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Why Does My Cat Bite Me?

family-footerYou probably love many of your cat’s traits. He’s soft, he’s playful and his purring is practically therapeutic. However, if your cat likes to bite you—whether playfully or aggressively—your feelings about him may take a hit.

Our team at Germantown Veterinary Clinic hears the same question from tons of cat owners: “Why does my cat bite me?” Thankfully, we know of a few things that could cause this behavior in your pet, so we outlined a few reasons why cats bite and how you can get your cat to stop biting.

Reasons Cats Bite

  • Declawed: If your cat’s front claws have been removed, his only form of self-defense is to bite. This is just one of many behavioral problems that often emerge in declawed cats. Avoid having this procedure done unless absolutely necessary.
  • Play acting: Cats love to stalk and attack anything that moves. This includes rodents and birds as well as your fingers and toes. This type of biting is playful, not aggressive.
  • Territorial aggression: Outdoor cats are most likely to develop this problem. They sense their territory is threatened by a stray or another outdoor cat and then they take out this aggression on you or other house pets.
  • Fear and aggression toward humans: When cats are poorly handled and socialized between five and 12 weeks old, they often grow up wary of people and are easily upset. Your cat may hiss at, bite and claw anyone who approaches, especially strangers.
  • Petting-induced aggression: Your cat may seek out your attention, purr while you pet him, and then suddenly turn around and bite you. This feline behavior isn’t fully understood, though it could be due to cats’ short attention spans, their desire to control the situation, or the fine line between pleasure and annoyance.
  • Medically induced aggression: If your cat is in pain, he may suddenly start biting and showing other aggressive tendencies. Arthritis is a common source of pain that develops slowly with no obvious cause.

How to Get Your Cat to Stop Biting

  • Discourage rough play: Don’t let anyone in your household encourage your cat to play rough. If you notice your kitty stalking you or a family member, clap your hands loudly to startle him or toss a toy his way to redirect his attention.
  • Supply toys and scratching posts: Make sure your kitty has plenty of play things to sink his teeth and claws into.
  • Spray pheromones: Synthetic cat pheromones are used primarily to prevent spraying, but they’re also effective for calming aggressive cats. To apply the pheromones, spray a tissue, let it dry, and then rub it on your cat’s head and back.
  • Address signs of aggression early: Before it becomes engrained in your cat’s personality, curtail aggression by talking softly and moving slowly around him. Get him used to being touched by petting his head without any sudden movements. If your cat shows signs of irritation, stop immediately and give him space. Let your cat get hungry and then offer his favorite treat. He’ll overcome his fear and build trust when he realizes you feed him and never hurt him.
  • Learn how to read your cat: There’s no solution to the Dr. Jekel and Mr. Hyde personality trait, so simply watch for signs your cat has reached his petting limit and let him go before he turns on you.
  • Take your cat to the vet: A sudden onset of unexplained aggression could mean your cat is sick. Carefully place him in a carrier and bring him to the vet for a physical exam.

Call Germantown Vet if You’re Concerned About Your Cat’s Biting

We treat behavior problems and may be able to reverse your cat’s biting habit. For answers to other questions about your cat’s behavior, or for any other pet needs, please contact us online or call (240) 252-7467.

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