Why Does My Cat Bite Me? – Pet's Satisfaction

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Why Does My Cat Bite Me?

White kitten biting her mother cat

Cats are exploring their surroundings by mouthing (Why Does My Cat Lick Me?) or pawing them.
Therefore biting is totally usual for kittens and mostly a learning experience.

Although cats usually have a reason for chomping on you, there are methods to teach your cat to paw you softly without the use of any claws instead of making you bleed by biting or scratching you.

Why Do Cats Bite Us?

Cats are predators and therefore need stimulation that at least simulates killing by pouncing or biting something.
Therefore you should make sure early on that your kitten trains her "killing moves" on something other than your hand or foot.

If a feline is biting a person, the reasons can be very different depending on whether it's a cat or a young kitten.
Kittens usually have trouble socializing when biting but for adult cats, there may be different reasons.

To be able to stop or at least reduce the biting, it's important to distinguish between these several cases.

For kittens, it is important to learn how to behave well by interacting with other kittens or their own mother.
It isn't unusual that young cats switch homes before having learned these necessary lessons.

You should start training your cat as soon as you get her.
Kittens don't know that they hurt you by scratching or biting you and as there is no mother kitten around anymore, it's you - the human cat parent - who has to teach good manners to her.

Mouthing and biting can be very versatile in their meanings of communication.
Next to exploring their environment, kittens may also use biting to express their needs or simply because they began to teeth.

For adult cats, the reasons differ rather heavily from those for kittens.
They could bite because they feel threatened or to demonstrate their dominance.
This might be a possibility if the cat doesn't back down after having bitten.

Adult felines could also use biting to make a person stop an undesirable activity such as nail trimming or washing.
If the action had stopped in the past due to biting, the cat has learned that this works and will continue to bite whenever she doesn't want the human to do something.

There are cats that bite instead of meow if they want attention.
This could be the case if your cat nips you and then tries to show you what she wants by - for example - leading you to her favorite toy.

It's also possible that your adult cat is in serious pain and has a tooth or backache and tries to communicate it to you by her bites.
If you think this might be the case, immediately see a veterinarian for your furry friend's sake.

Redirected aggression is another potential cause to keep in mind.
This cannot only happen for humans when they had a bad day at work for example and start yelling at someone completely uninvolved, but also for cats.
Your cat might've seen another cat through the window playing outside, which can be really upsetting for her and then bite you.

Owners that experience this, call it "biting out of the blue" and if you think your cat has no reason to act aggressively, think about whether she could've been annoyed by something in the recent past.

Gray Cat Bites Fidget Spinner

How to Make Your Cat Stop Biting

It is not possible to make your cat not bite ever again, but there are methods to curb the biting.
But you should make sure that your cat has a daily outlet for her aggressions for at least ten minutes where she can "kill" a feather or something similar.

To train your cat properly, it's important to consider the age of your cat and why she's biting: whether she bites to assert dominance or to communicate.

First, you should tell your family and visitors how to react to different behaviors of your cat so that your cat doesn't become confused by mixed responses.
Consistency is the key to teaching your cat proper manners.

Second, you have to teach your cat that your hands are no toys and therefore never allow her to play with your bare hands.
By letting your kitten play with your hands and fingers, you're habituating her to undesired and likely risky behavior. 

Always having an appropriate and even rewarding toy for the cat to play with is ideal.
Most cats love plush animals and there should be several different toys for the cat to play with so she doesn't become bored.
A toy that contains treats and rewards the cat for playing is generally a great idea, too.

If your feline bites you during the play, simply stop playing and turn away.
You can enhance the effect by making a sound when she bites you.
This behavior is also used by mother cats and teaches the kittens social boundaries and appropriate play.
This technique also works for adult cats - simply leave the room for a few seconds and then come back.

This will teach the cat that you will disappear if she bites you.

If your cat doesn't show her claws while pawing you or the mouthing is soft, praise her verbally.
It is important that you teach your kitten by doing the above-mentioned and never punish her.

Else the cat will link the negative experiences with you and start to behave aggressively or anxious or even hide when you're around.

If your cat doesn't let go when biting, make your cat let off by pushing your arm and hand into the bite, because trying to pull away will only provoke your cat to bite even more.
Furthermore, let your cat know that there's no difference between clawing or biting your bare skin or your clothes by acting as if your clothes were an extension of your skin.
Make sure your cat understands it's forbidden to claw your skin or clothes.

Avoid physical punishment under all circumstances.
It will make cats only more eager to engage in a fight and defend themselves.

My Cat Has Bitten Me

The bite of a cat is very dangerous to humans and animals and should be dealt with instantaneously, because of its infectious nature.
Unlike with dog bites, infections caused by cat bites can be extremely difficult to treat.
Up to three fourth of all cat bites carry dangerous bacteria into the organism.

Symptoms of an infection usually show within around two hours and are especially dangerous for your joints, hands, and tendons.

After a cat has bitten you, immediately press on the wound to force the bacteria out.
This will probably cause increased bleeding, but it is for your own safety. 

Next, you should wash the wound conscientiously with water and soup and afterward wipe the wound with a fresh cloth.

Third, go see a doctor to be sure you have done everything necessary.
The doctor may tell you to take antibiotics and give you a tetanus booster shot if you haven't had one for a longer period of time.

After having seen the doctor, make sure to stick to the doctor's care plan and retain a clean wound area.
If you find signs of infection such as oozing, fever, redness, pain or swelling, consult with the M.D. immediately again.

If your cat doesn't stop biting you aggressively and the vet can't find any medical problems, search for a veterinarian specialized in cat behavior to find and treat the root cause.

Conclusion

Cats are predators and often use their time to train their "killing moves" by playing either with other kittens or you.

To make sure the cat's killing instincts are occupied each day, you should play with your kitten at least ten minutes a day.

Unfortunately, this playing often results in you being bitten by your feline and most cat owners don't act appropriately when this happens.

If your cat happens to bite you during playing, simply turn away and leave the room.
Then come back after a few seconds again.

This will lead to your cat learning that biting you causes you to disappear.
Never punish your cat for biting you, as this will make your cat connecting negative experiences with you in general and make her either avoid you or behave aggressively or anxiously towards you.

Also, make sure to visit a doctor when a cat has bitten you.
Because of their infectivity, cat bites are way more dangerous than those of dogs.

Does your cat bite you regularly?
How do you usually react to your cat's biting?
I'm looking forward to reading about your experiences in the comment section below!

1 comment

  • I adopted a male cat and was informed he was a biter. That he is !!! I thought with lots of love he woud get over biting … but I am at a loss to know what to do as I love him (it is the first time I’ve had a TOM cat) and want to keep him. However, infected leg bites are very dangerous. Do you have any information on what I can do to stop his biting attacks to the front of my legs ?

    Nadine Tubbs

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