My cat has a biting obsession

by Ashley
(Indianapolis, IN)

My male cat Marley has started this thing where he meows and lunges either at my feet or my arms and bites me. He wont let go, he'll just keep a hold of me and if I try to move he'll move with me and keep meowing. If I push him off he'll sometimes try again or just walk away.

It happens pretty randomly but it has been going on for about 3 weeks. Any suggestions? He is about 7 months old & still has not been spayed. I do plan to get him to a vet soon.

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Cat Ankle Biting
by: Kurt (Cat Lovers Only Admin)

Cat ankle biting is common behavior. It's an ambush technique. One thing you can do is make sure your cat gets plenty of playtime and exercise. That will burn off some of that pent up hunt and kill energy. Use fishing pole or wand type toys to encourage your cat to stalk and bite the toys, and not you. A leather belt can work well for this too.

When your cat does get a hold of you, the reaction is usually to move away. But, that's just what prey does so the cat will just try harder. What you want to try is to push towards the cat, using a loud sound (firm "no!" or clapping, or even a hiss) and then see if you can break free. Spray bottles may work, but I have found that some cats don't respond well at all to it and it may create more problems.

Another thing you can do, if you're up for it, is clicker training. Clicker training is a common training technique using a clicker to make a noise when the cat exhibits a desired behavior. It's based on similar principles used by whale and dolphin trainers where you ignore your cat's bad behavior, and reward his good behavior, associating it with a sound and food.

It's often used in conjunction with a mat where the object is to get the cat to stay on the mat and not chase ankles. It works extremely well, is easier than it sounds, and is often recommend for ankle biting behavior in cats. You can get tools and training materials for clicker training from Karen Pryor's site.

Here are some more resources that may help:

About.com has a number of pages on aggressive behavior in cats.

Catsplay has some information as well.

Feliway spray has been known to stop many types of behavior problems in cats. You can get the spray and spray your pant legs and other surfaces, or get a diffuser and let it fill the room.

Good luck with him and let us know how it goes,

-Kurt

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