Used to roughhouse....now she\'s rough all the time!

Amoritia StrogenAmoritia Strogen WayneMember Posts: 6
edited 6 August, 2010 in Behavior & Training
Hello, I'm sort of new to the forums but I just don't know what to do! We got Izzie at about 7 wks old and at first she was very shy and very withdrawn and refused to be away from myself and my boyfriend. She finally began to show interest in playing and because she is an only kitten we figured that a little roughhousing wouldn't hurt. I raised many litters of kittens as a child and saw how they played with one another. The problem is now that she's about 4 months old and now has full-blown kitten energy. BUT almost all of this energy is violent in nature! She's begun hiding behind and under things and attacking people's legs and feet as they walk by. We can't pick her up anymore because she starts clawing and biting. We stopped playing rough with her ages ago...I'm not sure what to do. She really is a loving kitten that loves affection but it's hard to tell when I can pet her and when I'm going to get my hand chewed off. Help! Have we ruined our cat?!

Comments

  • Tara WTara W St. PaulMember Posts: 939
    edited 30 December, 2008
    Well, yes you created a monster. Seven weeks is too young for a kitten to be separated from its mother and littermates. That's a crucial time for a kitten to learn proper manners from its mom and the other kittens. Mom cat lets her babies know when enough is enough and when things are getting too rough. And now that you started the roughhousing... well... you've got a tough road ahead. #1 No more using body parts as toys. Use toys only for full contact sports. #2 When kitty attacks make a high pitched yipping noise and walk away from her. #3 Use time outs (5 minutes is usually plenty) when she won't stop. Put her in a bathroom or a crate. Somewhere boring. You may have to cat proof a room for this. You may get attacked while you're trying to get her in her timeout room, so it might be necessary to grab her scruff while you're picking her up to get her "calm down" endorphins going. #4 Do everything you can to wear that kitty out with playtime so she will be too tired to start any roughhousing. Get wands and things to chase and just run her ragged every chance you get. #5 Keep the claws clipped to minimize damage while you're getting her behavior under control. This is a good habit to get into anyway, so get the clippers out and nip a few claws while she's napping. Best of luck to you! Make sure everyone in your household knows the rules so this can be fixed ASAP.
  • Chrysee HinshawChrysee Hinshaw Member Posts: 474
    edited 31 December, 2008
    Gordie's advice is excellent. The main thing to remember is that if bad behavior occurs, everything needs to -stop-. No punishing or yelling, playtime is just -over- right then. Kittens that play rough aren't intending to hurt, they just want to play but for whatever reason (such as being taken away from a litter far too early) they don't know how to do it right. Struggling or yelling or engaging the kitten in any way after biting/clawing really just looks like more play to the kitten. Being shunned will eventually make her learn that biting leads to no more play, which most likely she won't like. Lots of people mess this up because they can't be consistent with it. The only other thing to note is that grabbing a kitten by the scruff is a good idea if you need to get her into time out, you definitely shouldn't be picking her up that way. Grab the scruff (not the neck) and get an arm around her belly, holding her facing away from you is probably the safest way.
  • Joy WaltersJoy Walters Member Posts: 9,276
    edited 31 December, 2008
    Uh-oh. Unfortunately, you\'ll need to take responsibility for this and re-train her to be gentle. Do not use your bare hands to play with her. Always use a cat teaser (fishing pole/feather thingy) and stop before she gets too wound up. When she goes for your body parts, ignore her and walk away. When she goes for your feet, do NOT kick at her. Spray bottles of water also work, although it doesn\'t seem fair to her since she thinks it\'s OK to play this way. Kittens DO play this way, but mom can intervene when things get too rough and she usually does. Laser lights also work and show her it\'s OK to stalk something other than your feet. Everyone must be on the same page with this. It\'s not OK for you to discipline or try to retrain her and then someone else to continue to roughhouse with her. Be consistent and loving and you may be able to retrain her. And please keep this in mind for future animals you may have. At some point in your life, you may have children around and it\'s not so great when the animal goes for the child It\'s usually the animal who loses out and winds up in a shelter tagged with a behavior problem. :-k
  • Amoritia StrogenAmoritia Strogen WayneMember Posts: 6
    edited 1 January, 2009
    First of all, thanks a lot for all of the wonderful advice! I know we created a little monster but we really had no idea she would do this. I also wanted to say that I knew when I got her that 7 wks was far too early to be separated...I was really worried by this and we tried our best to compensate. She was in a dangerous situation and was going to be given away one way or another. We made sure she ended up in a good home ^^;; As for all of your tips, I've been yelping when she chews on me. I stopped playing with her like that a long time ago. However, I found out yesterday (after doing a little investigating) that other people in the household have been undermining me a bit. Still roughhousing with her and allowing her to attack and gnaw on them. So that should stop soon. I hadn't though of the "time-out" but I think that's an excellent solution! she's an extremely social animal and hates to be set away from us. That would probably get the point across. Again, thank you so much guys!
