How To Stop Your Cat From Biting
Does your cat bite you?
Do you find it annoying? Wish it would stop?
Look, it’s not uncommon for a cat to softly bite their human partner from time to time.
Usually, there is no cause for alarm. It’s not being done out of aggression or fear.
But it’s something many owners wish to curtail.
Why Do Cats Bite?
Biting is normal behavior for a kitten. It is one of the ways they communicated and interacted with their brothers and sisters.
Kittens and adult cats may bite for different reasons.
For kittens, biting and mouthing is usually a socialization method, but adults may bite for a variety of reasons.
An adult cat might start biting, seemingly unprovoked. It’s normally not done out of aggression, so it can be confusing to the owner.
So why do they do it? What are they trying to communicate?
They may be trying to give you a message. Maybe they want you to stop doing what you’re doing. Maybe they’re telling you they aren’t enjoying the current contact or interaction.
Most of the time, when a kitty bites, she is doing it for a reason that makes sense to her, even if that behavior is a mystery to you.
Cats use their paws and mouth to explore what’s around them, it’s natural for them to bite a little.
As they grow, they learn to lessen the force of their biting and to paw at things without having their nails out.
So when your pet gives you a bite, she is trying to communicate something with you. Maybe she is telling you she has had enough petting, or that her stomach is off-limits.
Maybe he wants you to do something. Maybe he wants you to get up and feed him. Maybe he knows that if he gives you a little nip, you’ll stop doing something he doesn’t like.
Maybe he’s responding to a threat. Maybe he suddenly sees your behavior as a threat. Or maybe he’s just not feeling good.
Before you can stop this behavior, you’ll have to first figure out why they are doing it.
Playful Cat Biting
Are you dealing with unwanted biting that occurs when petting or playing?
It happens. Your kitty is enjoying being petted and then suddenly she’s had enough.
It’s her way of telling you she needs a little space. A little time alone.
It can be hard to tell when your cat has had enough. Maybe she will stop purring. Maybe she will stare at you. Maybe her tail twitches loudly. You will have to learn to read her body language.
Respect her wishes if you can interpret them.
Cats have a natural hunting instinct. Their predatory instinct leads them to notice movement and to try to hunt down whatever it is that is moving in their territory.
They want to follow, pounce, grab and bite their prey. Sometimes their prey might be your sock.
If you play roughly with him, he will often use his mouth and paws to play roughly with you. It’s normal.
And meowing isn’t the only way your kitty can communicate with you. Small nibbles can be meaningful as to what her mood is.
Aggressive Cat Biting
Feline biting serves several functions.
In most households, it happens during over-excited playtime and it is not a sign of aggressive behavior. But it can be.
Sometimes it can be an expression of aggression.
If you are playing roughly with your kitty and he bites you, but turns around right away and wants more physical contact, then that bite was just a friendly play nip.
Aggressive behavior is often accompanied by hissing, growling, a defensive posture or other hostile signs.
Your cat may be responding to some type of threat that you may not be totally aware of. The threat could be a different person in the house, a different animal in the house, or even an animal he sees out the window.
He could be confused, frightened, fearful or frustrated. He could be instinctively trying to assert dominance in his territory.
Maybe It’s Just a Way of Communicating Something
Your kitty may bite as just a form of communication with you.
Maybe instead of using a meow, that nip means she wants to go outside or she doesn’t like her new food. If she nips at you and immediately stands up, see if she wants you to follow her somewhere.
If your pet snaps at you, it could be a health issue. Maybe he doesn’t feel good. He could be sick or sore or irritable and in a bad mood.
If he never bit you before, and suddenly begins to bite, you should carefully inspect and watch him for something wrong. And don’t be afraid to take him to the veterinarian.
How to Stop My Cat From Biting
There are reasons a cat may bite.
She could be agitated, scared, or hurt. And she doesn’t want anyone touching her.
She could be worried about your dog or an outside cat and direct that aggression towards you.
She could have been chased and teased by the young child your pet sitter brought along last week when you were out of town.
There is a reason when an animal becomes aggressive.
If your pet has never bitten you before, something has triggered it.
In order to stop this behavior, you’ll have to figure out what is the cause of it.
It could be your pet is hurt or not feeling good.
If the cat flattens his ears or starts a low growl when you want to pet him a little, he’s warning you that now is not a good time for it.
Take notice and slowly take back your hand. Speak softly to him, but resist the overwhelming urge to touch him.
It will be up to him to come to you for affection.
But if you can rule out illness and injury as a reason why your kitty is acting up, you can check other behavior.
If your cat bites when you play roughly with him, maybe you will need to stop playing roughly with him.
You can transition from rough play to using toys. Keep him engaged by using small toys designed to simulate the type of prey outdoor cats experience.
All cats need playtime. Be sure to give yours some a couple of times each day.
Sometimes lonely or bored cats get aggressive. They need to be engaged and kept entertained.
Give him increased attention and play, including interactive toys, to use some of his energy and make him aware of how much you love him.
Changing kitty behavior will require patience, but you’re up to the job.
How to Stop Your Kitten From Biting
Kittens bite things. It’s what they do.
It’s a way for them to explore their new world.
And kittens bite other kittens.
It’s a way to show affection and to play.
And by biting their brothers, sisters, and mother, they learn how to bite softly and how to paw without scratching too much.
Why Do Kittens Bite So Much?
If a kitten is removed from her family at a very early age, she may not have learned the lessons her family would have taught her.
