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Teaching social play
12-12-2012, 09:16 AM,
#1
SinatraBuddy Offline
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Teaching social play
Hello all :-).

I am wondering if I can get some advice on raising my new little guy. He came to us during hurricane sandy from a friend who found him on her outside window sill - and none of her neighbors knew anything about him. He was very young when we got him - since he could walk,but stumbled a bit still when walking and could not yet run - we are guessing he was between 2 or 3 weeks old when became to us.

He is just the light of my life and is such a amazing little guy - the snuggly-set at I have ever seen - he sleeps pressed up against my neck all night and is with meal the time I am home, except when he is sleeping or playing and he is very very affectionate.

The difficulty is that he pounces on my face and hands. - a lot. And he bites my face and hands too. He is not an aggressive cat at all. He is not "striking" when he bites (which I have seen in feral cats). His eyes are often open and his ears straight up. He sometimes will try to groom my face or lightly bite my nose - and then Hesse,s to get carried away and he bites harder. Other times, I seems like it is playful pouncing and biting. Problem is - he is getting bigger so it is hurting more and more and I have nicks all overly face and hands from him biting and scratching me. He also bit the Pepco guy the other day when he came Undecided.

At first, I didn't want to discipline him at all- it just breaks my heart to not give him everything he wants. But then I realized he would be a happier cat if I taught him properly and he was socialized well. And so I finally got a squirt bottle after doing some research on ways that cats can be trained without making them feel bad. Turns out - he likes water (he also joins my husband in the shower sometimes - ha :-))
One of my friends is a vet assistant and she recommended that I put vinegar in the squirt bottle so that it deters him. I have the bottle with a diluted vinegar solution in it - and I have asked husband to spray me - trying to get it in my eyes - in case of worst scenario ( I would endeavor to squirt near him, not on him, but I want to know what will happen if I miss and get him worse than I plan on). It doesn't hurt my eyes a heck of a lot - mostly the smell is just super yucky And it tickles my nose.
I am afraid to try it on him tho because I don't know how he is different from me.

I do need to figure out a way to stop him from doing this - both to teach him and also because I am getting scared that he will eventually scar my face or hurt my eyes or otherwise badly hurt me- or that he might bite someone else in my home. ( we don't Have kids - but from time to time we have guests).

Furthermore, I am so concerned about him.
My understanding is that he was supposed to be allowed this time with his littler mates to learn social play - and having been denied this time, he is not learning how to play socially properly. This weekend, I got him a couple of the smaller stuffed animals in the doggy isle at the pet store, in hope of him having a couple of simulated friends to play with who are a bit more durable than humans. He does seem to be willing to play with them and I hope that this is a quality way for him to have an outlet for his social play. He still seems to prefer me tho.

Does anyone have experience with this?
How can I teach him to stop biting and pouncing on my face?
Is it safe to use a water bottle with vinegar sprayed close enough to him that he would be deterred by it or get dripped by the mist? Will this be harmful to hi either physically or emotionally? Are there better ways to train cats who like water than this?
Most importantly - does anyone know if it is possible for a human to teach a kitten social play and if so how? Also, will he be developmentally fulfilled without the time with his litter mates? And is there anything I can do to fill this need for him and show him appropriate vs inappropriate social play? What are the best ways for a human to engage in social play with a kitten? I bought some stiffed mice for him, which I have tied to longer strings on the ends of stick, so that he can play with this with the movement - but not my hand - in view. He also have every different type of cat ball that the pet store has to offer as well as a ball of yarn and a few shiny Christmas ornaments (which be chose from our tree ;-)).

I am staring to feel desperate. I am worried about about my little guy and for my own well being. I would be so so grateful for any advice you more experienced pet owners can offer.

Thank you.
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01-01-2013, 05:01 AM,
#2
SinatraBuddy Offline
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RE: Teaching social play
I wanted to write a shorter post in hope that someone can help me:

My kitten was taken from his mom when he was 2 weeks old. He is a biter - he bites my face and hands and I am worried about him and I am worried about him scarring me on my face. I understand that this is not uncommon for kittens who are taken from their liters too soon - they seem to need their liter to learn social play. Does anyone know how I can teach him social play? He is not an aggressive cat - very affectionate and snugglie. He does seem to have some desire not to hurt me - he does not strike like cats do when in fear - just very playful and affectionate and seems not very in control if it (although I am open to ideas that I might be provoking him and how I can not do so). Sometimes he bites really softly. Sometimes he just seems really hyper when he bites hard. He also seems to have some desire to control it but has a hard time - like it is compulsive or something.

I would appreciate any advice so much.

Regarding spraying him -
He likes water (hops in the shower and bath - really likes water...)
A vet assistant recommended I put diluted vinegar in a bottle - which I was afraid of at first.
I tried it on myself and it is sure is irritating - smells terrible and tickles me nose. Does not hurt my eyes tho.
I have since used this to try to deter him - and he does not like this - and sometimes it will deter him - but it seems that the compulsion is still there - he hates the bottle - but he bites my face anyway -

1) does anyone know the most effective way to teach social play?
2) does anyone know an effective deterrent for "disciplining" him that will not hurt him or make him afraid - but will deter him - just in general? My guy seems like be such a happy little fellow and likes everything - even water bottles. I am so happy to see him happy - but struggling to find the way to be a responsible parent and teach him to be around people without biting. Undecided. He bit the Pepco guy the other day -

I would be so grateful for any advice -

Ps:
I hope to make it to the vet this week - I will post here what the vet suggests in case anyone else is struggling with adopting a prematurely orphaned little one -
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01-01-2013, 04:20 PM,
#3
FlanneryCam Offline
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RE: Teaching social play
I would try a few things:
1) Teach your cat "no". If I tell my cat "no" he will not attack me or play too rough. When he gets in one of those moods, I say "no" firmly. Partly, it's about recognizing when your cat is frisky.
2) Get your cat appropriate toys that he can attack and play rough with. These will help deal with his natural inclination to bounce and attack.
3) Get used to it for a while. Your cat is a kitten. They are extra bouncy and silly and sometimes play too rough. Remember to try to teach your cat "no" so he associates his behaviour with his actions.
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