Cute, cuddly, furry little bundle of joy or Satan in a fur jacket? Ever wonder why your cat changes from the loving feline friend you always wanted to the fur coat with teeth when you least expect it?
Whatever the reason your cat has for biting, it is important to know you can stop cats from biting no matter what the reason is for biting. Cat bites hurt, and can get infected, so it is important to get the behavior under control quickly.
Why do cats bite?
Biting is one of the most common behavior issues that people have with cats. Scratching and urinating in inappropriate places are other top behavior issues that people have with cats.
Cats bite, scratch and roll around with their playmates. These types of aggressive play trains cats for a time when they grow up and hunt for their prey. Although housecats don’t necessarily need to hone their hunting skills, it is natural for them to practice hunting anyhow. You need to train your cat to know which behaviors are acceptable; biting shouldn’t be one of them.
Just who is boss anyhow?
Getting the drop on you and surprising you with an affectionate nibble here and there is fun for a kitty. Unfortunately, this means your toes may be pounced and you may be awoken from a nap by suddenly acquiring a furry hat with claws. When your kitten takes the playing behavior to the next level and insists on winning, even if it means biting and causing injuries, then you need to show him who is boss. If not, he will show you who is boss. The cat.
Winning dominance through physical assertion is natural with cats. If you are not willing to be dominant, your cat will be. That doesn’t mean that you have to be mean or aggressive, in fact it means quite the opposite. It is much more damaging to a pet to not give them rules to live by than it is to let them know what the boundaries are and where the lines are drawn.
So, how do I stop a cat from biting?
What it all boils down to is behavior modification. When a kitten is young it learns how far it can push other kittens by testing boundaries. It bites, scratches and play fights with its littermates until it gets its butt kicked. After a couple times it realizes it can’t bite too hard or scratch too much before getting a response it doesn’t like.
When you play with your kitten and he bites you need to respond in a way he doesn’t like. This doesn’t mean that you have to go to extremes or be abusive. You just have to give a response that your cat dislikes. If biting gives your cat what he wants he will continue; if biting causes a reaction he doesn’t like he will stop.
The spray bottle method
Some people suggest using a spray bottle to modify your cat’s behavior. It is possible to spray your cat with water in response to unwanted behavior. This can be a good method of behavior modification if the spray bottle is always around and you immediately respond to biting with a quick shot of water. You need to be cautious to keep water away from your cat’s ears and you have to always have a spray bottle around. Because you always have to respond the same this method can be difficult, but possible.
Ignoring your cat
One of the reasons for biting is to take control of the situation. If your cat wants to have attention on his schedule, and then end the attention at his convenience as well, you can have biting issues. If you are giving your cat so much attention that he wants to get away from you, and bites to get you to leave him alone, then the best recourse you can have is ignoring him.
Only giving affection in small amounts then stopping the attention before he hits his limit is a good start. If you know your cat is going to bite you if you pet him for more than 3 minutes, stop at 2 minutes when he still wants more. Do not play with him if he is biting. This can backfire if your cat figures out that biting you can cause you to leave him alone and he really just doesn’t want to be bothered.
Bite him back
Ok, before you go biting your cat, hear me out. In nature your cat would stop biting other cats if they bite back. You need to give him a reason to stop. If you make a loud noise and firmly say, “No!” whenever your cat bites, even if it is gentle and in a playful way, he will get the idea. It may take a few times, but giving him an unpleasant response EVERY time will help him to learn his behavior is not going to be tolerated.
If you choose to swat your cat when he bites you are initiating physical contact that may continue the struggle for dominance. It is best to give a firm, “No!” each time he bites and give him all sorts of praise for his other activities.
Reinforce positive behavior
If you spend time daily brushing your cat’s coat while talking to him and making sure he knows you are part of his pride he will have better behavior. Taking time to point out times when he is behaving well and rewarding him by petting him, talking to him or giving him a treat goes a long way toward getting him to behave the way you want him to.
Rewarding your cat by giving him attention when he is behaving, and not tolerating his poor behavior, will help to train a kitten and will also work to retrain older cats as well. Cats have the basic need to fit in and be loved. The best way to stop a cat from biting is not to tolerate it from the beginning. If you or someone in your family is being used as a teething ring for your cat then you need to stop taking it and let the cat know who is boss. If you allow your cat to bite you or others then he is the boss.