Cat owners love having the opportunity to hang out with their cats. This bonding time can be precious, whether you like a lap cat, a playful cat, or a well-balanced cat. What can take away from enjoying your time together is if your cat is biting you though. In most cases, however, this inappropriate biting behavior can be changed fairly quickly and easily. The Refined Feline has put together a list of 6 steps you can take to get your cat to stop biting.
#1: Establish A Safe Space
Most cats will greatly benefit from having their own space besides what they share with you. They may spend just as much time on the couch as you do but would prefer a separate space. Even if your cat at home isn’t shy, any cat can get startled or become uncomfortable, wanting a hiding spot. Your cat may turn to bite for protection if they don’t feel like they can escape or hide. Staging a few strategically and easily accessible places will help as most cats won’t need an entirely separate living space. Putting down a couple of hidden beds in a bedroom or a corner will help to calm them down and feel protected, which will help to get your cat to stop biting. You can pick additional quiet places throughout your home for more beds or a small cat tree that they can run to if necessary as well.
#2: Understand What Scares Them
The root of most biting behaviors on the cat’s part is fear. A cat’s “flight or fight” instincts kick in when a cat is suddenly afraid of a new situation or sound. If they feel trapped or unsafe, they may choose the fight instinct more often than not, which usually ends with biting. And you don’t want to punish your cat for simply relying on their instincts, either, as this can cause other issues down the road. Instead, try to figure out what keeps triggering this fear response in them. Are guests being too loud? Do doors get constantly slammed throughout the day? July 4th and other major holidays can be particularly scary for all pets. Booming noises can be very shocking to an animal, in addition to them not knowing why it’s happening. This will make any well-rounded cat feel the need to defend itself, but there are multiple ways to get your cat to stop biting.
Cats hear every sound amplified more as their sense of hearing is nearly five times better than that of a human’s hearing. So if you think something is too loud then it’s definitely too loud for your cats to stay in the room. Taking stock of your house and seeing it from a cat’s point of view will help you see those startling or scary sights and sounds. Maybe you realize their litter box is past the loudest room in your home, creating a stressful situation for them just to use the potty. Maybe there is a lot of loud traffic down your road and it scares them randomly throughout the day. Cats are masters at hiding their emotions, especially stress, but becoming aware of these situations can help calm your anxious cat. You are now able to see these scary situations and potentially change them. This in turn will only help to give your cat a more peaceful and less fearful home, eliminating their need to “defend” through biting.
#3: Keep a Routine
Similar to people and dogs, cats love routine and set schedules. Routine helps pets understand what’s to come for the day’s activities. This then helps your cat in knowing what to expect and having less fear in certain situations. Every time the UPS delivery guy keeps knocking, or that one neighbor keeps stopping by, these activities throw off that routine. This will cause those fearful feelings to come upon your cat again and may cause them to bite. Having those safe spaces for them to run to will help decrease their fear and stress, giving them the confidence to venture out during activities and get comfortable.
Just remember that it can be overwhelming for cats to experience new events, so go slow for them as much as you can. Reward them with treats to show your cat these are positive experiences, and they don’t need to be scared of anything. When your friends and family arrive, have them hand out treats too so your cat knows that new people are good experiences as well. You’ll want your cat to make progress in realizing these situations aren’t bad but don’t push them to be involved either. Going at their pace will help them feel more comfortable on their own terms, which will lead to less biting.
#4: Respect Your Cat’s Rules
Most of the responsibility is on the cat to feel comfortable in most situations, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have some rules, too. It’s especially vital to ensure children know how to properly interact with cats and when to stop petting them. What can lead to biting is when children don’t pick up on some subtle clues from cats. On occasion, cats will be more patient with children than adults, but they will reach a boiling point eventually. If adults are unfamiliar with cats, they may need a slight tutorial on how your cat reacts as well. It’s far too easy for adults to keep petting a cat and not notice the flick of a tail, or the eyes narrowing in their direction. Letting your guests know when to stop petting or how to best interact with your cat can help with preventing any potential bites.
Overstimulation can often occur when cats are getting near non-stop attention. Most friendly cats will want to be where the action is during a party, which will inevitably result in a lot of attention. However, a cat can easily become overwhelmed by all this extra attention, and sassy cats won’t simply turn and walk away! They will most likely react with a bite to say they’re done. Your guests may not realize when a cat is getting agitated, so it’s up to you to give them any guidance on the matter.
#5: Don’t Encourage Bad Behavior
You may not be aware, but you may be increasing bites by encouraging bad behavior during playtime. If your cat loves to wrestle and play and ends up using your arms and hands, this can encourage biting that’s unprovoked. It reinforces that biting skin is acceptable to you, which can cause further inappropriate behavior down the road. To get your cat to stop biting, stop using your arms and hands to rough house with your cat. It’s best to instead play with cat toys from the very beginning to get your cat to stop biting and encourage better behavior.
#6: Provide Entertainment
And depending on your cat’s energy levels, they may just be bored. Your cat realizes that biting will get a reaction from you no matter what, and they will technically get attention from it. The boredom may stem from feeling lonely at home while you’re at work, or not getting enough playtime during the day. Try to figure out where the boredom is coming from exactly by increasing some of these activities and see if the biting decreases. If you have a single cat at home, they may love another cat friend to spend time with. Introducing another cat is a big deal though, so consider your cat’s personality and whether a new furry sibling would be ideal.
Decrease Your Cat’s Biting With These Tips
Remember to be patient while you begin to help your kitty decrease their biting. Keep in mind that a cat’s world is very different from our own, and they need to adjust. It may take some time for your cat to stop biting and for you to start seeing improvements in their behavior. But also remember that you’re taking the correct steps to give yourself and your cat a bite-free, peaceful living environment.