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Training a Cat Not to Bite

Category Cats
A cat biting its owners finger.
It is not pleasant to have a pet cat that insists on biting you. This is a guide about training a cat not to bite.
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By 0 found this helpful
March 28, 2013

I learned through trial and error a couple things to help your kitty stop biting you during play.

Some kitties who are only kitties (no other pet siblings in the family) will play with their humans the way they would play with another pet, because they see you as a big hairless cat. When I had an only kitty, he would play-bite me, or sometimes give me a head start up the stairs then leap on my leg and try to bite me.

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I would use my forefinger, and gently tap him on his little nose, the wet part not the bridge, several times. He would get a slightly disoriented look on his face, then stop biting. Then I would pet him since he stopped. I never used water spray for this issue, I saved that for big infractions. Sometimes they just don't understand the difference between playing with siblings and playing with humans, and they get it pretty quick this way.

If you know what behavior causes kitty to bite, when kitty starts up, after you have tapped his nose and given him a moment to sit there, get an interactive toy out and play, that way he'll be too involved and eventually too tired to bite! Mine, that liked to bite, also liked those things-on-a-stick, that the human waves so kitty can chase and catch; he also liked to play fetch like a dog, with a particular ball which was his favorite (in his case his fave was like a plastic golf ball, with feathers sticking out of one end and little pebbles inside to make it rattle-a favorite mousie might work too!)

If you raise your pet smart he will be smart, and will understand his boundaries as long as you are consistent.

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Questions

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By 0 found this helpful
September 3, 2009

Why is my cat starting to bite me? We've always got along marvelously once I tamed him. He came pretty much feral out of the fields, but with lots of attention and plenty of food he became mostly tame.

Now suddenly, he's started asking for attention, but then whipping around and biting me. He is not drawing blood, not even breaking skin, just really hard fully open mouthed hard nips that are more than a nip, raising welts and no warning growl or hiss. He is really loving one moment, aggressive the next.

He isn't rabid, he doesn't come charging at me and attack. We're having a quiet time, he's just joined me so he isn't over stimulated. I don't understand this change in behavior. He's an indoor/outdoor cat, and he's been getting realyl aggressive with his pal, another cat, lately. We just don't understand this change in personality.

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By nekocat from OR

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September 3, 20090 found this helpful

Has he had a rabies shot?

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September 3, 20090 found this helpful

Sometimes when a cat is injured or sick, he feels vulnerable and threatened whenever anyone comes near him. This could cause the cat to be aggressive. You might want to observe the cat to see if he has any symptoms of an illness.

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September 3, 20090 found this helpful

One of our cats did the same thing. We took him to the vet who said he had a temperature and was sick. The vet put him on antibiotics and and few days later he was fine. Our vet said that cats can become aggressive if sick. She also said some cats become aggressive if over stimulated. Our other cat nips (hard) if petted too long.

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September 4, 20090 found this helpful

Is he neutered? That is a really important clue if he isn't. Get a squirt gun and every time he does this, squirt him and yell no!

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September 4, 20090 found this helpful

Yes to both wolfbytez and Pikka, he was fixed as a kitten (he's 6 years old-we think, came in from the fields starving and undersized at 6mo or younger) and he's up to date on his rabies shots. he is funny with being touched, he either really wants petted, or just wants one stroke and no more. but he climbed into my lap the night he grabbed me. It was a wide open mouth grab, and he snapped shut-but did not bite, that was an incorrect assessment on my part.

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I've figured out he was trying to tell me something, but I'm not sure what. recently he's been coming in and settling into the chair I was in, maybe he thought I was in the wrong chair. although it hurt quite a bit, and raised some welts, he didn't draw blood, and it's almost completely healed-there's one tiny spot where a fang left a dent that's sensitive when touched, but no longer can be seen.

I've been watching him for worms, and he's breaking a record for length of time free of worms (he's a very active hunter and there's lots of voles and field mice out here). he hasn't had an injury in quite a while. does have a tiny bit of a weepy eye, but that's as likely to be from dust in the eye (we live on a dusty dirt road as from illness. his nose is as it should be, so I think he's well. I'll check him again when he comes in tonight.

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September 5, 20090 found this helpful

This is probably a medical problem. Take him to the vet and have him checked out - blood work too.

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September 5, 20090 found this helpful

I would take him to the vet to get checked out. There is always a reason for a change in behavior.

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September 6, 20090 found this helpful

I've had cats my entire life, worked at our shelter, and take in strays. One of my cats that I've had for over 10 years does the same thing. It's really odd, and I believe that it is just something that is instinctual. He'll be purring and happy, then just turn and bite. Yes, he's been fixed years ago and has his shots. I really don't think he's being mean. If you watch cats play, they'll fight and bite each other all the time. A few times, he has bitten really hard and seemed vicious, then will just turn and nudge me for attention. I believe that it's kind of like dogs trying to be the head of the pack. We've learned that he turns his ears back when he's in the mood. Sometimes, it can be caused by overstimulation, but only occassionally, and is intensified when he simply doesn't want to be bothered. It can be a frustrating behavior.