  • Lisa DausmanLisa Dausman Member Posts: 5,216
    edited 1 January, 2009
    Don't worry, your not alone, I see this all the time with kittens, puppies, and foals. With foals, its the saddest one, what is "cute" with a foal, is down right dangerous, when they are full grown horses. What your kitten is doing, is actually normal play, at 4 months, but she would be doing this with another kitten, or other cats in the household, and as the others have said, the adult cats would be teaching her what is acceptable and what is not. Altho, like the others have said, its up to her human mommy and daddy to teach her manners. And everyone in the household needs to be on the same page, or this won't work. Start with the biting. Pick whatever word or words you want to use, but it has to be consistant, and the same every time. I use "no biting" in a stern, but not yelling voice. It takes a few lessons, they don't just stop overnight. For other bad behavior, use "stop" or "no", whatever you want, just keep it consistant. This can be followed by a spray bottle, but never spray them in the face, never soak them, never chase them down, when they stop doing it, you stop spraying, and never ever hit them. Cats can learn more than one word, mine know a plethera of words, and know what each one means. I would not use the carrier as a time out. She will associate that with something bad, as in being punished, you don't want to have a hard time loading her, you want the carrier to be associated with something good, I feed mine in the carriers. When its time to go to a show or the vets, I open the door, they walk right in. Its not too late, you were given excellent advice, she is a beautiful cat. I hope she is spayed, if she is not, that is part of the prob too. Best of luck with her. :):):):):):):D:D:D:D:D:):):):):)
  • Lisa DausmanLisa Dausman Member Posts: 5,216
    edited 1 January, 2009
    Forgot to add, lol, don't stress about getting Izzy at 7 weeks. I got Prowler at 6 weeks, somebody threw him out. He is now a show cat and extremly well behaved. Some have gotten their kittens even younger, like rescues, its what you teach them after you get them that is important. :):):):):):):D:D:D:D:D:):):):):)
  • Annalisa Conserti-JonesAnnalisa Conserti-Jones Member Posts: 5,234
    edited 1 January, 2009
    I would say to put your foot down about no roughhousing with your family is key. Boris is pretty well behaved, but he definitely needs reminders about his manners. The other day he clawed and nipped at me because he wanted me to pet him a certain way (he likes for people to cradle his head by putting their arms around him), and I found out that while I was out of town, my husband was letting him use nipping as a signal that he wanted that kind of attention. My husband knows my policy of not petting/playing with cats who bite, even if gently, not even once. That's because unless you are consistent in your behavior with a cat, they will learn that anything goes. But my husband is a dog person at heart, and is therefore used to roughhousing with pets, and keeps forgetting that cat bites tend to be real bad news. Here's what I told him just the other day to extract a promise from him that he should be firmer about not nipping in the future: "Honey, you and I might know that when Boris tries to nip, he does it for attention. But what would happen if we were both to die and he was rehomed with one of our relatives? They wouldn't know why he was nipping, and might interpret that nipping as aggressiveness, and get upset about it enough to give him to a shelter. Now, when you bring a kitty to a shelter claiming it is too aggressive for you, do you know what happens? They decide he won't be adoptable and put him to sleep. I know it's a very long shot, but I don't want to have to worry that Boris might end up in such a bad situation like that." :( My husband realized I was right to be concerned about this, and said he would do a better job of it in the future. And if we are talking children doing the rough housing, I'd say that you limit their time playing with the cat unless they learn how to play with her properly.