Kittens who haven’t been completely socialized don’t know the rules of fighting and playing and don’t know that their teeth and claws hurt others.
The act of play-fighting makes up the majority of a kitten’s day. They engage in mock hunting drills and wrestle with anything they can get close to.
Your kitten will bite anything that moves. Or doesn’t move. It’s a natural instinct.
While it’s fine that your new kitty bites and claws, you will need to train her to not bite human fingers. They need to learn that it isn’t acceptable.
They will have plenty of toys and other items to chew on and scratch. And you can reward them for doing so.
Cats that bite as adults were generally never taught to not bite when they were kittens.
How Do I Stop My Kitten From Biting?
Kittens are going to play. And your fingers are just the perfect size for them to chew on.
You can shape their play habits to not involve your fingers in their mouths. Do it when they are young.
Kittens mock fight with each other. It’s how they practice becoming hunters. They will do the same with you too. You will get scratched.
During their first two years, kittens are curious and use their mouths to learn more about things around your house.
They do this less and less while they grow older, but it is still a valuable tool for them.
Provide your new kitty with all kinds of toys and play items. Introduce one or two new ones each day.
When you play with your new kitty, be sure to stop a play session when your kitten gets too aggressive or bites too hard.
Your kitten will eventually understand that biting you ends her playtime.
It will take time, but they will learn.
Tips To Stop Your Cat From Biting
In order to be comfortable around your pet, you have to be able to trust them.
While most pets may bite once in a while when they’re startled or scared, there are some techniques you can use to keep your kitty from biting you in most other situations.
How to Train Your Cat to Stop Biting:
- Try to determine why this behavior is happening. This will guide your actions going forward.
- In order to change behavior, you need to be consistent. Your pet will not understand erratic behavior. You can’t accept some nibbling one day but complain and yell the next day.
- Reward their good behavior or gently punish their bad behavior immediately after the action.
- An overly-aggressive male cat may be neutered.
- Some cats will respond to a stern and loud voice from their human. Some will not.
- If she is biting you to get your attention — ignore her. Don’t respond to it.
- Change her form of communication. Respond quickly to a meow with the action you believe she is interested in having you take. She will learn to do the new action next time.
- Be careful with negative words or actions. Be careful with any punishment. You don’t want him afraid of you.
- Positively reinforce good behavior – when kitty is chewing and clawing on a toy, reward with affection and maybe a treat.
- Make sure all members of the household are on board and follow the same guidelines.
- Don’t offer your fingers or toes as toys. It might start okay when they are a tiny kitten, but you don’t want a grown-up cat to think your finger is their prey.
- Keep introducing or exchanging toys and stuffed animals so kitty doesn’t get bored.
- Include a toy that dispenses a treat or contains catnip.
- When kitty plays with you and doesn’t bite or scratch — reward and praise him.
- If you get hurt by their teeth or a claw, stop playing. Take a time-out. Do it enough times, they should get the message.
- If she bites you, stop and turn your back on her. Don’t eyeball her or confront her. Just ignore her for a while.
- If ignoring him doesn’t work, try picking them up and putting them in another room that may not be as much fun for him.
- If your hand is caught in your cat’s mouth, try not to pull it away. Pulling away is the natural tendency, but it encourages kitty to hang on even harder. Instead, push your hand towards her until she releases you.
- Cats don’t really understand clothing. If you let them scratch or bite your clothes, they may do it to your skin next time. Don’t count on them to understand the difference.
- If you can, try to initiate replacement behavior. Come up with a replacement behavior and consistently reward her for doing it.
- Don’t do any physical punishment. No matter how angry you are in the moment, just stop for ten seconds and walk away. And don’t hit them.
- Don’t do any strong negative reinforcement such as squirting with water or anything that will scare them. They may associate you with being scared or fearful.
- Increase the amount of playtime. Tire her out. Drain her energy. Cats need to play every day. And it should include pretend predatory play that resembles what they would do in the wild.
- Take away or reduce things that may increase your pet’s anxiety or things they might worry about.
- Take the time to really learn where your pet prefers to be touched. Maybe she doesn’t really like her stomach or tail touched.
- Maybe your kitty doesn’t really like to be held. We had a kitty that only liked to be held in one room, being held in any other room made her anxious. She didn’t like it.
- If he seems a little agitated, maybe wait a while before trying to pet him. Try to recognize his moods and body language.
- Gradually gain their trust. It might take weeks or it might take years. Let him know he’s safe with you.
- Don’t surprise her. Let her see your hand coming towards her. Don’t surprise her from behind.
- Always keep a toy within reach so you can substitute it for your hand or finger.
- Some cats like being pet and handled, but only up to a point. After that point, they find it irritating. Pay attention to how your kitty behaves. For example, maybe they suddenly stop purring. That means the session is over.
You need to trust your pet completely. There should not be any biting from your kitty.
You can train him to stop doing it.
You will need some patience and discipline.
Be consistent. Stock up on the treats. It may take some time, but your cat wants to please you.
NOTE: If your cat really bites you, if it breaks the skin, you should take the wound seriously. There are bacteria in a cats’ mouth that can lead to infection.
And if your pet doesn’t respond to training and seems overly aggressive, they may have a health problem and need attention from a veterinarian.
Also, no content in this article or website is intended to be medical, health, professional, or veterinarian advice. This article and content are meant to be for general information only. It is not intended for you to base your healthcare decisions on it. Please seek out professional advice in your area to help with your unique situation.