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Question
Posted by: Martin Wohlfarter | 2011-04-11

Bitting habit getting worse

Dear Cybervet

I''ve got a spied tabby that''s now about 3 years old. We used to play a lot, until she had her first and only litter. Therafter the playing behaviour changed drastically - instead of just nibbling softly, she started bitting more fiercely, often attacking my feet. I used to get her attention to something else like a string, but the bitting has gotten worse. She particularly attacks my girlfriend who has moved in permanently since a month. Scolding her, or putting her outside for 30mins does not help. When she comes back in, she often immediatly goes for the feet again. She had been vaccinated regularly, thus I would not expect anything like Rabbies. What worries me, is that she can be all friendly, and then suddenly, attacking your bear feet without warning. Wearing socks initially helped, but the last week or so, she''s also gone for " socked feet" ... She''s got adequete space to roam free outside, and many toys, while I still play with her and a string once a day. What could be the cause, and what could I do - is she jealous?

Regards, MW

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageCyberVet

Answer:
This sounds like a typical behavioral problem. Having enough space toys and playtime is very important and seems in place. I would suggest to try and use a spray bottle with water and spray the cat lightly every time she start biting, you could add a little citronella oil , but the point is there should be a negative experience connected with her behavior. Try and ignore as well? If possible, because excessive reactions from owners might stimulate this behavior. I would also suggest spaying her if she’s not been sterilized.
Should all of this not be effective you might want to consult a behaviorist and most vets will have a contact list for them in your area. Medication is limited but you could consult your vet regarding this as well.

The information provided does not constitute a diagnosis of your condition. You should consult a medical practitioner or other appropriate health care professional for a physical exmanication, diagnosis and formal advice. Health24 and the expert accept no responsibility or liability for any damage or personal harm you may suffer resulting from making use of this content.

2
Our users say:
Posted by: Chill | 2011-04-11

I don''t have any advice to offer re the biting habit - I had a cat that did that too, and I know it''s a damn nuisance.

However, I do have to take issue with this oft-repeated advice to add citronella oil to water with which one sprays dogs and cats to correct bad habits. The water part is fine, but adding the oil is in my opinion not at all a good idea - unless of course you plan to shampoo the animal immediately it behaves well. Once you have sprayed a dog or cat with an oil that smells awful to it, that smell will stick to the coat for days - how on earth is the animal expected to process that?

A short sharp burst, preferably to the face, of a dog or cat whose attention you need to get is fine, but please forget about citronella oil!

Reply to Chill
Posted by: Cybervet | 2011-04-11

Answer:
This sounds like a typical behavioral problem. Having enough space toys and playtime is very important and seems in place. I would suggest to try and use a spray bottle with water and spray the cat lightly every time she start biting, you could add a little citronella oil , but the point is there should be a negative experience connected with her behavior. Try and ignore as well? If possible, because excessive reactions from owners might stimulate this behavior. I would also suggest spaying her if she’s not been sterilized.
Should all of this not be effective you might want to consult a behaviorist and most vets will have a contact list for them in your area. Medication is limited but you could consult your vet regarding this as well.

Reply to Cybervet

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