Why Do Cats Bite (And How to Stop It)
Cat owners the world over have always asked ‘why does my cat bite so much’ especially when they are new to the world of cats as pets. Cats will nip and claw at their owner for many different reasons which we explore here in this article. We also look at how to stop a cat from biting through a number of different tactics so that hopefully this behavior quickly becomes a thing of the past.
It’s important to stop your cat from biting so much as not only can it cause obvious pain to you – it can also be a behavior that they are happy to carry out on other people which can cause a great deal of trouble, especially to those that are not familiar with cats. Whilst a cat bite isn’t dangerous per se – if it becomes infected like any open cut or wound, then that can cause issues in the future. If you do get cut by your cat biting you, remember to wash the wound with an antibacterial soap and cover it with a plaster or antibacterial gel afterwards too.
Why Do Cats Bite Their Owners
There are so many answers to why do cats bite their owners – some are surprising while others seem logical when you have owned cats before and understood their eccentric ways. A cat biting their owner can happen because:-
- They want to assert who is the leader of the pack. By biting an owner they are mimicking behavior they will have learned in the litter with their mother. Biting was a way that kittens learn the ropes about what is acceptable behavior and what is not, as well as a way of of a litter determining a hierarchy that is common across several species of animals. A cat biting is simply a behavior they have not grown out of yet, which is something that owners can help stop with training. (See below!)
- They want attention. This is a big one that is so common yet so often overlooked by owners as it seems so counterintuitive to our human ways. Yet, cats will often bite their owner if they want to be stroked, played with or given food. Cats are more sociable characters than they are often given credit for, and biting is a failsafe way of getting some form of attention if they are feeling neglected – even if it is a little misguided!
- They’re talking to you. Again, this is a bit of a misguided approach to displaying love for their owner, but a cat biting can be your pet’s way of having a chat with you. It can be a repeated behavior because you may have responded to them in the past. In short, if you have spoken to your cat after they have bitten you, they are likely to continue doing so until you stop talking to them after a nip – even if you are telling them to stop biting you because it hurts!
- They’re still young and they’re playing. This is normal behavior for kittens. A kitten who won’t stop biting is simply trying to either play or to learn about the objects in the world around them. You are, sadly, one of those objects and often one that they want to play with for fun!
How To Stop A Cat From Biting
How to train a cat not to bite is not as difficult a task or as steep a mountain to climb as some cat owners would have you believe. The key to all the approaches on how to stop a cat from biting listed below is to be consistent. Without consistency, you will be setting yourself up to fail and even worsen your relationship with your cat – which is obviously the exact opposite of what you want to do.
Bearing this in mind, ensure that you inform any other people in the house regarding your approach to stopping your cat biting all the time. This is especially true if you find your new kitten won’t stop biting and you want to inhibit that behavior straight from the start.
Here are our recommended methods on how to train a cat not to bite:
- Take a firm approach
Taking a firm approach is almost as important as being consistent when learning how to stop a cat from biting. If you are firm, you will naturally be consistent at the same time and you will find you reap much better rewards and far more quickly too. Being firm in your approach in how to train a cat not to bite means that you cannot ever give in to their demands that biting is so often displayed for. Additionally, don’t let your cat play with your hands or feet and be firm about this by taking your hands away every time they do start to see your digits as a play thing!
- Vocally display your distaste
Cats are different to dogs so when asking how to train a cat not to bite, you have to employ different tactics – but raising your voice is something that can be used for both species, even though it is more commonly seen with canines. While they are not as empathetic as dogs, cats will still understand the tone of your voice as well as the volume. Whilst you don’t want to scare them, by vocally displaying your distaste of them biting you, they will start to learn that they are not leader of the pack as well as the fact that biting is not allowed.
- Stop rewarding negative behavior
Above, we mentioned that a cat biting may be because they are looking for attention. It may be hard, but whenever possible, do not feed/stroke/play with your cat if they bite you. All this will do is condone their behavior and make them feel it is acceptable to bite when they want something. This is particularly true for when a kitten won’t stop biting who has not learnt other ways of getting attention from their owners yet.
- Tire them out
Cats will often bite if they are bored and, as mentioned, therefore want attention. To stop them from getting to that point, any easy way of how to stop a cat from biting is simply to give them a toy to play with throughout the day. Interactive toys are a great way of tiring cats out so that they do not have the energy to get bored. In doing so, a byproduct of that is that they will stop biting so much.
- Reward positive behavior
This training tactic is called positive reinforcement and it is commonly used with many different types of animals, and it can definitely work well with cats. All owners have to do is give cats a treat or some form of love or attention when their cat is displaying good behavior. The hope is that they will simply stop biting owners therefore as they learn quite quickly to prefer behavior that gets them a treat – which biting certainly won’t. For example, flitting in between your legs softly with their bodies – this is a loving behavioral trait that owners love to see. If you see it, reward it. Your cat will soon realise that biting does not get them the attention they crave.
Why Does My Cat Bite So Much – The Bottom Line
Hopefully by answering why do cats bite their owners, it is possible to fully understand how to stop a cat from biting so much. Cats all bite for various reasons, as discussed, and a cat or a kitten won’t stop biting until you learn how to stop a cat from biting for good. It may be best to employ a mixture of all the above tactics to stop a cat biting and, when you are consistent, you will definitely see results. As briefly mentioned, it is imperative to learn how to stop a cat from biting as if your cat does bite you or another person, it can cause considerable harm and pain. This is particularly true if a wound then subsequently becomes infected. No one would ever want this to happen, but it is a circumstance that is exponentially more possible if you have a cat that regularly bites as you have not taught it to stop.