Home & Leisure

My Pet World: How to deter dog from digging holes in back yard

By Cathy M. Rosenthal, Tribune Content Agency on

Dear Cathy,

My 1-year-old cat, Princess, is affectionate and sweet, but when she rolls on her back and wants to be petted, she grabs my hand with her front paws and pulls them in her mouth and then the back claws attack. This is becoming a serious problem.

Is there any way I can break her of this habit? She does not like to be held for more than a few seconds. If I pet her for too long, she grabs my hand.

--Francine, East Meadow, New York

Dear Francine,

It's natural for cats to use their claws and mouths during play. To train your cat not to bite, always use toys instead of hands for playtime. No exceptions. For example, when she rolls on her back, do not reach in to pet her. You will get nailed every time. Instead, get a stuffed sock or wire toy and let her attack that while on her back. Reward her with praise or a treat for using the toy.


As for petting, learn to read her body language, like dilated pupils or a slowly swishing tail, to determine when she has had enough. If she always bites after 10 strokes, then only pet her seven times and stop for at least five minutes before re-engaging her. If she does bite, say "no" firmly, and turn your back to her for at least one minute or put her in a separate room for a few minutes.

If you don't use your hands for playtime and learn to reward her when she gets it right and ignore her when she misbehaves, she should over time learn the rules of engagement.


(Cathy M. Rosenthal is a longtime animal advocate, author, columnist and pet expert who has more than 25 years in the animal welfare field. Send your pet questions, stories and tips to Please include your name, city, and state. You can follow her @cathymrosenthal.)




Spectickles Hi and Lois Family Circus Chip Bok Mallard Fillmore 9 Chickweed Lane