  • Joy WaltersJoy Walters Member Posts: 9,276
    edited 2 January, 2009
    What Boris\' mom said is right. She\'s a very good meowmie to her kitties, so you can take her advice with confidence. And I may be wrong, but I think one time she said that when her cats misbehave, she hisses at them like the momma kitty would. You really need to get everyone on the same page as far as teaching your kitty that rough-housing is not acceptable. Good luck and welcome to Catster!
  • Lisa DausmanLisa Dausman Member Posts: 5,216
    edited 2 January, 2009
    Boris is right, and this is a true story. My ex-bf's girlfriend works at a shelter, one of the higher ups. A beautiful Bumpurr looking cat was deemed unadoptable, because, he had what the staff said was a bad attitude, they were going to put him down, she said no, and took him home. He told me, the cat is now one of the nicest friendliest cats. She saved his life. But what if, like Boris said, no one wants to take the chance. Another true story. A friend of a friend found this kitten in a snow bank, starved and abused. Took her to the vet, got her back to health, no one wanted her, because if you tried to pet her, she would bite you. They were going to take her to a shelter, where she most likely would of been put down. They called me, I can never say no, and I excell at re-training the problem horses and the problem cats. It took a long time to re-train her, teach her, gain her trust, etc, but she turned into a loving cat too. I don't know where she came from or what happened to her, but she got very lucky that day they called me. She lived to be 15 and her name was Kitty Kat, she had a great life with me, and I miss her dearly. But what if, they never called me, what if, there was nobody like me to take her. I can tell you now, as the others have said, and from re-training the problem horses, that others created, if ya don't make the effert, and the entire household, the cat will end up in a shelter, and most likely put down. You are a good person, your trying to correct this, make the entire house- hold read these posts, or send me a ticket, lol, I will tell them in person, and I am the last person, someone wants telling them, not to mistreat any animal. Best of luck with your quest. :):):):):):D:D:D:D:D:):):):):)=;
  • Joy WaltersJoy Walters Member Posts: 9,276
    edited 3 January, 2009
    Bumpurr and I could probably tell you hundreds of stories of cats we've seen in shelters who were surrendered and labeled as a behavior problem. Some of these cats make it into new homes and some...dont. :(( My cousins always thought it was "funny" to tease their dog. Unfortunately, Rusty was a pit bull mix when pit bulls weren't popular and he had to be surrendered because he bit me. My Aunt Em tried very hard to control her sons (and husband) around the dog, but that was back at a time when wives kept house, made babies and cooked and she didn't have much pull with the men in her family. Poor Rusty. Actually, any dog they had was a hyper, unapproachable mess. We aren't saying that you would surrender your animal. You sound like you are really trying to work this out with the other members of your family. Take your bf to a shelter and show him all the animals who've been surrendered because of "behavior problems". A little kitty doesn't know better and learns what it lives. Let us know if you need any more help, and we would like to apologize if we sound like we're preaching to you, but most people on this website feel very strongly about their animals! =;
  • Lisa DausmanLisa Dausman Member Posts: 5,216
    edited 3 January, 2009
    And I am prob the worst one on here, lol, as far as being overly pickey and protective of their cats and horses. :D I am very well known for it on the cat show circuit, and very proud of it. :D At work, took on a large man, who was of another ethinicticity, thats known for their attitude. Was outside at break, watching the geese walk by, and this man picked up a rock, and started to throw it at them. I said, I know your not going to do that in front of me, I am the last person you want to mis-treat animals in front of. He said, how ya going to stop me. I said, I will call the police. He charged me, others outside had to hold him back. I stood my ground. Nothing happened to him, but there has been no more rock throwing at the geese. As Izzy said, we are not picking on you, lol, hope ya didn't take it that way, just trying to help you convince your family members, and as she said, be glad to help you with any more questions. :):):):):):):D:D:D:D:D:D:):):):):)=;=;=;=;=;=;
  • Annalisa Conserti-JonesAnnalisa Conserti-Jones Member Posts: 5,234
    edited 4 January, 2009
    Yeah, I totally mean "if she were to be surrendered because you are no longer there", not that you would surrender her. :( I do hiss at my cats, but only if they are doing things like hunting bed mice, which means I can't really move my feet out of harm's way without encouraging them more (see they don't realize it's my feet under there, despite both of them actually having had extensive field trips under the bed covers inspecting my feet). It is more productive to stand your ground and hiss a nipper kitty off than to try and shake their little mouths off, which they might interpret as play. But if it's a situation where you can remove yourself without engaging, that's even better. Just go very rigid, turn around, and walk away. Ignore her a couple of minutes, then try again. Keep it up, and soon kitty will realize she only gets your attention when she plays nicely. In fact, at first when she is really nice to you and plays without nipping, make a big fuss: give her baby talk, snuggles, and treats.
