7 Ways to Stop a Cat from Biting

Cat biting

Is your cat biting you? Read on to find out why your cat may be biting and how to stop a cat from biting.

Why do cats bite?

Before we can tackle the task of stopping the cat bites, we must first explore the reasons behind the toothy attacks…do any of these seem familiar?

Stop Petting Me!

Any person that has ever been owned by a cat can probably attest to the petting-induced aggression bite. This is when you are happily petting your feline friend and he “suddenly” turns and clamps his teeth down on your hand. Although it may seem to have suddenly come out of the blue, if you were paying attention to your cat’s body language, he was most likely showing you signs of being irritated before the nip occurred. These signs can include;

  • Tail thumping or whipping
  • Flattened or twitching ears
  • Shifting of body positions
  • Eyes focusing on your hand
  • Purring stops
  • May emit a meow or even a growl

If you fail to heed these many “warnings” then your cat will most often resort to the only other way it has of communicating its displeasure…biting!

​Why does my cat want to end the petting session?

Cats are not dogs and therefore seem to have a lesser threshold for hands-on companionship; dogs can spend hours letting you rub their bellies. According to Canidae, here are some reasons why your kitty may be fed-up with all that attention.

1. Overstimulation – there’s only so much affection a cat will take before sensory overload occurs.

2. Not now sometimes this species just wants to play and not be petted. If this is the case, your cat may put up with the petting for a while, but will often resort to a bite after he’s had enough.

3. Sensitive to specific areas some cats may like specific areas scratched, while others are a no-no. Learn these individual places on your feline to save yourself a bandage.

Misdirected Aggression

Sometimes a bite can occur that has nothing to do with you; wrong place at the right time! These bites can happen for different reasons, but the three most common are;

  • Your cat is frustrated while watching birds or another cat outside in its territory
  • One cat is taken to the vet and comes home with the scent of “that place” on its fur
  • Play aggression

7 ways to stop a cat from biting

Now that we know the secrets to the cat bites, let’s go through the 7 ways to alter this annoying and painful behavior.

1. Aggression Brought on By Play

As we mentioned above, play aggression is one common reason our cats are biting. This is because cats are predatory by nature so offering your fingers, hands, or feet as a toy it’s an open invitation for your feline to give you a hearty bite or scratch. Doing this action with a kitten is hard to resist (they’re so cute) but it will become a learned behavior if we continue to do so. For this reason, make sure to provide plenty of cat toys for your pet to enjoy. If you want to interact with the kitty during playtime, use toys on wands, and laser pointers on ones that can be tossed and chased after. In addition, make sure everyone in the household follows the no-hands/toes rule for playtime.

Aggression Brought on By Play
Image: istockphoto.com / BiancaGrueneberg

2. Call a Timeout!

Cats can become overstimulated during play (especially if those toys have catnip in them) so when you notice the playtime is getting bitier and aggressive, take a time out. This can be done by immediately turning your back on your furry buddy or leaving the room after the nip has happened. Don’t speak or resume playing for one minute. This can break the bite-cycle and let your cat know it’s unacceptable.

3. All By Myself

On the paws of point number two picking up your cat right after the misbehavior and placing her in another room by herself, will send the message that biting is going to end the fun and will eventually reinforce the “no-bite” rule.

4. Spend the Energy

According to I (heart) Cats, if your feline is biting you outside of playtime, it may need to expend more energy. This is a good time to pull out the laser pointer or toys on wands. Run your cat or kitten around the room so it can get a full-out play and burn up all that vacuum energy. Alternatively, take her outside using a harness if necessary.

5. Handle Properly & Respectively

Does your cat always nip after you reach over to pet him? This is common for felines as this action can be perceived as an aggressive act. Some felines are fine with this, while others have a no-tolerance for the action. If your cat is one that doesn’t appreciate the overhead scooch, then be sure to respect its wishes and approach a petting session with the back of your hand on the side of his face or on his belly. In addition, respecting all the wishes of our cats is another useful and important tip to avoid getting bitten.

6. Relieve Any Underlying Anxiety Issues

If your cat is constantly acting out in an aggressive manner, it could be because it is constantly scared or anxious for some reason. This can occur in rescues, senior cats or those that have experienced neglect or abuse. To help ease a kitty’s tension there are products on the market that mimic the pheromones of a feline, which have been proven to reduce anxiety. These come in diffusers, sprays, and wipes. Ask your veterinarian if this may be right for your furry buddy.

7. Seek Veterinary Advice

Your veterinarian is a good source of answers to why your cat may be biting. For severe cases, he or she may prescribe medication to help relieve anxiety or recommend special cat food that contains tryptophan (a sleepy ingredient found in turkey) which will produce a calming effect on your pet.

Kitty Etiquette

It’s not impossible to stop the cat bites. Follow these tips to help put your feline on the right path and to instill some kitty etiquette. With lots of love, patients and re-direction, your cat will soon be the wonderful companion you’ve always dreamed of having.