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September 6, 20090 found this helpful

He either needs neutered or he just plain doesn't feel good. Did he just have a vaccine? If so, his immune system may be all messed up. Build his immune system up with good diet. No grains, fillers. Nzymes are good. Probiotics are good. Try a container of yogurt that has lots and lots of the ophelusses. Cats love yogurt. Not too much tuna--it has mercury in it. Fresh foods are best but not always possible..that is the reason for Nzymes. They really do help. Oh, possible dental problem? Jealousy? Something new in the house? Change in routine?

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By 0 found this helpful
March 11, 2010

I have a 2 year old cat name Maddie, that I rescued when she was only 4 weeks old. She had no siblings or mother cat. I nursed her and she has grown to be quite a big cat.

The problem is that while I am petting her, she will be purring and then she'll bite, latch onto my arm, dig in with her sharp nails (since I can't trim them) using all four paws and draw blood. I can't even pull her off me by scruffing her since she is so heavy. I always cry in pain and the scratches can be very deep.

I rescued 2 other kittens about a year ago and they are the sweetest kittens. Maddie and the other kittens don't get along, but they learned Maddie will tolerate them as long as they don't get too close to her. At this time, I was living by myself in a 2 bedroom apartment. Maddie had her room and the kittens had my room (since I stopped Maddie from going into my room because I wasn't sure if she would bite/scratch me).

Now, I have to move and I'm moving to a smaller place with young girls I'll be taking care of, who love cats. I'm afraid Maddie might bite and scratch. Also, since I'll only have one room in the house I don't know how Maddie is going to get along with the other cats.

Basically, I'm afraid of Maddie. She's a big cat with sharp claws that I can't really groom because I'm afraid of her attacking me. What should I do? Can anyone recommend any rescue organizations that will take in an aggressive cat like Maddie?

I just don't think I can take care of her anymore. I feel so bad, but I'm scared she might hurt someone. Are there any options for me?

By Janet from Fullerton, CA

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March 12, 20100 found this helpful

My daughter has a big male cat that acts just like yours! In fact, he scares me to death because he will be nice & purr while I pet him, then suddenly he will lash out & scratch or bite me & I never know WHEN this will happen. My daughter seems to know his subtle clues, but I can't see them!

I will tell you what I do when my new (older) kitten bites me. At first, I'd just yell "no!" quickly & loudly, & sometime that works, not always. But what I've found (at least for my cat) that works even better is, I make that same loud hissing sound that a cat makes if its warning another cat to back away. This loud-quick hissing sound never fails to stop my older kitten in her tracks. She stops, looks at me & just stares. It's like I am talking in her language. In our family we call this cat hissing sound "Keying" because the cat says "Keeey!". You'd have to practice this "hisss" sound in the car or somewhere that your cat can't hear you until you have it down pat.

Your cat will most likely not be safe around small children. But, what's interesting is, my daughters big male cat that I described above, will never hurt my granddaughter. She can pull his tail, lay on him or do anything to him & he will not hurt or even hiss at her. She is now 7, but even when she was learning to walk & fell on him, he never did anything! & the strangest thing is, that whenever she cries (for real, not if she fakes it) this big male cat will always come running & lay or sit right next to my granddaughter to make sure she is okay! But he was there when she came home from the hospital as a baby, so this may make a difference. But even as a newborn, he would always come running whenever my granddaughter cried. But with me? He'll reach out & bite or dig his nails in to me when I least expect it! Yikes!

What I am saying is you don't yet know how you cat will handle children in a small space. Maybe he will run & hide under the bed, maybe he will lash out. I'd build him a high, sheltered perch up by the ceiling where he can go to escape & feel safe. At least get him a special box to hide away in, with holes cut so he can look out. Also, be sure to think positive & keep calm when & if you introduce him to the kids!

I will talk to my daughter who reads every "Cat Fancy" (the magazine about cats) & see if I find a possible solution. If you cat may bite someone, be sure he has all his shots (especially rabies!) & keep the paperwork handy!

To cut your cat's nails, have someone hold him inside of a big thick towel while you quickly & carefully cut his nails, or take him in to the vet & have it done for $15. Or you may want to try the "Emery Cat" as seen on TV. A scratching pad that supposedly files a cats nails.

To buy emery cat: https://www.eme  t.com/flare/next

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March 12, 20100 found this helpful

I have a large female cat like this. First I changed her food. That actually helped out a lot. She had digestive problems that were causing her pain and thus causing her to scratch. It sounds like this may be part of the case with your cat. If the cat is purring while being petted then starts to scratch and bite, that is usually a response to pain. We started using a cat food for cats with sensitive stomachs on a guess that this was it, and it really helped out very much. She stopped almost all together.

