Cats can look and act so sweet and soft when they roll onto their back and play with toys. They can look like they want affection and rub against your legs. It’s nearly impossible for you to resist petting them or trying to scratch behind their ears when they’re just so cute and irresistible. Your desire to pet them can sometimes be met with claws and biting for seemingly no reason.
Cat biting can be caused by several factors in the home and nearly all of them can be handled by owners with confidence. Kittens often bite to test their strength while older cats can lash out because they’re bored or being pet wrong.
With a little more knowledge about feline partners and their boundaries, you can stop getting bitten and have more quality time petting your cat.
The more you know about your cat and what they’re possibly going through, the safer your hands will be from bites and scratches.
Kittens are adorable fighting machines that love to cuddle and purr but can also wield their sharp claws against innocent bystanders at will. Biting issues in little ones often come from them developing their hunting urges and understanding what they’re capable of.
As they grow, they want to act on their instincts and test their strength and speed. Just like you’ll see your kittens play fighting with older cats, they will also play fight with you. In most cases, a kitten biting you does not mean they’re too aggressive or will have behavioral problems when they grow older.
Kittens just have a lot of energy and playing is a great way to tire them out and encourage a nap. There are many ways to curb them biting your hands specifically from chewing toys to clicker training to catnip.
Make sure to have patience with them at this stage and calmly redirect their playful energy toward other avenues of energy release. They will soon stop biting you as they grow up and gain confidence in their hunting skills.
Overstimulating a cat is one of the most common reasons behind unprovoked biting or aggression. To counter this behavior, you will need to be aware of your cat’s regular behavior and the body language signifying they’re readying to bite.
Believe it or not, it is very possible to be petting your cat too much at a time. Unlike dogs, most cats only like certain parts of their bodies touched and not for too long or too hard. To stop the bite before it happens, you must first read and understand your cat’s body language.[Source]
Signs to watch out for include:
- Rapid ear or tail movement
- Turning to look at your petting hand
- Skin moving/shifting under your touch
Some cats may also dislike having their belly or their back touched. A cat’s head is generally a safe place to touch but be careful around the whiskers and eyes. Knowing your cat and their boundaries is the best way to avoid biting and make sure they’re comfortable around you.
Just like with aggression issues and age immaturity, overstimulation can slowly be overcome with time and careful effort. Accustoming your cat to your touch and petting them in different areas will increase their tolerance and love for you.
Is your cat happy with its home or circumstances? An unhappy cat with unmet needs is more likely to bite you as well as cause unfortunate destruction around the house.
An unhappy cat may not be eating or playing as much. They may seclude themselves away from you or hide during the majority of the day. They may also urinate outside the litterbox or destroy precious items.
For an unhappy cat, biting is another sign along with others that they want something to change. It can be hard to realize at first your cat is unhappy as most adults have full-time jobs and lives that take up a lot of their time and energy.
One or two accidents outside the litterbox aren’t all that big a deal for cat owners, and it’s to be expected that some shoes or couches may be caught in the crossfire. However, all of these behaviors compounded together can indicate that something is upsetting your cat, and they’re not going to be happy until it’s fixed.
They may not like their food or have a complaint about the new type of litter. Maybe you’ve been too busy lately and haven’t been giving enough cuddles and playtime, or they’re not feeling well and want you to know.
For a cat that was once healthy and played normally, taking steps to recognize behaviors or items in the home they dislike should be prioritized over assuming they’ve developed aggression issues. Biting is always in response to an unwanted or unwarranted stimulus.
Understanding your cat’s behavior will allow you to have a better, deeper connection with your feline. It will also provide a safe and loving home for them where they can live blissfully and without stress.
Poor Socialization Skills
In some situations, cat biting can be caused by poor socialization or the inability to get along with humans and other animals. You’re more likely to see these issues with shelter cats that were once feral and other new members just entering the home.
These poor cats will often be uncomfortable with anything or anyone new to them. They won’t like other animals or people and will have a higher general fear and stress level than other pets.[Source]
Biting you will be their way of showing you they’re afraid and don’t trust you or their surroundings yet. Unlike other issues, poor socialization can be harder to manage and may take special training and a lot of patience on your part to treat.
Most shelters will let you know what condition your new cat is in before you bring them home to confirm you’re ready to take on their specific needs. It’s also possible these issues may appear when another animal is added to the home, stirring up old unresolved aggression.
To determine if a cat hasn’t been properly socialized, you’ll need to note when the biting starts and any other significant changes in the household. Once it’s clear it’s not a matter of needs not being met or any other common grievance, you can find the training or management option that best suits your household.
Some animals with difficult histories work better in single-animal homes. Determining your animal’s circumstances as soon as you can allow you to make the changes necessary to keep them healthy. With proper care and love from their owner, these cats can still live wonderful, happy lives.
Just like human beings, cats can have many reasons why they bite or lash out against humans. Once you recognize the behavior and the cause, it will be much easier to find a solution. As long as you handle your animals with care and empathy, you will always be on the right track to fostering a healthy home environment.