  • Amoritia StrogenAmoritia Strogen WayneMember Posts: 6
    edited 6 January, 2009
    lol you guys are truly amazing and I think you deserve an update on dear Izzie! Well first point of news...we discovered that our lovely Izzie is actually a boy! Which is embarassing and a little awkward. Would that explain anything with him being aggressive? Just a side-thought. I have encountered a problem with re-training Izzie and it most certaintly isn't HIS (weird!) fault! My boyfriend and I live with his parents (and 12 yr old sister). (it's college, we're poor, it's easy and they're nice). I digress. So we sat down and gave the little sister the new rules...she has never had a pet before. The first problem I encountered was last night. I walked into the living room where my bf and a friend were playing a very LOUD video game...during a (rare) quiet spot, I heard Izzie crying his head off. I investigate to find he's been locked in his crate. I was horrified, as he had obviously been in there longer than the assigned 5min since he normally sits all pouty and takes his punishment. He was chewing on the cage... I then found that the little sister had "punished" him before she went to bed and forgot about him for an hour and a half! I haven't had the chance to speak to her...but I think I'm leaving it to the bf. He's more level-headed. Another note: I found out (from other family members) that the same little sister in question has been picking him up and snuggling him extra-tight...then upon his feisty struggles, she takes it as aggression and locks him up. I foresee a very, very serious talk. Otherwise, he has been responding very well to our efforts. He's become much more reasonable and easy to deal with...he was feeling playful this morning and I even got to pet him! He's learning and you've all been of so much help! He's such a sweet cat...
  • Lisa DausmanLisa Dausman Member Posts: 5,216
    edited 9 January, 2009
    Glad to hear Izzy is doing better, and the plan is starting to work. :D Forgot to ask, is Izzy neutered? If he is old enough, and not neutered, that may be part of the problem. :D This is an experience I had. While traveling to shows, if the radio is too loud, Prowler will cry like he is being murdered. Bumpurr could care less, weather the radio is loud or not, he just sleeps. Smokey will cry, until you turn the radio on, then she is quiet, doesn't matter how loud it is. Maybe the loud video game was scaring Izzy. I know this from training horses, never reward negative behavior. If a horse acts up/misbehaves, most peoples reaction, is to put him away. The horse soon learns, if I am a bad boy, my mommy will put me back in the pasture, and don't have to work. This is rewarding negative behavior. Cages/crates/carriers should never be used as punishment. They should be associated with good things. The little girl doesn't know, she never had a pet, and being that Izzy is a kitten, he is in the "being trained" stage, of what is expected of him, what is acceptable and what is not. The little girl just needs to be educated. Sounds like things are going better, it takes time, and its a learning experience for all involved. Hope this info helps, let us know how Izzy is doing. :D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D=;=;=;=;=;=;=;=;=;
  • JL GrummerJL Grummer Member Posts: 24
    edited 14 January, 2009
    Instead of using your hands to simulate kitten behavior, you could have used a cat dancer type toy to simulate the 'pounce' or 'stalk' instincts. My former cat Branowen which I had from 3 days old to 16 years old never had an agression problem. Yes, you can break this habit....BUT, you have to be serious about training the cat and realize that everyone has to be responsible for the training in your household. I am currently working with a F0 Geoffroys Cat. In 3 weeks, training her 2x a week, she has gone from biting and scratching to playing without using her claws and letting me pet her without animal handling gloves. Her aggression is dimensioning.
