Stop a Cat from Biting: Cat and Kitten Training

Cat playing with computer mouse

Cats bite for many reasons. Some cats suddenly lash out and bite you out of the blue. Others give warning signals such as a lashing tail or a growling sound. But this behavior can be dangerous and is one of the more serious cat problems. A cat’s mouth harbors many bacteria which can cause a fairly severe infection. But before getting rid of your cat, there are some things you can do to limit biting:

  1. Get your male cat neutered. Sometimes male cats are more aggressive than their female counterparts. By getting your male cat neutered, you will probably be cutting down on aggression and other cat behavioral problems.
  2. Take your cat to the vet. If your cat is hurting, it may be aggressive with you, especially if you touch a painful part of its body. Cats try to hide it when they are sick or hurting for as long as they can. Your vet may be able to determine if something is medically wrong.
  3. Don’t pet your cat’s belly. Many cats dislike having their bellies touched – it makes them feel defenseless. Some will respond by biting. However, you can try getting your cat used to having its belly petted by spending time with your cat and rewarding it for good behavior (see steps 7 and 8).
  4. Some cats are overstimulated by petting and will suddenly lash out by biting. If your cat is one of these, pay attention to your its signals. If it stops purring, or its tail starts lashing, stop petting.
  5. Know your cat. Some cats don’t like to be petted or held. If you have one of those cats, don’t pet it  or try to hold it . Again, you can try to retrain it by spending time with your cat and rewarding it for good behavior (steps 7 and 8). But it’s important to monitor your pet and know when your cat is likely to bite.
  6. Look at your cat. If your cat is alert-tail lashing, ears flattened, hissing or growling, don’t go near it until it calms down. When in alert state, many cats will lash out at anything that moves near them, like a foot or a hand.
  7. Spend some time with your cat. Get to know your cat whether or not it is aggressive. Cats do show affection to their owners, like dogs, but some cats need time. Hand feed your cat special treats, and play with it. If you’re worried about getting bitten during play, tie a small cat toy onto a string and drag it behind you. Avoid speaking in a loud voice or making loud noises and try to move slowly. If your cat is startled, it may react by lashing out.
  8. Praise your cat. Part of successful cat training involves a reward. If your cat plays gently with you, praise its behavior. You can even give your pet little treats. This can be done during kitten training all the way through to adulthood.
  9. Try not to leave your cat alone for extended periods of time. Cats that are left alone without stimulation sometimes become bored. They will often respond by aggressively playing with their owners. This aggressive behavior often takes the form of scratching and biting. 
  10. Never use fingers and toes as playthings, especially with a kitten. Yes, kittens are very playful, and yes, if you dangle your toes and fingers at them, they will play with them and look so cute. But letting your kitten play with your fingers and toes only teaches them to bite later in life. If your pet wants to play with you, and you’ve taught it to play with your fingers, it won’t stop with just your fingers. It will go after your friends, children and other family members. Teach your kitten to play with toys rather than fingers.

Understanding cat behavior will help you better understand why your cat is biting and how you can prevent it. Good luck!


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