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Unprovoked Cat Bites
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Unprovoked Cat Bites

Hi, we adopted a male cat from a shelter in February. He turned 1 back in June. Since we have had him, he will attack me or my kids....always our legs. He is neutered and his front paws are declawed....he was like this at the time of adoption. I am tired of the pain of the bites and it is really getting on my nerves. He will always crouch as if he is ready to jump on prey, then run and grab our legs. My 3 yr old son gets a lot of the bites. Our cat will wrap his paws around our son's legs and just steadily bite him....we usually have to throw a shoe or couch pillow to stop him. I have no idea what to do. I am afraid if I return him to the shelter he will be euthanized. I also don't want to put this problem on someone else. Any suggestions??
Tags: cats, bites, cat, bite
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A cat becoming a biter is one of the possible risks that are taken when the decision to declaw is made.  A cat's claws are its first line of defense, and in the absence of claws, it's not uncommon for a cat to become a biter.  Of course, not all cats who are declawed become biters or suffer psychological problems leading to other negative behavioral changes, but it's not uncommon.

Declawing is NOT a minor operation.  It isn't just a matter of removing the claws themselves.  Declawing involves the amputation of each toe at the first joint.  Imagine how you would have to alter the way you do things if you had each finger amputated at the first joint to remove your fingernails.  Cats don't understand WHY it's done, they just know that they're left with the results.  Sometimes the cat has actual physical pain that remains after the amputations.  They're not able to stretch their legs normally, which involves grabbing with the claws and pulling.  Sometimes kitty litter feels funny to them without claws, causing them to develop inappropriate elimination habits,.  

I would talk to a vet and ask them to recommend someone who does behavioral modification.  If they don't know of anyone, call around and try to find someone.  It's sometimes possible to rehabilitate them so that they lose the bad habits.  Your cat is young.  In his case, it might be something he will grow out of as he gets older.  Lots of young cats, especially males, like to play by stalking people and "attacking" them, however the biting that you describe makes me think that he has developed this behavior as a result of the declawing.  If he still had his claws, he would probably still have the stalk/play behavior, but possibly without the biting.

If you can't find someone to work with you on behavior modification, I wouldn't send him back to the shelter, because you're right, unless it's a no-kill shelter there is always a chance he'll be euthanized.  If you absolutely can't keep him any longer, look on www.petfinder.org and try to find a rescue group near you who will take him and place him in a home without small children, or one that has experience with problem cats.  If you need help finding a rescue group near you, PM me and I will help you.

Ghilly
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You can also try spraying him with water everytime he does bite. I have performed this method on my cat with great results. My cat is also declawed. It was my choice. He never had any pain, stopped using his litter box or became a biter. My cat acts just as if he still had claws.  No behavioral changes at all.

When this operation is not performed well, the cat does get really messed up in terms of behavioral issues. Some vets will use clippers when actually using clippers is NOT the right way to perform this procedure, it's mean and obsolete. One of the horror stories I read was that the vet was in such a hurry he didn't even wait for the cat to be fully asleep. He would take off the claws and with each cut the kitten would cry. The vet's excuse was he was late for other appointments. The vet tech was just speechless. She could not blieve what she was seeing.

I guess my point is unfortunately not all vets do what they're supposed to do and instead hurt the kitties. Try to understand what your pet has been through. First he was put through that horrible experience which obviously meesed up his whole life forever and he doesn't even know why. Second, he was put in a cage at a local shelter, basically abandoned. Try to bear with your pet and don't look at him as a threat. Instead, try to see an animal who has been hurt...suffering the consequences of being declawed most likely the wrong way. Like any surgery, if the doctors do a good job, the patient comes out perfect. If the doctor fails to do a good job, the patient loses. I always said if my cat turned into a biter I would put up with him no matter what. There is always a way out. Spray him with water. He'll get it, I can assure you that.
Does he have toys to play with? If he doesn't use his toys, try different ones. My cat's favorite toy is a plastic colored flower even though he has plenty of stuffed mice. Sometimes you just gotta find his weakness. Encourage him to bite his toys by playing with him and throwing toys at him if you haven't tried it. One more thing, do you play with him? Sometimes they do that to get attention. Perhaps he just wants to play, not hurt you, he just doesn't know boundaries.

I wanted to point out that cats don't need to be declawed to become biters. Some cats are naturally biters, claws an all. What happens sometimes is, between a bite and a scratch what we notice the most is the scractch. When there are no claws to scratch our skin and make us bleed then the only thing left is the mouth. It's just how they are. A lot of cats bite hard even with claws. My husband has been through that.

Let us know what you decide to do. I hope you don't give up on him. Good Luck hun
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Cody, My kitty does the same exact thing you're describing. Its almost everytime when I walk down to the bedroom or living room when he runs right up to me, wraps his front paws around me for a quick nip and then takes off. I've even fallen down a few times because he has cut me off!!

My cat his not declawd and he acts this way and he is the same age as your cat it seems. I will also be sitting on the floor and he walks up to me, bites me on the arm and then takes off into the other room.

I reccomend the squirt bottle like pretty kitty has suggested. Also clapping your hands once with a stern "NO!" are other suggestions I've heard that can be useful. I've also heard when petting and he bites I heard that if you drop him on the floor and walk away that works too.

These are all suggestions I have heard that I am passing on. My cat is a lover but he likes to play rough. Partly because we are rough and play games like "tag" and "seek and destroy"
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