Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Ouch - Why did you bite me?

I am pretty sure most cat owners have been bitten from time to time.  If biting is happening regularly though, it’s not good.  This post will give you 7 tips to help you discover why the cat is biting and how you can train away this behaviour.

The first thing to ask yourself is;


You can’t really address this problem until you understand why your cat is biting you.  There are many reasons but common ones include; getting over-excited whilst playing, boredom or frustration, maybe your cat is scared, or even ill.  Once you understand this, you can hatch a plan to get it under control.


If your cat is biting during play, he is probably getting over-excited and not meaning to hurt you at all.  Try to always play with toys and never use your hand as the toy.  Toys like feather sticks etc are great for this as your hand is kept at a safe distance.  You may get nipped accidentally from time to time but you are looking out for him actually going for your hand.


If your cat does bite you during play, and you can see that he did this on purpose then call a time out.  The best way to do this with a cat is to stop playing immediately.  Ignore him completely for at least 1 minute and then turn back and make friends.  You can continue this cycle multiple times and he will catch on, eventually!


If your cats is randomly biting outside of play, chances are he is bored or frustrated. After the initial bite, ignore him for at least one minute (as above) and then find a toy and play with him until he is worn out.  You should play with your cat every day anyway – it is a great way to bond as well as helping him exercise and use up some energy.  Some cats like specific toys more than others so try a selection of toys until you learn what he likes.  Sometimes cats will play as soon as you start waggling a toy – others need you to persevere for a bit longer!  With Melly Boy you need quite a lot of patience!


Transferred aggression means that your cat is stressed or anxious about something unrelated to you, but they are taking it out on you.  It could be a multitude of different thing; not being able to go out due to horrid weather, territory problems with another cat (Melly Boy had this problem for a while), changes to the home, work being carried out etc.  Try to find the source of the problem to eradicate it, if you can.  Where this is not possible you can try Feliway which is a plug in diffuser that secrets a synthetic pheromone.  This can be very effective with many cats.


Sometimes cats can bite when they are startled (this has happened with MellyBoy a few times as you’ll have seen from my other blogs).  Try not to reach over his body to pet him.  If he is a nervous cat as he may feel threatened by this.  For instance, with Melly Boy, I have to approach his face from the front/side with the back of my hand rather than going to the top of his head.  Then, when he relaxes I can stroke him anywhere (apart from his tummy!).

Also remember, cats don’t always want to be handled all of the time so learn to understand his body language and when he wants some time on his own, respect that.  This picture may help – Cats Body Language


There are two good reasons to speak to your vet in this situation.  The first is that the aggression could be caused by your cat being ill so it is important that your vet give him a full check-up.  Secondly, if there are no medical issues and the problem is persisting, your vet can sometimes prescribe special food or medication to calm your cats mood.

Cheeky Melly Boy - This bite isn't aggressive - he is asking for attention!

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