Is there a cat whisperer for these kind of issues? Any ideas as to what to do about any of this? All input is appreciated, so thanks in advance!
    Originally posted by Martha Drum
    ...But I don't want to sit helmetless on my horse while he lies on the ground kicking a ball around without a bridle while Leatherface does an interpretive dance with his chainsaw around us.

  • #2
    Sounds like overstimulation biting to me as well. How old is she? Many outgrow this silliness by 3. I, again, reference Da Magpie: she would pat, lick and nip my nose until I woke up and did what she wanted (usually under the blankets), and finally, she quit that this past winter and figured out covers on her own. Age will also stop her going after the bed mice..er feet (Da Lip quit when he was 4ish). I guess the only advice I have is to be careful not to overstimulate her and keep toys handy to give her when she does get silly - redirect
    Founder of the Dyslexic Clique. Dyslexics of the world - UNTIE!!

    Member: Incredible Invisbles


    • Original Poster

      That's great advice, thank you!

      And she's 2 years old... hopefully she'll outgrow some of this. I love a quirky pet, but not when they involve my feet looking like I put them into a blender

      ETA: LOL @ "bed mice"
      Originally posted by Martha Drum
      ...But I don't want to sit helmetless on my horse while he lies on the ground kicking a ball around without a bridle while Leatherface does an interpretive dance with his chainsaw around us.


      • #4
        trim her claws, short :-)


        • #5
          My cats will do this too. My younger female is more prone to it. Watch her carefully, and you might be able to pick up her warning signals. I can definitely tell when my little one is about to reach her threshold and start nipping or clawing.

          My two will also almost always turn a grooming fest into a swat fest. They start out very lovingly, but, again, my little one will invariably decide she's had enough, and off they go, swatting.

          As for the feet thing, I've been lucky. My current learned pretty quick not to do that. I usually just made some correcting noise (ah ah, or something like that) and tossed them off the bed (you know, in a gentle cat toss sort of way). They figured out pretty quick not to do it, but I know some cats are relentless about that.

          And yes, short claws are your friend. Mine have to get trimmed at least once every 2-3 weeks or they start getting pretty sharp.


          • Original Poster

            Yeah, I haven't found enough bravery in me yet to try to trim her claws... I actually got the girls one of those 'Emory Cat' scratching board things, which is supposed to 'file' their claws down. And she uses it all the time... which would be awesome, if it didn't just make her claws sharper!

            I'm so disappointed that the Emory Cat didn't give me an easy out... it just gave Bea more tactical support
            Originally posted by Martha Drum
            ...But I don't want to sit helmetless on my horse while he lies on the ground kicking a ball around without a bridle while Leatherface does an interpretive dance with his chainsaw around us.


            • #7
              Do an online search on "feline aggression" and you will find some very good scholarly pieces about the different kinds - petting induced, redirected, territorial, etc. I got some good advice about how to handle a problem we had with a cat who was claiming our bed as her own. Fireplace gloves were involved.


              • #8
                Just a couple of things - don't rub her tummy anymore. The whole showing tummy thing isn't an invitation to rub, but simply showing submission. Putting your hand in there is an invitation to bite. The best position for a cat in a fight is on their backs where they can use teeth and kicking, raking action to do most damage. And yes, I know all too well how irresistible a cat tum is and have scars to prove it (dork).

                When she is "bathing" her sister - that's not her being nice, it's domination. Does sister wash her back? I bet not, because Bea is dominant. She gives the washes, not gets them. Let her gnaw on sister. When she sisters gets tired enough of it, she will either leave or take some action.

                As far as the face biting and foot killing, you may have to keep her out of your room at night. I know it's hard, you sound like me - can't sleep with no kittehs on bed, but it has to be done. Saw a show called "My Cat from Hell" and guy had a little pressurized air can or something that gave a puff of air whenever the cat came near the door. Check it out, that might help.
                "Cats aren't clean; they're covered with cat spit."
                - John S Nichols (1745-1846,writer/printer)

                Don't come for me - I didn't send for you.


