Stop Cat Biting: How to Stop This Annoying Behavior

Next to female cat spraying, biting is one of the most annoying cat behavior problems.

Why Cats Bite
Cats have a number of reasons for biting. They may simply be playing and accidentally bite a little too hard. They may do it on purpose because they are upset, afraid or stressed. Or they may be tired of playing with you and they bite to get you to leave them alone. Usually they bite out of playful aggressiveness or because they have been over stimulated.

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Kitten Sitting by Spring Dew, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License by  Spring Dew

It Starts Young
Early training is very important. The longer kittens are left with their mothers and siblings the better. They should not be adopted until they are at least twelve weeks old. When kittens are left with their mothers and siblings they quickly learn that biting and scratching have consequences and can hurt. Through trial and error they will learn not to bite and to keep their claws in when they are playing. Kittens that are removed from their mother too early never learn this and will require much more training.

Playful Biting
Cats may seem like they are attacking when they are really just playing around. They often have an instinctive desire to stalk things and pounce on them. This is fine when they are going after a mouse, but not so much fun when they go after a hand or foot.

What’s happening is that their hunting instincts are kicking in and they see your hand or foot as a mouse to pounce on and bite. You can prevent them from biting your hand by never playing with them with your hands. Always play with them with toys.

Teach your cat to let out all of its biting and playful energy on its toys and never allow it to bite your hand. When they are kittens playing with them and allowing them to bite you hand may seem cute, but it won’t seem so cute when they get bigger.

Biting From Excess Stimulation

If you are carrying a cat and it starts to squirm, put it down immediately. This is a sign that it has received an excessive amount of stimulation and if you don’t put it down, it will bite you. Do this quickly as cats can go from having fun to biting in seconds.

You should watch for signs that your cat has grown tired of playing. You’ll see its ears turn backward and it will start flicking its tail. These are signs that you need to leave your cat alone for a while. If you don’t respect these signs, it will eventually bite.

You should never force a cat or kitten to be carried longer than it wishes to be carried. They will not learn to love to be carried; they will just get upset and eventually bite. Also, if your cat only bites when you touch a particular spot of its body, you may need to take it to a vet. It may have been injured by another cat or may have taken a bad tumble when jumping up on something.

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