Animals

3 Reasons Why Cats Bite — And How to Get Them to Stop

Ouch! No cat owner likes getting bitten, that’s for sure. But if your kitty won’t stop nipping you, you’ll be happy to know there are ways to get Fluffy to stop this annoying (and painful!) habit. Renowned cat behavior consultant Mikel Delgado, PhD, spoke to WomansWorld.com about the most common reasons for cat bites and how to get your precious pet to cut it out.

You’re touching the cat too much.

Mikel says cats can get very irritated if you pet them too much or if you hold them when they don’t want to be held. They can also get annoyed if you pet a part of their bodies that they don’t want touched, such as their bellies. This type of frustration on the cat’s part can lead to him or her biting you in response.

“My first line of advice is back off and let the cat dictate handling a little bit more,” says Mikel. “A lot of us love cats. Cats are soft, they’re cute, we want to pet them as much as possible. But sometimes it’s really about the human being a little more hands-off.”

The cat is desperate to play with you.

We might not always realize it, but cats can be very attracted to our simplest motions, such as the movement of our ankles as we walk around the house. Mikel says this can lead to a playful and high-energy cat chasing us around and partaking in some unexpected biting and scratching.

“That cat probably needs a lot more playtime,” Mikel says. “They might even need another companion cat.” If you’re not ready to add a second cat to your family, try to make sure your kitty is getting plenty of exercise. It may be time to invest in some new cat toys!

Something is wrong with the cat’s environment.

If your cat seems fearful and defensive when biting, that’s a sign of a serious environmental issue. Mikel says this can stem from other animals or humans in the house or even how home is actually set up — especially if there is a lack of places where the cat can have privacy.

If this is the case, it’s important to address the behavior with your vet. Since an environmental issue will likely be a very specific one, you can work together to try to customize your home to fit your pet’s needs. “A defensive cat is one that is going to protect themselves, whereas a cat who’s more playfully aggressive is just expressing natural predatory behavior,” explains Mikel. 

But no matter why your cat bites you, it’s important to always remain calm after it happens. According to Mikel, a harsh punishment or an adverse reaction from you might cause your cat to bite even harder the next time and make the problem worse. Instead, try simply leaving the room and close the door behind you. Then, see if you can figure out why your cat bit you and go from there. 

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