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Agressive behaviour!

November 15th, 2006, 10:21 AM
If anyone has any suggests on what I can do to improve this, it would be hugely appreciated! My cat is just over a year old, and lately has been engaging in more and more agressive behaviour towards me. When he was a kitten he would cuddle around my neck and face for attention when I sleeping, which seemed cute, and we didnt really discourage it. Now, as a 10 pound cat his early morning attention getting behaviour has progressed to the middle of the night, and he now bites, scratches, head butts, licks eyelids and ears, and claws at my hair or the blankets when I try to get away from him. I am not sure what I can do to stop this. I've never had cats before, and I am hoping that this is not permenant damage due to their lack of training as kittens. I hope someone can help!

November 15th, 2006, 10:47 AM
I don't know if your cat is really being aggressive, as many cats do these things in play and to demonstrate affection. Has anyone encouraged him to play by biting hands, feet or anything moving under blankets? I have a cat who scratches my head when she kneads in my hair at night. This is affection and goes back to kittenhood as this is what kittens do while nursing. If you don't already, you can try clipping the cats nails to minimize damage. Biting can also be play, but this should of course be discouraged. My other cat also paws at me at night and what she wants is to get under the blankets as she's cold (short haired cat). Maybe this is what yours wants? Other than that, your cat may be expecting food as soon as you get out of bed. Often, if you feed them right away in the morning, they associate you getting out of bed with food, so will pester you all night to try and get this to happen. If this is the case, you might try waiting a bit in the morning before feeding him. Good luck!

November 15th, 2006, 11:19 AM

They do play under the blankets, and my other cat kneads in the night which is no problem, but this is not playful biting though. He will latch on and I will physically have to pry his jaws open to get him to let go (this will be after he has held on for several seconds). He exhibits this type of behaviour even when there is food in his bowl. I have tried cuddling him, locking him in his carrier (he cries pitifully), locking him out of the room (he breaks things, scratches the door and cries). Is there any type of training I can do with him? I dont mind so much in the early morning, but being woken up like this at 2, 3 and 4 in the morning is not fun.

November 16th, 2006, 11:14 AM
Yikes... doesn't sound pleasant. Is the biting accompanied by hissing and growling? If not, it could still be play. Cats can play pretty rough and will bite each other while doing so. Is your cat neutered? If he's not, I'd suggest having that done. When you lock him out of the room, is your other cat also out there or in with you? If the other one is also locked out, perhaps he would be busy playing and not trying to get in? I admit not having cats that went so far as to bite down like that, but all the other stuff, sure. From what I recall, it was a phase they went through and eventually grew out off all of it. Many cats like to play at night, which i suppose is probably a substitute for hunting. Do you have some toys for him? If he is being aggressive, can you put him in his own room at night (somewhere he can't do damage and wake you up)? For some of this, such as the biting, try squirting him with a squirt gun or water bottle when he does it, or, if possible, sound an air horn, rattle a can of coins, anything to scare him. If straight water doesn't work, you can also add a bit of white vinegar. I hope something works for you and maybe others will have some advice. If his behaviours continue to escalate, you might want to take him to the vet to rule out anything physical.

November 16th, 2006, 11:46 PM
That's definately not play, it's dominant behavior. Cats don't usually show that level of dominance towards people, but some just happen to have more of a dominant personality than others, and it was somewhat encouraged by allowing him to lay on your neck and head whenever he wants attention.

Aggressive dominance is something that most people usually think of in dogs, not cats, but it does happen. Whenever you see a cat that suddenly scratches after it decides you've petted it enough, that's also dominant behavior.

He needs to be locked out of the room at night, put everything possible away that he might break or destroy. You could also lock him in his carrier like you mentioned at night, you're just going to have to ignore the crying and carrying on.

During the day, don't give him attention when he asks for it. Pick a time when he's not asking for attention and go play with him and pet him. End the play time and petting before he gets tired of it and decides to end it himself.
Don't feed him when he's meowing and begging for food, that also teaches him to be in your face when he wants something. You also may want to set routine feeding times if you haven't already. When you have more than one cat and leave food out all day they can learn to use aggressive or dominant behavior in order to establish who eats first, and it can make an already dominant cat worse.

If he comes up to you begging for attention put him on the floor, don't make eye contact, don't say anything just ignore him. Every time he jumps up put him the floor. If the behavior elevates to the point of biting or scratching squirt him with a squirt bottle. Don't learn to rely on the squirt bottle for hiim jumping up though, use it as a last resort for when he actually turns to biting or scratching.

It also helps to teach behaviors with treats. If you've been giving him treats just for the heck of it don't do that anymore. Try making him sit or lay down before you give him the treat. Don't give treats if he's begging or being loud or aggressive.

There also may be a chance that there's something medically wrong and that's why he's exhibiting such aggressive behavior. Get him checked out by a vet to make sure that's not the case, and then proceed with normal training.
Btw, is your cat fixed? Unneutered cats usually show more aggressive behavior than cats that are fixed.

