Though acting lovable and sweet, it is no surprise your cats may leave you some scratching and bite on your hands after playtime. Furniture, clothes and even your sensitive skin can become their target. It hurts we know, and that’s why we are writing this to share with you the reasons why and how to stop it. Very soon we have to train our cats that using their teeth on their owner is unacceptable. It sounds hard but we will not know until we try.
Problem: Why do cats bite?
We have to admit that biting behavior is a natural habit of cats. This is formed when your cats spend hours with their mothers and littermates, in playing time or grooming session. The cycle of grabbing and biting each other sounds familiar, with this, they teach themselves how to use their teeth properly and hunting skills, especially after they are considered to be fully grown.
Here are a few reasons to understand why your cats bite:
While lions, tigers, cheetahs, and leopards are recognized as big cats, your fluffy friend has rooted in the same genes with some of the world’s violent predators. Domestic cats’ behavior remains a few habits from hunting and self-defense skills like nibbling, scratching or biting. On the other hand, several personalities may be heritable from their parents, aggressive or friendly cats might result in aggressive or friendly kittens.
From 6 weeks age, after first teeth appear, kittens become more curious about their surroundings by using their mouth (teeth, tongue) and paws. Young kittens will bite or scratch to simply get their owner's attention or play with their friends. However, if a kitty bites his sibling or Mama cat too tough, the reaction from the other side will be not nice at all. Biting back may happen immediately or he will be refused to join the game for a period of time as a discipline. Because of this, cats who leave their friends and family members too soon may not know how to moderate their bites and scratching.
Cats usually get used to staying unchanged with lots of habits, the phrase “same time same place” could describe them well. They are sensitive enough to recognize if there is something unusual around, strange people, new pets or even your new-born baby that will make them more stressful, less affection, even jealous and lead to biting as a reaction to all of this.
4. Fear or Force?
Biting is a way to show aggression or respond to a threat. When your cats feel bothered by other people or animals, they may refuse by biting as an alert to let everyone know that they just want to be left alone. Do cats like to be petted? The answer is probably YES but don’t forget these words “right time right place”. A pleasant stroking experience can lead to biting and escaping of a cat from your palm just because it is overstimulation. There is even a term for it “Petting-induced Aggression”. If someone forces to involve them in something they do not want to, don’t blame them on their severe feedback, for instance, many children are bitten this way as they try to play with your cats unconditionally.
In such a way, we can say that cats do not really attack us without any reason unless we hurt them intentionally or (unintentionally). You pass by and accidentally step on your cat, she will yell and “reward” you a bite on your feet. Don’t excuse! However, “love bites” sometimes occurs, it is the behavior when your cat feels extremely happy or when they demand your attention, just a few harmless nibbling, no fight, no aggression at all.
-> Read More: 6+ Ways Cats Show They Love You
Solution: How to stop cats from biting?
Here are some tips to remember that will help train your cats not biting.
1. Provide kittens with toys
Give them toys to exercise and relieve stress. Don’t offer your bare hands or feet as chewing toys during playing time, use toys between our hands and cat’s mouth. There should be at least 3 different types of toys available so your kitties will not be bored (laser pointer, wand toys, throwing toys…). Teaching kittens not to bite soon in their growth process will effectively prevent them from biting people when they are mature.
2. Set the boundaries
Don’t just give cats toys and think that they can entertain themselves. You need to take part in the play!
Experts agree that spending at least 10 minutes every day for your cats will be helpful, however, during this time, we bet that your cats cannot distingue between love bites or hurtful bites. If they play too rough or bite you too hard, turn on “strict mode” and try ending the session immediately. Just simply stand up, walk away and ignore them, after several times, your cats will quickly learn that their aggressive behavior may end the playtime. Don’t encourage bad behavior, set the boundaries, somehow you will make them understand that they are not allowed to cross the line by their biting.
-> Read More: Tuna is good for cats, as treat reward or as food
3. Avoid harsh punishment
Never yell or hit your cat due to their biting which only makes your cats fearful or even more likely to fight back. Don’t perform as an awful owner, with a bad experience, your cats will hide from you and refuse to tell you what they need all the time. Build their trust. We know you are not an inpatient pet owner and your cats are not miserable ones!
4. Proper Stroking
Start with safe zones (right behind the ears, under their chin, both sides of cheeks, neck, and shoulder) and pay attention to the signs they give you if they like it or not. Stay away from their belly areas, otherwise, don’t ask why your cats “reward” you some scratches and bites.
5. Establish different forms of communication
Sometimes your cats try to signal you using their bites, if you do not respond, they will try other ways (meowing or rubbing…). Make them forget biting as well, if in the very first times they are excited attacking your feet when you enter your house, teach them other activities with rewards. Time after time, repetitive actions will let them recognize that they can get the rewards in another way not biting.
6. Use the muzzle if needed
A cat muzzle is a device that covers around a cat face primarily used veterinary hospitals to stop him/her from biting. However, if you are attentive enough, you can also use it at home. Cats typically do not like something stick on their face/neck and will try to paw if off. If you have no way and must definitely find a muzzle for your difficult cat, choose a soothing one which is adjustable and can cover their eyes and mouth. You can check it out as below recommended products:
Don’t forget to keep watchful eyes on your cats and leave them muzzled for long periods of time, in other words, we just recommend this way whenever it is really necessary.
By all means, we try our best to give you all the methods we could have, but if they do not work for your case, a visit to your vet is the best choice. Behavioral problems need behavioral consultants. They will know how to treat your cats with supplements, medication, changes in diet which help calm their behavior.
How to treat cat bites
Cat bites are unsafe for humans and other animals, without proper treatment, they can cause serious infection due to harmful bacteria. Symptoms can be seen after several hours and affect hands, joints, and tendons. If you are bitten by a cat:
- Immediately wash the wound with soap and water while pressing on it (to let the blood out).
- Wipe the wound.
- Visit a doctor and follow her/his instruction (tetanus shot will be required if yours is out of date and rabies shots will be needed as well if that cat is out of rabies immunization).
After all, we do expect that you will recognize training your cats not to bite is not a brain surgery. Our feline friends are trainable as long as you are patient and kind to them, You can’t have it halfway, be consistent from the beginning till the end of the play. Cats show their affection to the owners in a plenty of different ways, whether a bite to show their cuteness or attack, it is all about love and attention! You have any other tips or questions to share with us, just feel free to comment and add your own stories below!