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Old 01-20-2005, 07:28 PM
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panache45 is online now
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: NE Ohio (the 'burbs)
Posts: 45,300

Help me build a Skinner Box for my kitty.

I've got two cats: Little Bear is a 16.5-year old male, and Maya is a four-month-old female. Both are altered, and the kitten is declawed.

Maya is very intelligent and playful, and has a wonderfully sweet disposition. Except that she bites when she's playing, both with Little Bear and with people. She's never bitten out of meanness or aggression, only as part of play. Her teeth are very sharp, and draw blood. (By the way, the declawing has not been a factor in this behavior.)

When she's caught in the act, she gets reprimanded. I tried using a squirt gun, but she actually likes it. I've tried distracting her with toys, but this is only a temporary fix. And I can't be with her 24/7, so most of the time she gets away with it. Little Bear is too old to defend himself, so he just complains and hisses at her, which has no effect.

I'm convinced that she doesn't understand that the reprimands are related to her behavior. I need to get her in a controlled environment where she won't be distracted, where I can concentrate on teaching her that her biting behavior has negative consequences, and more importantly, that non-biting behavior has positive consequences. The last thing I want is to make her neurotic or defensive. I don't want to jeopardize her wonderful qualities in the process; I only want to rid her of this one behavior. And I'd rather not have to keep her in it for prolonged periods of time, either.

So what are the nuts and bolts of building this controlled, yet nurturing, environment? What would be an appropriate way to administer both reward and punishment, that will have a permanent, positive effect on her?


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