Does Your Cat Bite You?
9 September, 2013

We love our playful kittens and cats, but when they bite us, it hurts!  Of course there are the little playful non-bites that are cute and tolerable, but then there is that real one that can break your skin and sting!  Our cats and kittens can be trained to stop biting us with a little time and effort.  However, punishing your cat is cruel and won’t break the habit.

Watch your cat’s signs/body language

Whenever I play with my cat, Sammy, he gets antagonistic after about five to ten minutes when petting certain areas. And, each of our cats has a trigger point.  If your cat becomes over-stimulated within five minutes of petting and/or stroking, then stop at three minutes. Don’t push your kitty over the edge and then wonder why he starts biting you!


Watch your cat and notice his or her body language when he gets over stimulated or irritated. Usually his or her ears will flatten or your kitty will turn and stare at you as his tail will start to flick. There is a fine line between pleasurable petting and irritating handling. When your cat has had enough, the only way it knows how to stop you is to bite you.  So, clearly, pay attention to his or her needs.

Set up play sessions

Play sessions are the best way to teach your cat not to bite. Cats will bite and claw when they are playing and acting out their hunting instincts. Playtime is the best time to teach your cat that he must be careful and gentle.  The goal is to only allow your cat to play using his paws, not his claws. He should be taught never to bite you.

Play with your cat until he gets riled up

Start by playing with your cat with a toy or a fishing net and continuously praise your cat when he is being gentle. Gradually increase the excitement and intensity of the game, keeping your eyes glued to your kitty. As soon as you see that your cat is getting too excited or he begins to expose his teeth, tone down the play session or walk away.  This usually causes a cat to calm down and retract its claws.

If your kitty complies, then resume playing. If not, the play must not resume until your cat calms down and retracts his claws. If your cat bites hard, simply say ‘ouch’” and immediately stop playing.   Cats, especially kittens, love to play. By abruptly ending a play session is an extremely strong message. With a few repetitions, your cat will soon learn that it is his own rough and overly aggressive behavior that causes the abrupt end of an enjoyable play session.

Playing with your cat needs to be interactive

If you simply toss a few toys on the floor, your cat may give them a few swats then quickly lose interest. It is up to you to make the toys fun. Play should be an interactive game between you and your cat. Tie a toy to the end of a length of string. Drag it around your house with kitty in pouncing pursuit.  Get something that will stimulate your cat’s interest and participation.  If your cat doesn’t like one toy, try another one.

Distract your cat

If your cat is sitting next to you and starts to bite you, have an alternative item for you kitty to bite instead i.e. a towel, a soft toy or pillow. You can also try this if your cat likes to bite you when you are sleeping.  Have a pillow, soft toy or something else to give your cat immediately and then praise your cat for biting the proper item.

Never punish your cat

As I mentioned above, it is never productive or humane to punish your cat.  If you yell or hit your cat, he will run away and not learn that biting is a bad behavior only that you hit him or her.   Instead, work with your cat or kitten to teach them that biting is an undesirable behavior.  And when your cat plays nicely, reward your cat with a treat for not biting you and playing properly!

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