Cats and Biting 101
Biting is a normal behaviour in kittens. Because cats use their mouths and paws to explore their world, it’s natural for them to bite. But kitties can learn to inhibit the force of their bites and to use soft paws without claws. Your cat can still nibble and play-smack you with a soft paw and enjoy a kitty-correct game without drawing blood.
Some cats love to bite their owners. Some biting can be playful, but biting for the most part is undesirable behaviour. Different cats bite for different reasons. In order to fix your cat’s biting behaviour, you must first identify why they are doing so, and then take appropriate actions for your cat.
Why Do Cats Bite?
Biting serves a number of functions for cats. It is often an animalistic behaviour that a cat uses to assert dominance and respond to threats. In the home, it means that your cat may be biting because they are trying to show who is in charge. You’ll know this is the case if your cat bites you, but neither backs down nor tries to play or cuddle with you. Your cat is showing dominance by biting.
Your cat may also bite as a form of communication. Instead of meowing, some cats will use a nip on the calf or forearm to signal that they want something – to be fed, to open a door, to be let outside, or even to clean the litter box. You’ll know that biting is a signal behaviour when your cat bites, then tries to lead you off in the direction of some action they want accomplished, or if they immediately meow afterwards.
How to Stop Biting
While you may not be able to prevent your cat from ever biting again, there are some techniques you can try.
⦁ Provide them with toys
Most cats love to play, so redirecting those sharp teeth and paws away from your vulnerable flesh makes for a good start. The best way to do this is to tire your cat out regularly with a variety of toys, preferably ones that are separated from your fingers to stop your cat from biting you.
⦁ End play sessions when they’re too rough
If you enjoy playing with your kitten, but don’t like how rough they play back, try ending the session immediately after they bite too hard. Don’t make a fuss, simply stand up and walk away, ignoring your kitten in the process. Your kitten will soon realise that aggressive behaviour will bring an end to play time.
⦁ Introducing a playmate
If you are thinking of adding another feline to your family, adopting another kitten as a playmate may reduce your kitten’s desire to play rough with you. Do ensure you’re able to properly look after two cats at once before you go down this route.
Although this is a natural instinct that should be encouraged in young kittens, never give the impression that it is OK to bite human fingers and toes. Provide them with plenty of toys to practise on and reward them for doing so.