November 17th, 2006, 02:05 AM
I've seen some fairly aggressive play in other people's kittens and young cats but it seemed like more of a phase that settled down as the cats got older. Definitely get him neutered if he's not and a checkup (mention the increased activity at night). It could very well be that he is hyper and irritated due to some health problem that is developing. I've never had to train any of the cat's i've had, they've all been very well behaved. You could try playing hard with him before bed time as long as you can so he's had his fill, within reason. He's a young cat so he's probably got lots of energy to burn. Do you play chase with a string or throw toys fairly often? I think a routine like that is a good idea, really getting into play can help with your relationship. He may start respecting your space if you engage with eachother more and become more connected. He may also get used to knowing he has a play time and be less likely to need to decide when it be. Cat's do like to be up at night though so if they don't have something to do I can see how some might decide to try and wake you up. My cat would scratch at the blinds in the middle of the night, he just needed to look out the window for something to do so I had to make sure they were left open for him. That's all I can think of for now, good luck I hope you can figure this out soon and get a good night sleep:fingerscr .

November 17th, 2006, 02:52 PM
I've seen some fairly aggressive play in other people's kittens and young cats but it seemed like more of a phase that settled down as the cats got older.

The thing that gives it away as dominance and not play (assuming it's not a medical problem) is the fact that the cat clamps down with his teeth. When a cat grabs and holds with their teeth while refusing to release, that's a dominanct gesture. Most cats only use those tactics on other cats and would likely never challenge a human, but every once in awhile you see cats that try dominance tactics on humans in order to get their way.
Often you will see cats try to establish dominance with other cats by standing to the side or getting on top of them and clamping down on their neck. Mother cats often do this with younger kittens and male cats will do it with any cat they think should submit to them.
A cat that clamps down on your arm and won't let go after being told to leave the bed is saying "I'm NOT moving, you need to submit". I've seen cats (this is more common in formerly feral cats), who will go so far as all out running at and attacking someone to keep them out of their territory - obviously this is something that MOST cats would never try on a human but it's a good example of how they sometimes will use catlike tacticts to dominate another species.
When you see a dominant cat in a colony of other cats you'll often see them go up to another cat and clamp down on their neck until they submit, afterward they'll groom the cat for submitting.

November 18th, 2006, 05:32 AM
The biting and scratching really sounds scary. Remember that the rabbies of a cat is more virulent than that of a dog because they are more exposed to rodents. It might me advisable if you bring the cat to a veterinarian for an anti-rabbies serum and consult a trainor.

November 19th, 2006, 02:46 PM
Hi everyone.

Thanks for all the awesome advice. He is neutered, but I will definitely try playing hard with them, and the spray bottle/can of coins idea. I wish I could lock them in their own room but unfortunately there are no rooms in my place that are seperate other than bedrooms. I will also definitely try the suggestion of only giving him attention when he isnt asking for it. Thanks so much for all your help!


November 19th, 2006, 03:41 PM
Good luck. :fingerscr Also just thought of this never tried it though. Some people use a synthetic hormone spray that has a calming effect. Might be worth a look into.

November 19th, 2006, 05:07 PM
Any idea what that might be called? And can you just get it at a pet store or is it a vet perscribed kind of thing? That would definitely be something to look into if this other stuff doesnt work!


November 19th, 2006, 05:20 PM
Sorry I don't know what it's called it just gets mentioned here often. I think you can get it prescribed or from a pet store. I'd be more inclined to go through a vet and maybe do a bit of a search to make sure you've got something "safe". I'm paranoid about spraying anything because cats can be so sensitive.

November 19th, 2006, 05:58 PM
No kidding! If none of these other suggestions help, I'll definitely look into it with my vet. Thanks again!


November 19th, 2006, 07:14 PM
It actually may help to get catnip toys and sprinkle catnip on things you'd rather have him pay attention to like scratching posts.
Some cats don't like catnip so that may not work, but it's worth a try.
You'll have better luck if you buy the organic stuff for some reason. I've had cats that payed no attention to normal catnip but LOVE the more expensive organic stuff. I think maybe it tends to be packaged more tightly and is usually fresher which is why it works better.
You can also buy catnip plants and dry the leaves.
Petsmart, petco and several other pet supply stores sell them.

November 19th, 2006, 07:29 PM
Yes good idea with the catnip!! I've found buying it bulk in the health food store to usually be the freshest. People use it as a tea to relax the nerves before bedtime. Once I was making a cup and came into the kitchen to find the cat up on about three inches of counter space trying to cuddle with the microwave.:p

November 19th, 2006, 07:57 PM
didnt see this sugesstion here so thought maybe you could give it a try also. I have a domiant cat, he bites ( teeth locked on finger) when he has had enough petting, he paws my face in the middle of the night ( three oclock seems to be his favorite time) he is also very demanding when it comes to feeding time, he also tells my dog where to sleep ( he takes over her bed alot, and she moves pretty quick when she sees him coming). Anyways when he starts getting "pushy" i pick him up by the back of the neck(at the scruff) and hold his bottom gently and first put him down on the floor, if he comes back up i pick him up again and remove him from the room that i am in, usually the second time works but the sometimes he is bull headed i will pick him up and put him in the spare bedroom and close the door. And it doesn't hurt him (my vet said to pick him up by the scruff of the neck in one hand, and the base of his tail in the other, he is a rather hefty boy at 21lbs) and it reenforces my dominance over him. Just thought i would share this with you.

November 19th, 2006, 08:51 PM
No, picking a cat up by the neck while supporting their body doesn't hurt them, and it's the method other cats use to reinforce dominance over other cats. (Grabbing the neck I mean)
Always make sure to support their body though, and you need to get a pretty good grip or else they're going to spin around and latch on with their claws.
Also, if they scratch you and it causes you to let go of them it's going to reinforce their bad behavior because it causes them to associate scratching you with you releasing them.