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My Pet World: Pent-up energy often the reason for feline ‘love bites’

Cathy M. Rosenthal, Tribune Content Agency on

Dear Cathy,

I have two tuxedo cat brothers who I adopted at 3 months old. They are now a year old. Both are adorable, loving and are basically “good” boys (with the occasional cat antics). However, one of them, Petey, has gradually started to give me love “bites” (no broken skin) on my feet when I get out of bed in the morning and when I’m getting their food ready. This started a few months ago on occasion, but now it is a routine thing. Each time it happens, I tell him “no” and push him away. This doesn’t seem to be working. Any suggestions? — Victoria, West Islip, New York

Dear Victoria,

“Love biting” is typically a form of pet-induced aggression in which a cat is telling their person they have had enough stroking. When they bite at your feet, it’s often the result of similar pent-up energy. They want to play, but the behavior is mildly aggressive. Moving targets — like feet — kick in a cat’s instinct to “hunt,” which ends with them biting (controlling) their prey.

With cats, increased playtime and distractions work best to alter this type of behavior.

Introduce more play time during the day: 10 minutes two to three times a day of active play that gets them moving. Keep plenty of toys around but rotate them so your cats don’t get bored. Use puzzle toys to keep their minds active. There are a lot of automated cat toys on the market that can be turned on and left because they are on a timer and will turn off by themselves.


As for your feet, when you get up from bed or are preparing your cats’ food, toss Petey’s favorite treats or a toy across the floor so he is heading in the opposite direction.

Dear Cathy,

I have a problem with my 13-year-old Lab/border collie mix named Lucy. For most of her life, she has been barking at people who deliver anything to the house. She also barks at repair men and people we know who come to the house. She even barks at people walking by the house if she doesn't like how they look. I have tried to get her to stop by distracting her with a noise, calling her name and offering her treats. The problem is no one else is consistent with the training. We have to put her on leash before letting people in, but once they are in, she is pretty much OK and begging for attention. She still barks at them when they leave and come back though. Is there any hope for change at this age? — Lisa, Allentown, Pennsylvania

Dear Lisa,


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