  • Lisa DausmanLisa Dausman Member Posts: 5,216
    edited 14 January, 2009
    Hoover, she didn't know, and she came to us for help. There were also other family members involved, that needed to get the message, one of which was a 12 yr old girl, that never had a pet before. Now that she knows, things are improving. And yes, I am a trainer, horses and cats.
  • JL GrummerJL Grummer Member Posts: 24
    edited 14 January, 2009
    I train problem cats. At 12 years old I was fostering 3 tiger cubs, teaching other kids how to train their dogs, and taking care of other predators, while living on an animal rescue ranch. In my experience the owners are oblivious to their own behaivors and blame the cat. Put blame on other people in the house. I also find that there are probably other human behaivor issues that are causing the behaivor in the cat. You are on the show circuit. That means your cats have to be properly trained. Sugar coating issues and being nice doesn't always 'wake up' an owner or family to change their behaivors in order to have a well behaived pet. Also, families that have no discipline in their behaivor, often have pets that are out of control also. At 12 many women 100 years ago were getting ready to select a mate and have a family. Kids are smart. A 12 year old knows right from wrong. Often kids are smarter than their parents. With my brothers and sisters at 12...We had to care for animals of multiple species. So one housecat with one 12 year old...if the kid is shown or told what to do..>The kid can follow directions. That is why there are associations like 4H that has a long standing animal husbandry program because kids CAN handle taking full-charge care of a pet.
  • Lisa DausmanLisa Dausman Member Posts: 5,216
    edited 14 January, 2009
    I started riding when I was 6 yrs old, by 15, I was showing on the "A" circuits, Quarter Horse, Palomino, Appaloosa. We took care of our own horses and we were sent to 4H and trainers, to learn. Our horses were very well behaved. Someone had to teach us, we had to learn it. My cats are show cats, they are very well behaved, I started them as kittens, when they were 8 weeks old. When they started showing at 4 months old, they were prepared for all the aspects of showing. I taught them. But, someone had to teach me, the aspects of showing, so I could teach my cats. The point I am trying to make is, I did not wake up one day, knowing how to show horses or cats, people taught me over time, and I do extensive research. My 4H leader taught us, you don't know everything, you will learn something new every day, and if you think you know it all, you are all done.
  • Annalisa Conserti-JonesAnnalisa Conserti-Jones Member Posts: 5,234
    edited 10 January, 2009
    I agree with Bumpurr. He has a good point. At 12, I had never had a pet other than a goldfish that died three days later. I didn't get my first cat until I was 31, because I never had the time or space for them. I was lucky in that the lady who ran Boris' rescue group was helpful to the point of being obsessive about cat care, and she gave me a lot of pointers. A lot of other stuff I learned from observing and dealing with Boris, and some of it I learned from reading other Catster's advice. So I can totally understand dealing with a 12 year old child who does not know how to treat pets. That said, Izzie's mom, I would talk to the 12 year old as calmly as you can, and tell her in no uncertain terms that if you catch her being rough with the kitten, or putting him in a cage and forgetting him (which can potentially be stressful for the kitten) one more time, she's done being allowed around the kitten. If it does happen, follow through: put the kitten in your room or another area of the house that she is not allowed in, and insist that she (the girl) earn your trust back before you will let her play with your kitten again. It sounds like it's not about training the kitten so much at this point, but rather about training the 12 year old on how to behave with him, and I'm glad you managed to pinpoint the problem.
  • Lori HelmickLori Helmick Glen Burnie, MarylandMember Posts: 25
    edited 8 February, 2009
    My mom has a kitty stuffed animal that she gives me when I start getting to rough. I beat it up and get my bad roughhousing out on the fake kitty
Sign In or Register to comment.

Welcome to the new Catster Community!

Introduce the community to your pet with our Pet Profiles and discover how to use the new community with our Getting Started pages!


Howdy, Stranger!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!