How Do I Stop My Cat From Biting Me?

Ouch! That hurts!

It's never fun when your cat is a biter or even if he tends to be quick-on-the-nip. However, that doesn't mean this behavior is forever or can't be curbed.

Before you stock up on bandages and antibiotic ointments, we've "nibbled" our way to the experts and have "clamped down" on some solid advice to answer the question of 'how to stop my cat from biting me?'

Why DO Cats Bite?

According to PetMD, cats need to fulfill a predatory play instinct each day. This includes pouncing, grabbing and sinking their teeth into something. Of course, if that "something" is our hand, or feet, it can be unpleasant and even quite painful.

Another reason a cat may bite it's human is that it was inadvertently taught to do so as a kitten. Once again this leads back to their hunting instincts. Kittens learn how to pounce and bite and grab and bite to become skilled adult hunters. If you play with a kitten using your hand or feet, she will think it's okay to use you as her target practice. After all indoor felines are not going to be exposed to the wildlife an outdoor cat will, so our moving hands and feet will become "fair game."

Your feline may also be biting due to a condition called redirected aggression. This is when a cat sees something that upsets them, then turns and redirects that aggressive behavior (ie biting) towards the first thing it sees (you). Some pet parents believe their cat has just bitten them "out of the blue," but most likely they failed to see the source that upset their feline friend in the first place.

Lastly, some cats may develop a biting issue due to pain or other underlying illnesses. Our cats cannot tell us when they are sick or in pain, so if Fluffy has just begun the biting behavior, look for other symptoms that could point to pain or sickness.

How to Stop a Cat From Biting

Since biting is an instinctive behavior in cats and kittens we can't expect them to stop doing it. The key is we want them to stop biting us. In order to do this, we must "train" ourselves to be aware of the biting-triggers and how we play with our pet cats.

PetMD recommends playing appropriately with our feline friends at least ten minutes each day to satisfy that predatory hunting instinct to pounce, grab and bite. Appropriately means with feather or wand toys that can be used safely without eliciting a bite to the human hand.

If you have a kitten, playing properly with these appropriate toys will teach her that your hands are not the prey. If your kitten does nip you, simply get up and walk away. This is what the mother cat does when her kittens become unruly. Ignoring your cat will send a clear message that biting you will only stop the fun.

Another way to stop a cat from biting is to read their body language. Cats that have had enough of being petted will oftentimes show it by putting their ears back, thrashing their tail, dilated pupils, and hissing and growling. If you continue to push a cat in this position, you are most likely going to get bitten.

No Negative Disciplines

It is not recommended to use a spray to the face or shock mats to stop your cat from biting you. These methods will most likely just make your cat more anxious and angry. In addition, cats have good memories and will associate these negative results, not with the biting, but with you being the perpetrator of the negative. This can cause your cat to hide or act out with more fear and aggression as a defensive mechanism.

When to See a Professional

Overly aggressive biting behaviors should be brought to the attention of a veterinarian so he/she can rule out pain or disease. Once this has been eliminated you may be referred to an animal behaviorist for further treatment. Some cats respond to supplements, a change in diet or even medication to curb the biting issue, but let professionals prescribe these methods before you attempt doing it on your own.

Fewer Bandages, More Bonding

The feline species doesn't bite any more than any other animal, so know there is always a reason behind the bite. Determining why your cat bites, then stopping it, however, may take some time. Have patience and rule out or treat any underlying issues your cat may be suffering from. Once you have a plan in place you will be well on your way to having fewer bandages and more bonding with your BFF.

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