How to Stop a Cat from Biting
If you’ve recently adopted a new cat or kitten, you might have run into this problem. Cats sometimes bite their human owners for several reasons. Most often, you will get bitten by your feline while playing. This is completely natural as your cat is just treating you like another cat during playtime. However, some cats will bite when they’re scared and feel like they can’t escape.
Biting is usually just an annoying habit, but it can become dangerous if not dealt with. A deep cat bite could require stitches and may even result in an infection. Also, if your cat is constantly biting out of fear, they might even start lunging at you or other people as they try to defend themselves.
It’s important to understand why your cat is biting as this will help you choose the right method(s) for dealing with this problem. It’s usually quite easy to figure out why a cat is biting you because frightened cats will display very clear body language before resorting to snapping. Look out for signs like flattened ears, a tensely wagging tail, or hissing to see if your cat is feeling afraid.
On the other hand, if your cat is acting playful and friendly, they will have their ears forward and their tail will be relaxed. Your kitty might bite you while playing because that’s what they do with other cats. They aren’t intentionally trying to hurt you; they just don’t know any better. That’s why you’re there, to teach them.
Steps to Teach a Cat Not to Bite
Try to figure out what’s making your cat afraid and reduce their exposure to the thing that triggers angry biting. This might mean locking them into another room while hoovering or separating them from other pets if necessary. You can try and coax them into a better attitude with treats or their favorite food, but avoid petting them until they are feeling relaxed again.
However, if your cat has already started biting you, don’t despair! There’s still plenty of things you can do to put a stop to it. If you see your cat lunging to bite your hand while playing, quickly distract them with a toy. Something that rattles to catch your kitty’s attention is best. Then, when your cat starts to bite the toy instead, reward them by talking to them or even giving them their favorite treat.
When your cat does bite you, resist the urge to punish them with a spray bottle. This could make them fearful of you and actually more likely to bite. Instead, make a loud yelping noise and act like you’re in pain. Stop playing with your cat immediately, take away all their toys, and ignore them for a while. This is how other kittens will act when they are bitten and will help teach your cat not to bite again.
Over time, your cat will learn to target their toys instead of your hands. They will quickly figure out that biting at the human will stop playtime in its tracks. So, to keep playtime going as long as possible, they will avoid biting your hands.
How Long Will It Take for My Cat to Stop Biting?
Ideally, you would never let your cat bite you in the first place! However, if your newly adopted cat has started to bite during playtime, following the above steps should clear it up in a couple of days. Once your feline learns that biting brings playing to a stop, they will avoid nipping at your hand and start aiming for their toys instead.
Even when your cat stops biting, it’s important to keep up their training. Reward them when they bite at their toys. But don’t let them get away with biting you. Even if they just catch your finger once while playing, yelp and ignore them.
Older cats that have a well-established biting habit could take a long time to get over it. For such felines, stick to toys that keep your hands far away from your kitty’s jaws. Laser pointers are great for this because there’s no direct connection between the toy and your hands. You could also throw your cat’s toys for them to chase. Just make sure to keep your hand well out of reach at all times.
However, if your cat is biting because they are feeling afraid, they might never get over that habit. Avoiding triggers will go a long way to avoid getting bitten. But, if your cat gets frightened by things that are unavoidable, consider hiring a behavioral specialist. They will help your kitty get over their fear with kind training techniques. They can also teach you how to safely calm down your feline without getting bitten.
It’s essential to stay patient while teaching your cat not to bite. Resist the urge to spray them with water or use any other negative punishment techniques. Your cat doesn’t necessarily understand that biting causes you pain and they definitely won’t understand why they’re being punished for playing.
Do All Cats Bite?
Strictly speaking, no, not all cats bite. But the vast majority of cats go through a biting phase as kittens, usually while playing. You should follow the steps above to help your kitty get through this phase without turning it into a bad habit. As your feline grows up, they will bite less during playtime.
If a cat is well-socialized with people and treated with respect (i.e.: left alone when they ask) they should never bite out of fear. Biting is your cat’s last resort when it comes to defending themselves, so you shouldn’t ignore the signs that your kitty is afraid.
However, sometimes cats that have never bitten before start to bite as they grow older. If your cat’s biting habit has only started recently or has come on suddenly, consider taking them to the vet for a check-up. They could be in pain, perhaps with dental issues or arthritis, and are trying to protect themselves by lashing out.
Then there are some cats that never bite at all. This is usually true with felines that are well-socialized but who have shy personalities. If you are the owner of such a cat, consider yourself lucky!