Monday, August 21, 2006

Cat bites during petting


Cat bites during petting



This scenario has happened hundreds of thousands of times. You're petting a cat on its head and back and the cat seems to be in ecstasy. It's purring like a little motorcycle, looking absolutely content, when all of a sudden the cat pounces on your hand and takes a bite. It may even throw in a few paw swipes as well.

Usually the biting and/or scratching isn't too hard and it rarely breaks the skin but it still hurts and the recipient feels betrayed. What is going on? What's wrong with the cat? Is it Demonic? Psychotic? Dumb?

None of the above. Petting aggression in cats is absolutely normal. The reasons to petting aggression are not fully understood but research suggests that it has to do with the fact that the cat has mixed emotions about the whole petting phenomenon. Most adult cats that aren't related don't touch each other much except for fighting and sexual episodes. So even though the cats seems content, it may realize that this is not normal and an instinctive predatory response is elicited which results in biting.

Don't take it personally and don't punish or hit the cat. Understand and OBSERVE the cat's warning signs. Keep the petting sessions fairly short and end the session the second the cat exhibits warning signs. The best way to deal with this situation is to be aware of the cat's body language. The cat will always give you signals that it has had enough of of your petting. The key signal to watch for is a twitching tail and a body that starts to tense up. Ears may turn or flicker and the cat's head may also turn toward your hand. This is a classic predatory response and the cat's way of telling you to IMMEDIATELY stop petting and end the session.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Pets in pain !


My dog or cat is in pain - pets in pain

When our pets act in unusual fashions, it is often because they are sick or they are in pain. Our pets cannot verbally tell us when they are in pain, so unless they are crying or communicating in a loud unusual way, we may well be unaware that they are suffering. The level of pain and an individual pet's tolerance to it will also determine how a pet will react to it. When the pain is less severe, or chronic but bearable, we must become more vigilant observers of our pets' body language. Cats, as a survival instinct (not to alert other predators that they are weak) can become unusually quiet when they are in pain. Dogs will sometimes exhibit this same 'extra quiet' behaviour when they are in pain, or they may avoid normal activities like walking up the stairs when they are suffering. This is especially true of older dogs that may be suffering with arthritis. As mentioned, the unusual behaviour itself is a sign that there is a problem.

Sometimes there is pretty clear evidence that something is not right with your pet. The repetitive licking or repetitive scratching of a particular area is often a good sign that there is a problem that indicates pain. If you suspect that your pet is in pain or has suffered a trauma somewhere on its body, you can attempt to verify this by GENTLY running your hands along your entire pet's body. Any sudden cries, sounds, twitches or even instinctual attempts to bite you, can be good indicators.

There are times when you just know your pet is in pain. After any type of surgery for example, your pet will be in pain. If your pet is visibly and badly scratched up after a fight with another pet it will be in pain. There are terrific pain medications that your veterinarian can prescribe. Definitely ask your vet about pain relief for your pet and of course, bring your pet to see a veterinarian if you suspect your pet is in pain.

Note: If you suspect your pet is in pain, you must take it to the veterinarian. Never give human medications to a pet that is in pain. Many human medications like acetaminophen (Tylenol) are poisonous or deadly to pets.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Playing with kittens - biting kittens


Playing with kittens - biting kittens

There is no debating that new kittens are amongst the most fun creatures that you can play with. They jump, they're cuddly, frisky and love to nip at your hands. When kittens nip at you it's cute and it doesn't hurt...but they don't stay kittens for long.

Cat owners often make the mistake of using their hands and fingers as cat toys.They drag their hands along the floor pretending it's a spider or some other chase toy. Kitty pounces, nips and it's a cute game. This is a huge mistake because what ends up happening is that the kitten now associates your hands with the hunting and biting game. This is a hard instinct for the cat to break so never reinforce it by playing in this way at any time. NEVER use your hands as toys when playing with kittens.

Always use cat toys to actively play with your cat. Bendable plastic poles with strings or feathers attached are great. Any toy that dangles and moves somewhat like prey should entice your kitten when you are at the other end moving it slowly. Bring these toys out whenever you are ready to play. Have different toys out already so that kitty can play when you are not there.

If your kitten or cat does bite or nip at you, don't scold it. Instead, redirect its attention away from your hands with a cat toy. That way the cat will associate biting and play with a toy that is not you.