How to stop a cat from biting?
Bitey cat? It’s not a cat’s job to be lovely and gentle. Cats are predators and sometimes your fingers are the victims. But you needn’t suffer in perpetuity.
Updated on the 19/12/2019, 15:27
In fact, there are multiple reasons why your cat might be nippy. Rather than accept this anti-social behaviour, why not find out how to stop a cat from biting?
Why your cat keeps biting people
It will come as no surprise that your cat’s biting is a sign of aggression. But why, when you feed and house the creature and give it nothing but love, would it show aggression towards you?
Well, nobody said having a cat was going to involve unconditional love. That’s for dogs and children. But there are many different things that can anger your cat enough to make it aggressive in an otherwise peaceful situation.
If your cat begins a new habit of biting you, think about what is new in its environment. Is there a new member of the household? Has the cat had some trauma? Are you stroking it in a different way to usual?
Some cats simply don’t like human contact. There’s a thin line between how much caressing is too much for a cat. Other cats may have injuries or sickness that makes them over-tender – so stroking them as normal actually hurts.
Your cat will probably always continue to bite to some extent. It’s in the demon’s nature. But you should be able to find a way to reduce or control your cat’s biting.
6 Ways to stop your cat from biting
Tip #1: Lead by example
Never show aggression in response to a bitey cat. It’s only likely to make things worse. And if the cat becomes more aggressive, it can do quite serious damage by biting or scratching you or a child.
Tip #2: Look out for the signs
One thing you can do is to modify your own behaviour. If it seems the cat bites because it doesn’t like stroking, either quit stroking the cat altogether or learn to read its reactions more accurately. If your cat starts to become tense, stiff, or irritable when you’re showing it love, just walk away.
Tip #3: Make playtime about paws, not teeth
If the cat tends to bite when you’re playing with it, train the creature to play more gently. You can do this by giving it a treat when it plays with its paws rather than its teeth. Meanwhile, give the beast toys that it can bite and scratch to its tiny heart’s content. That way, it uses up its aggression on inanimate objects and not your face. Again, treat the cat when it bites the toy, but never when it bites a person.
Tip #4: Consider neutering your cat
If your cat bites without apparent provocation – for example hissing and biting at you when you walk past – you’ve got yourself an aggressive cat. Possibly it feels territorial over some areas of the house. This can especially be the case if you have multiple pets. In this case, you might want to consider neutering your cat, since neutered moggies are less territorial.
Tip #5: Take the cat to an analyst
Anyway, it’s always worth thinking about taking an aggressive cat to see the vet. There could be an underlying health problem that is making the creature more bitey than the average cat. Or it could be a behavioural problem, and it would be a good idea for a vet or animal behaviourist to analyse the problem and advise you what to do.
Tip #6: Don’t ignore or appease the problem
Don’t ignore the problem because it won’t go away by itself. And never give a cat treats to appease it. This will seem like a reward and just encourage more aggressive behaviour.
Bitey kitten syndrome
Most of this advice is mostly applicable to full-grown cats. You can allow a bit more leeway with kittens, while being careful not to encourage bitey behaviour.
Kittens are naturally more playful. And they play by biting and play-fighting. You’ll notice the creature pouncing a lot too. It’s just learning about its natural instincts.
This is a great opportunity to reduce the chances of your kitten becoming bitey when it gets older. Make sure that you never allow it to bite your fingers or other people. If it does so, don’t punish the beast, but don’t reward it either. You can, however, treat the kitten when it plays nicely. Again, this can be when it plays gently with humans, or more aggressively with approved toys.
Ultimately, cats are predators. They were domesticated to kill mice, not as companions or side-kicks, like dogs. But while you shouldn’t be surprised if this means your cat likes to bite you more than to hug you, you don’t need to accept bitey behaviour from your cute little monster.