The other problem is that she was the first cat in your house then you brought in 2 others that took her place. By all rights she should be the lead cat since she was first and she lost that to the other two which would cause her to be very angry and resentful to you and the cats. You need to find a way to make her feel that she is still the first cat not the third cat. The last and most important thing is this. If that cat bites you, you do not let her bite you or scratch you. You have to show her that this behavior will be met with equal resistance.

I mean that you have to be her boss when she is doing this to you she is being your boss and that is not good. That is letting her know it is ok to hurt you and it is not. So when she bites you really need to give her a firm smack on the bottom end. I know many people would look down on this but look at this way. If she were to do this to another animal they would do much worse then this. They would bite and scratch her and pull out her hair causing her to bleed and cry but in the end showing her that she can not do this to them.

If and when you give her a firm smack on the bottom you do not back down from her. She will run then you will tell her no no no in a firm voice. You keep eye contact with her until she looks away from you making sure she looks away first so that she know you are dominate. This should only have to be done by you a few times before it stops happening all together. Then you will have a happy cat again. Please let me know how this works out for you.Thanks.

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Anonymous
March 12, 20100 found this helpful

There's good advice here but IMHO the best place to call and ask these questions is the ASPCA! They are specialists and can give you advice and/or help you find Maddie a new home if need be!

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March 14, 20100 found this helpful

Earlier I posted that I use the same loud hissing sound (with my mouth) that a cat uses to warn other cats away, but I wanted to mention another effective technique that someone recently told me about. If you buy a can of air (like you use to clean camera insides & computers with) at the office supply store (like Office Depot) or Walmart and you quickly spray it when the cat does something wrong, you can eventually teach the cat not to bite (or do whatever). The air coming out of the can makes the same noise as a snake hissing, so the cat immediately stops what he's doing!

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February 17, 20110 found this helpful

Chuckie did that and is still tempted to (I can tell), but he does not do it since I yelled at him in a very loud and angry tone. I then take my hand away and will not pay attention to him for several minutes or more-it worked. It hurt so bad unlike any other kitten or cat - he would draw blood and not let go.

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By 0 found this helpful
January 28, 2015

My 12 week old kitten (Autum) will not stop biting. I've tried everything I could think of, but yet she still gets excited and chews on me like her first fresh kill. I don't know what to do about this. Can someone help me?

By Paige from Decatur, GA

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January 28, 20150 found this helpful

First, don't play with her using your hands. Use a wand toy or stuffed toy. If she bites you, have something handy to redirect her to. Next, when she bites, use a high-pitched shrieking noise, like "Eeee!" This is how cats tell each other, "You've hurt me!" She will learn this way.

Don't pull your hand or foot away, just stay still and make the noise. Pulling away makes them think you are playing keep-away, and that makes them even more excited for this "fun game."

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January 28, 20150 found this helpful

Thanks I will try this. Update will come soon (hopefully).

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By 0 found this helpful
April 29, 2011

We have a kitten that is about 4 months old. He is extremely hyper as well as destructive, not to mention he was encouraged to bite (by his previous owner). We would like to transition him from all of this negative behavior to a more positive way. Any suggestions?

By Sadie Lynn

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April 30, 20110 found this helpful

If you are able to, I would seriously look at getting a companion kitten. Cats (especially rowdy kittens!) tend to do better with company. Also, at this age you may consider getting him/her fixed. Many times having a pet fixed will calm down their craziness! Also, call your local shelter for other ideas. Good Luck!

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May 3, 20110 found this helpful

Hello Sadie,

Well, your new kitten needs to have things that he can play with. Make sure he has plenty of cat toys around to distract him. Please do not punish him for biting, this will only encourage him or make him afraid of you. Please have plenty of food & water available to him and also a fresh litter box. Making sure he is comfortable in his new environment is very important. Does he have a bed? or a high place to jump to? You might want to get him a cat tower so he has something to climb and has his own space. Don't encourage "rough" play with him. Getting another kitten about the same age will certainly help but having two kittens can cause an extra expense. Good luck. Oh, is your kitten neutered? if not, he can be neutered now along with getting all his vaccines. Good luck.

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By 0 found this helpful
March 20, 2011

My kitten not only bites me for attention, but if he is upset with me he will bite me. Thanks for your other comments on biting for attention. Any help here? He is a 9 month old, sweet, neutered male, otherwise.
Thanks again.

By Frankie

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Answers

March 21, 20110 found this helpful

I have used a spray bottle of water to train my cats not to scratch, fight, etc and I think it would work as well for biting, with a strong NO! A black cat who adopted us around Halloween last year has a bad habit of biting and I smack him softly with a strong No! and he seems to be getting the idea. He is just playing but bites too hard.

Pat

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