                • #9
                  I'm guessing you haven't had a bunch of cats over the years. This is cat behavior 101.

                  Lots of of over stimulation and general cat weirdness. Cut those claws! If you can see the pink through the clear/white part of the claw, you know your clipping boundary.

                  I usually wake up to someone either trying to eat my hair or knead my scalp - or just purring draped around my head.
                  "Dogs are man's best friend. Cats are man's adorable little serial killer." -- theoatmeal.com


                  • Original Poster

                    Originally posted by shiloh View Post
                    When she is "bathing" her sister - that's not her being nice, it's domination. Does sister wash her back? I bet not, because Bea is dominant. She gives the washes, not gets them. Let her gnaw on sister. When she sisters gets tired enough of it, she will either leave or take some action.

                    You are so right... Sophia doesn't bathe her back, she more just sits there, looking confused; and then that's when Bea starts nipping at her.

                    The other night, Sophia was sleeping next to me in bed, and Bea walked from where she had been sleeping next to my feet, and actually *laid on top of Sophia* and made her leave the bed!!!

                    I feel so bad, she did this to Sophia while we were sitting on the couch yesterday, too... she laid on top of Sophia and started biting her neck until Sophia jumped off the couch. Bea then settled into the spot on the couch that Sophia had been sleeping in, and took a nap.

                    I get that she's dominant, but goddamn!!! I've been around cats my whole life, but I've never seen anything like this! Will she eventually calm down on the whole 'asserting her dominance' thing? I feel bad for Sophia, it's like Bea tries to keep her away from me.

                    I'll definitely do some research on Feline Aggression... and will get her claws trimmed, somehow. She woke me up this morning by attacking my thighs (as opposed to my feet)... OUCH.

                    Looks like Bea Arthur may be spending some time out of my bedroom for a while. *sigh*
                    Originally posted by Martha Drum
                    ...But I don't want to sit helmetless on my horse while he lies on the ground kicking a ball around without a bridle while Leatherface does an interpretive dance with his chainsaw around us.


                    • #11
                      Sounds like you need to read this: http://theoatmeal.com/comics/kitty_pet


                      • #12
                        the little can of pressurized air is called "Sccccat". Its pretty amazing for keeping cats out of areas you don't want them to go.

                        As far as the behavior, my young one (about 2.5) is just growing out of the foot attacking weirdness, and one of my middle ones (about 4) got over the whole purr-bite attacked around that age as well. So yes, I definitely think its an age thing. Cats seem to be really weird/crazy for the first couple years, then they get more independent and standoffish, then they go to being cuddle/purr machines as they get older. Its a funny evolution!


                        • #13
                          My now passed cat Oreo was like that his whole life. He was known as "psycho" by those who didn't learn his quirks. He would more than just claw he would sink his teeth into you if you weren't careful. I finally learned (as did friends as well) to watch the signs of overstimulation and just stop touching him and ignore him. That helped a lot. I also started petting him the way a cat mom would with a single finger (like a tongue) along his face just like mama cats do. That seemed to soothe him more than anything.

                          He would also attack feet aka savage them. I finally taught him that if he slept in the small of my back that things could remain peaceful and he wouldn't get booted off the bed for his evil cat attacks.


                          • Original Poster

                            Originally posted by cute_lil_fancy_pants_pony View Post
                            Sounds like you need to read this: http://theoatmeal.com/comics/kitty_pet
                            I just spit out my Vitamin Water. HAHA! Thanks for this!
                            Originally posted by Martha Drum
                            ...But I don't want to sit helmetless on my horse while he lies on the ground kicking a ball around without a bridle while Leatherface does an interpretive dance with his chainsaw around us.


                            • #15
                              Most cats do grow out of the foot attack stage (most!). We had a tuxedo cat that we dubbed "The Big Mac Attack" (his name was Mac). He was brutal if you dared to move at all during the night. Lasted until he was about 3 years old. The good news is that he turned out to be one of the best cats ever.

