Cats often bite and scratch due to a lack of play-time (known as “Predatory Aggression”), because they have been taught to bite by humans (by being encouraged to chase wiggling fingers, or being wrestled with) ” or irritation from too much handling (“overstimulation”). This might seem like harmless fun when a kitten, but once grown up, it can hurt and cause damage to humans other animals in your home.

First, as with litter box issues, a cat that suddenly starts biting might be doing so for a medical problem that is causing pain. If biting seems to come on suddenly, be sure to have your vet give your cat an exam to rule out pain.

Second, give the cat appropriate outlets for playful behavior – plenty of interactive playtime and solo play toys. Never encourage your cat to play with human body parts. When petting your cat, watch for signs of irritation such as a tail swish, head turn, dilated pupils or cranky meow and give breaks from handling. Some cats have very clear thresholds for being pet or held and it is your job to note it and respect it.

Third, this is one case where correction is appropriate. However, you want to use the least amount of stimulus needed to interrupt the bad behavior. This means starting very minimally and increasing corrective measures slowly. The corrective stimulus should not be so much as to scare the cat; then you have defeated your purpose and contributed to the beginning of a new problem – fear of people. Use only humane correction: saying NO or OUCH (loudly if necessary), clapping your hands, or blowing air on the cat’s face as it bites. Back away from the cat slowly and quietly. Then withdraw attention, giving the kitty a “time-out” for 10-15 seconds.

Finally, encourage “good” playful behavior by rotating toys and making playtime a regular, routine event that you and your cat can look forward to. There are many wonderful products that help with biting issues. Look below for our suggestions! Purchasing a product through the below links also helps generate revenue for the kitties of Homeward Trails!