Why Do Cats Bite and How to Stop it?
Our fluffy feline friends can be loyal, protective and affectionate, making them fun to play with and great to relax with. However, sometimes other behaviors can replace these attributes which result in biting, scratching or generally undesirable behavior. If you notice your cat biting when petting or persistent biting, there could be a number of reasons why. In this article, we’ll cover the top reasons for cat biting and how to stop it.
Why Do Cats Bite You?
There are several reasons for this, each with varying levels of severity. While some might just be playful or fun, others could be more sinister regarding a medical condition or behavioral problem. We’ve listed the top reasons why cats bite and how you should respond to each scenario.
Why is my cat biting me? Biting is a normal, instinctive action which most pets will experience as they grow up. This stems from their natural instincts to hunt, attack and kill their prey. While it is perfectly normal, it should be removed or at least subdued through proper training to ensure your pet is playful and friendly without being in danger of hurting anyone. We’ll discuss how to do this later in the article.
Have you bought or adopted an adult cat that bites you? If so, it’s likely that your cat wasn’t trained efficiently by their previous owner. Training an adult cat is much more challenging than training a kitten but it’s not impossible. It’ll just take more patience and persistence than usual.
But why do cats purr then bite you? If your cat seems playful and friendly then they suddenly bite you, it’s likely that they simply want to play and don’t realize they’ve overstepped the mark. Or, it could be that your feline friend thought you were being too aggressive and mistook your playing for an attack. If this happens, try playing a little more gently next time. If biting persists then it could indicate there is another reason to blame.
Cats are emotional animals so biting could indicate that they’re sad, angry, tired or any other range of emotions. Although it’s not necessarily a bad thing that your cat bites you on occasion, it could indicate a problem if it becomes regular. So, if your kitty bites you ‘out of the blue’ and it’s an isolated incident, they might have simply been scared by something, or excited to see their favorite human. Alternatively, if your cat begins biting you regularly and they previously hadn’t done so, they could be ill or experiencing pain and trying to tell you about it. Unfortunately, our cats can’t communicate with us very well so scratching and biting are some of the only ways your cat can talk to you. So if your cat begins to bite you regularly and isn’t acting quite like their usual cat-self, it might be best to take a trip to the vet.
Many pet parents seem to ask: “do cats give love bites?” Usually, this is because they know cats are emotional so they think biting can be an affectionate sign, however, this isn’t true. Although cats can bite to show happiness or excitement, they don’t bite just to show that they love you. So, cat biting is a behavior that should be removed through training as it can be dangerous and doesn’t necessarily mean anything good.
How to Stop Cat Biting
If you’ve recently bought or adopted a cat, you’ll probably need to train them to stop biting as it’s a naturally occurring behavior. Or, if your cat has started biting you and the vet has assured you there’s no medical issue to worry about, then you’ll need to start implementing a training routine too. Firstly, you’ll need to make sure you’re playing with your feline friend for at least ten minutes every day. Use a feather, chasing cat toys, or something stuffed with catnip so your cat can act out the ‘hunt’. It’s important that your cat has the chance to play and fulfill their instincts to chase and catch their prey. If you do this for at least ten minutes every day then your cat might not feel the need to bite you very often.
If the biting persists then there are a few more things you could try. Firstly, if your cat biting hand when you play, immediately stand up and walk away, refusing to play with them. Repeat this process each time your cat bites you, ensuring they learn that biting is bad behavior and that you don’t want to play if they bite. Using this ‘ignoring’ training method is good for small incidents when your cat bites for no reason. It should be used over any form of negative reinforcement like squirting them with water or stern behavior. As any vet or cat behavior expert will confirm, negative reinforcement is counter-productive, it usually results in more negative behaviors and simply doesn’t solve any problems. Instead, try the ‘ignoring’ technique as soon as your cat bites you then return to them after a few minutes.
If biting remains persistent after trying the previous technique for up to a few weeks, you might have to contact a professional. Ask your vet for their advice then contact a professional who knows how to handle cats with behavior problems such as aggression. It could be that biting is purely a symptom of anxiety, stress or another mental health condition which needs to be resolved. In this case, a cat behavior specialist is the best person to contact.
Although biting is perfectly normal behavior for cats, it can become problematic especially if it becomes frequent even when unprovoked. By watching out for other behavioral symptoms and seeking professional advice when necessary, you’ll give your precious feline friend the best chance of letting go of this negative behavior. So, with a persistent training regime and by following professional advice, you’ll have a happy and playful kitty who knows where the physical boundaries lie.