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Old 08-25-2008, 10:16 PM
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Default I.. I think I have a problem...

I thought it was just a phase or something, but the kittens seem to have developed a serious resource-guarding issue with food. They are fine when there is loads of food or they're not very hungry, but if they each have their own portions and there isn't an endless sea of food within sight they get VERY growly about it... and snarl and claw each other, and if the other kitten doesn't back off they bite and get into small screaming matches until I break it up.

Morri's the worst, Nolan the least. They're better with me - only growl a little and gently claw me, but then leave my hand alone after a second or two when they remember that I don't take their food.

I KNOW this is a dog-training forum, but I just want to know - do I deal with this the same way you deal with dogs?

I don't know what I did wrong.
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Old 08-25-2008, 10:50 PM
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I am having the same problem with the little girl (The tiny 3 month old). She is food OBSESSED! There is always food available, but we have to put her in a crate when we are eating, or she won't leave us alone. And if our hands smell like food, she doesn't care at all about taking a chunk out of our hand. And she growls at the other kittens when they get wet food once a day. She was a bottle baby..and I have had problems with other bottle babies of mine. It could be a bottle baby thing!

You didn't do ANYTHING wrong!! It just happens! Some of my cats prefer their own plate of wet food, rather than sharing with the other cats. So I give them their own plate.
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Old 08-26-2008, 11:46 AM
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I am having the same problem with the little girl (The tiny 3 month old). She is food OBSESSED! There is always food available, but we have to put her in a crate when we are eating, or she won't leave us alone. And if our hands smell like food, she doesn't care at all about taking a chunk out of our hand. And she growls at the other kittens when they get wet food once a day. She was a bottle baby..and I have had problems with other bottle babies of mine. It could be a bottle baby thing!

You didn't do ANYTHING wrong!! It just happens! Some of my cats prefer their own plate of wet food, rather than sharing with the other cats. So I give them their own plate.


I never had problems with mine - one is food-crazy, but I can do anything to them with their food.

The problem is when I get attacked for it... if they are grabbing the hands of a human they knows and growling, I doubt they'd be nicer to new adopters.

Does anyone think I should deal with this differently? Input? Please? Because my plan is to deal with them the same way you would a resource-guarding dog, and I just want to make sure that wouldn't be a bad thing. I don't want to just ignore the problem and leave them alone when they eat, it will only get worse.
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Old 08-26-2008, 11:55 AM
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Maybe you should post in the behavior section of the cat forum, you'll probably get a lot of ideas there.

ETA: Talk to Leslie too. She may have an idea.
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Old 08-26-2008, 11:56 AM
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Not sure how old your kittens are, but I've seen many littermates (of kittens) act that way when they're first getting tasty food when quite young. Especially if they're getting something like raw or canned..something they really value. The ones I've seen have always grown out of it, and I've not seen any attack humans or their feline housemates as adults over food.
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Old 08-26-2008, 01:05 PM
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From my experience, they grow out of it!! I have yet to have one who did it when they were a young kitten, who still did it once they become an older, adoptable kitten!

I think the reason they do it a lot of the time has to do with them being from the situations they were from, with lack of food. Such as their mother being a stray cat, and leaving them for longer periods of time looking for food for herself,etc.
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Old 08-26-2008, 08:55 PM
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How old are they? Until they're at the "half grown" stage, scratched up hands are almost inevitable with kittens. I trained mine not to scratch by yelping "ow!" and then ignoring them for thirty seconds. Even at that, I was scratched up a lot. Hands just make for very tempting toys for kittens.

Are you sure they're fighting as opposed to using the food as an excuse to playfight? When I first got my two as kittens (at about eight weeks old) they would act like they were going to kill each other (and it sounded like it too) . . . and then they'd curl up together for a nap. Are they drawing blood from each other?

What does resource-guarding training entail? Cats are trainable (especially kittens), but they're fundamentally different from dogs.
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Old 08-26-2008, 10:50 PM
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7 weeks. And I'm not complaining about scratching, Boemy.. they are kittens and that's normal. I have actually had kittens before, and unsurprisingly, remember this stage. It's nailing me when a kitten has food in their mouth that I have a problem with. None left marks on me, but it's the intent that is bad. And yes, I am sure it's real fighting. No drawing of blood but quite a few nicks, scratches, and hurt feelings between kittens. When these guys play it usually doesn't involve growling or loud, continuous screaming and permanent attachment to another kitten's face.

From the basics I know of, basically hand-feeding and teaching them you are not a thread to their food, to give a short explanation.

Grab, Punky, that's really reassuring. Thanks. Cristy, I'll give her a call in the morning to ask.. maybe Lisa, too..
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