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Dr. Taus
Dr. Taus, Veterinarian
Category: Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 505
Experience:  Veterinarian with experience in equine and small animal medicine.
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my orange male cat, 8 years old, was taken away from 3 small

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my orange male cat, 8 years old, was taken away from 3 small kids throwing him around like a stuffed animal.The vet said he was 2-3 weeks old. his eyes had just opened. He is a very healthy cat. except that when he is picked up by me or anyone , he starts biting. I don't punish him for obvious reasons, and love him a great deal. Please help me. Thank you for your advice
Hi there,

I'm sorry to hear about the biting. What an awful thing to have happened to Rascal when he was just a little kitten!

I think that we can trace the biting behavior back to his rough start in life. In a normal cat colony, adult cats correct kittens (by swatting or spitting) when they play too rough or respond to others by biting too hard. When kittens miss that 4-12 week old window with their mothers and biting becomes an established habit in an adult cat, though, it becomes harder to deal with.

It's great that you aren't punishing him. Cats generally don't respond well to or learn from punishment-- it just makes them crabby.

If he is treat motivated, I would suggest sitting and using treats to get him to come to you on his terms and sit on your lap. If you can start doing this regularly, he may be more amenable to being picked up.

I also recommend play therapy. First, spend at least 30-45 minutes every day actively playing with Rascal. Use toys like fishing lures and strings to let him be a predator and chase things, and every now and then, catch and attack the toy. Don't let him chase your fingers or toes. Then, if he's on a surface and you need him to move, rather than picking it up, throw a passive toy like a toy mouse or a ball of socks for him to chase after. It gives him a good reason to move without you having to pick him up and make him unhappy. If you are petting him or moving to pick him up and he bites, throw the toy. This redirects his aggression to toys rather than your body parts.

Some people advocate hissing or spitting at the cat when biting occurs, but I find this works best in young kittens. Older cats just tend to become irritated and bite more.

Cats are unpredictable in their behavior, and since this is an established habit, it may improve slowly over time, but you will need to continue to be patient with him. He may never be a cat who enjoys being picked up or can be picked up by strangers.

I hope this is helpful. If so, please rate me positively, and don't hesitate to let me know how I can help futher.
Dr. Taus and 2 other Veterinary Specialists are ready to help you
Hi David,

I'm just following up on our conversation about your pet. How is everything going?