                              I have one now that has "issues" and will chew my hair (she and another of mine fight over who gets to sleep on my pillow at night). I HATE the hair chewing! She's kind of scary, so have to be careful when shooing her away. She will also turn on you when petting her, so is just scary in general, but has physical issues that excuse the behavior. We just always tell people not to touch her even though she is rubbing up against them and purring - it's a trap lol!

                              Goos luck with Bea - maybe it is the name (Bea Arthur was one tough lady - you should have named her Rue McClanahan or Betty White lol!).


                              • #16
                                I thought this comic was appropriate for this thread:


                                It's pretty true for my household
                                "The best hearts are ever the bravest"


                                • #17
                                  You've gotten lots of great thoughts and advice here. I only have one thing to add -- I'm curious how much exercise (as in interactive play with humans chasing a wand, a laser pointer, balls etc.) she is given... I have a couple of Siamese mixes that are super high energy. They are hell on paws without at least 45 minutes of play time every day. Even though they play together, it isn't enough. I find they really need some play time with us to stay sane and burn off their excess energy.

                                  If they don't get it, they will SCREAM at our bedroom door in the middle of the night to wake us up. They have that Siamese cry that sounds like a baby crying mixed with nails on a chalkboard all at the same time.


                                  • Original Poster

                                    Phaxxton, very good point that I hadn't thought of. I confess to not spending as much interactive time with them as I should.

                                    I think that increasing our playtime each day will help dissipate her energy. I'll pick up some new wands and such this evening...

                                    Sophia definitely needs an outlet, as she spent a good 10 minutes this morning trying to attack my feet as I was walking through the kitchen. She does this thing where she literally wraps herself around my ankle and does the kick/bite thing as she spins in circles up and down my lower leg. If I lift my foot to try and walk away, she flips under my foot and just keeps going nuts. I call it her rabid badger impression. And I think it's definitely triggered by a lack of attention. I will throw toys for her, and she'll chase them, but then won't do anything with them until I walk across the room, pick the toy up, and throw it for her again. She gets bored of this easily, as do I. I wish I knew how to teach her to fetch!

                                    Incidentally, Bea (the problem child) slept calmly through the night and through this morning without attacking me or my feet. However, there was some face biting in the wee hours. She did start something new this morning, however. As I was waking up, she started licking my hands (we were cuddled up together and I had my arm around her). I don't know if she was 'bathing' me or what, but she's never done that before. I wish I knew what was going on in that little black head of hers.

                                    Ah, life with cats.
                                    Originally posted by Martha Drum
                                    ...But I don't want to sit helmetless on my horse while he lies on the ground kicking a ball around without a bridle while Leatherface does an interpretive dance with his chainsaw around us.


                                    • #19
                                      I've got 2 siamese, so I know nuts. They learned this wonderful word early in their lives: NO In bed, NO means don't bother me. If you do, be prepared to hit the deck. Follow through, they will learn. When they ask at 5am attention I have the option of ignoring them. Actually ignoring doesn't stop them, mumble no, and game is over.

                                      The "rabid badger" isn't lack of attention, it's lack of manners. Give the cat some boundaries.

                                      Aside from them having basically expensive anti-social barn cat demeanors when I got them so they wouldn't play with me, they spent a lot of time by themselves. I worked ungodly hours, so they learned to entertain themselves. They play with each other, they will find a toy and toss it over the room for 5 minutes. One day I really did come home to find a roll of string cris-crossing the place. That must have taken quite a bit of time. About 5 years ago, I had 3 months between jobs that I was home all the time. In hindsight, horrible move. One is now codependant and pulls her hair out when I'm not around. We were all happier when she thought she was a cat.

                                      I have found that a Feliway diffuser does help settle them down. I can tell when the screaming starts, it's time for a refill.
                                      Visit my Spoonflower shop


                                      • Original Poster

                                        Thanks for your post, RedMare... can you tell me more about the Feliway diffuser? I'm not familiar with it, or what it does. Thanks!
                                        Originally posted by Martha Drum
                                        ...But I don't want to sit helmetless on my horse while he lies on the ground kicking a ball around without a bridle while Leatherface does an interpretive dance with his chainsaw around us.