Like all animals, cats are unpredictable and there is no situation where this is more apparent than when cats bite their owners for no apparent reason.
Understandably a worrisome scenario, many people are confused and concerned when their beloved pet behaves in this way.
For the most part, cats biting their owners is merely a misunderstanding of intentions. Cats can be moody creatures and if you take them beyond their comfort zones, it’s natural for them to lash out. Some cats even bite their owners when they’re asleep!
This behavior can be corrected and controlled and there are many steps you can take to bring out your feline’s more civilized side.
In this article, we’ll try to uncover the problematic nature of biting, what might cause it, and what you can do to stop it once and for all.
Why should I be concerned?
For some people, their cat biting their hands and feet would be a non-issue as they might see it as a form of affection.
Even if that is the case, there are many reasons why this behavior should be strongly discouraged and corrected as soon as possible both for your safety and your pet’s.
1. It’s dangerous
The first and most important reason is that your cat biting or scratching you is a dangerous practice.
Your kitten might not be a threat to your safety, but full-grown cats have razor-sharp teeth that can make seriously deep cuts in your flesh.
They also have a set of claws to match and together they can make undisciplined cats a big safety concern especially if you have little children around.
For safety information see: What to do if a s you.
2. Risk of infection
Statistically, you are far more likely to be infected by a dangerous disease through a cat bite than a dog bite. Bite wounds that are left untreated can develop into ailments like ‘cat scratch fever’. Cat scratch fever causes symptoms like flu and can even cause serious complications like vision loss and encephalopathy.
3. Reinforces bad habits
If you don’t take measures to stop behaviors like biting quickly, the habit can get reinforced into your pet’s psyche. This might make biting more regular and intense and can make it even more difficult for you to put an end to it. This is because your cat starts believing that this is an acceptable means of communication and will resort to biting you out of nowhere to make a point like signalling hunger or boredom.
So biting is definitely not a good habit for your pet to develop.
The next step is to figure out the root of the issue and then take the necessary measures to stop it.
So Why do Cats Bite Their Owners for No Reason? (Hint: There’s always a reason)
Here are some reasons why your cat might be biting you and the steps you need to take to make your pet as friendly as, well, a kitten.
1. You’re doing something wrong
One of the most common reasons for cats biting their owners is simply the fact that something you’re doing might not be sitting well with Cuddles.
If your cat is calm and then very suddenly bites you, there is a very good chance you did something that irked it in some way. This usually happens when you pet your cat too hard or too aggressively. Like we previously mentioned cats are moody creatures and while they love affection, overstimulating them or overstaying your welcome is not taken kindly.
This doesn’t necessarily make your cat your mortal enemy though. Most of the time, cats don’t mean their owners harm at all. They just don’t know how to communicate their feelings and resort to the natural way: to bite you till you stop.
There might also be some underlying injury your cat has that you aren’t aware of. If you accidentally brush or rub the hurt area, your cat might see it as a hostile gesture. Sick cats are also prone to erratic behaviors like biting and can get very aggressive as they start feeling more and more threatened.
How to correct it?
The first step is to understand the signs your cat is displaying and its body language.
Your cat will signal beforehand when you’re getting on its nerves and biting incidents usually only happen when you ignore those signs or are unaware of them. Common signs to look out for include:
. Narrowed eyes
. Rolled back ears
. Skin rippling.
. A profound absence or immediate stop in purring.
. Continuous growling.
. Tail lashing
If you sense any of these signs, stop what you’re doing, and leave your cat alone. Something is bothering it and continuing after these signs are prevalent is an invitation for a painful bite or scratch.
After you get used to this, you’ll start to identify what your cat likes and what it doesn’t. Some cats might love belly rubs while some will absolutely detest them. This will help you cater your playtime to ensure you and your pet are comfortable and you don’t do anything to annoy it.
If your cat is injured or sick, get an appointment with the vet immediately. There’s a good chance that solving the offending ailment will cure the biting and bad behavior as well.
See also: Why does my cat bite me while purring?
2. You have a kitten
Biting issues with your kitten are probably not a problem.
Young cats usually bite as a sign of affection and their naturally playful nature makes this a hallmark feature when they rough house with their siblings or even their owners.
If a kitten is playing with you it might bite your hand or fingers as a form of frisky playfulness. This won’t hurt very much, and some people find it to be cute and endearing.
However, it might become an issue if you let it go unchecked as the habit might get ingrained in your kitten’s mind. Like we previously mentioned this can breed bad habits that carry well into adulthood and is not something you should promote or propagate.
How to stop your kitten from biting?
If you have more than one kitten, chances are the problem will sort itself out in due time.
When kitten’s play they eventually learn that biting causes pain. This teaches them not to use it as often and they start seeing it as a negative thing.
If you have just one kitten however, you might have to work a little bit harder. Like we mentioned, it’s natural for kittens to bite but after a point, you should start changing this habit.
The first step is to not let them see your hands as chew toys. Whenever your kitten tries to bite your hand withdraw for some time. If you keep giving your hand to be bitten, the kitten will start associating that action with it.
Another way that can help is by rewarding good behavior with treats. If your cat obeys your wish and does not bite, a treat will help reinforce that good habit and a repeat will be much more likely. Redirecting your kitten’s attention when she tries to bite also helps.
If all else fails and your kitten is hell-bent on biting you, grabbing them by the scruff of their necks might do the trick. This is how their mothers carry them and you can think of it like a ‘time out’ for your kitten. This should be used very sparingly in severe cases however as this is not a highly recommended way of disciplining your pet.
3. Your cat’s trying to show you who’s boss
Cats are instinctive, highly territorial animals.
If your cat is biting you, it might be as a show of dominance. This can sometimes be the case when a full-grown cat is introduced to a home. The unfamiliar surroundings and its new owners activate a cat’s genetic predisposition to stay on top of the food chain and it does this by scratching, hissing, or biting.
If you find your cat is displaying aggressive body language and characteristics and is also not backing down or responding to your tactics then this is a good sign it’s trying to intimidate you.
What should you do?
There are a couple of things you can do to solve this particular issue.
One way is to trim down your cat’s claws to help reduce the damage they might do. You should be doing this anyways, aggressive pet or not. Obviously, this is a short-term solution and the underlying issue still needs to be addressed.
You can use corrective words like “NO” or “STOP” whenever your cat tries to bite. Continuous use of phrases like this might reinforce the action in your pet and could stop it from trying to bite you again. Make sure to use a loud, firm voice and to repeat the same phrase each time.
If none of these steps work and your cat is unrelenting, then it’s best to go to your vet or another animal behavior specialist. Some things might be out of your control and the unfortunate fact is that some animals might be too dangerous to train or domesticate on your own. External help is definitely recommended in such cases.
4. Other causes
These tie into the other factors we’ve mentioned.
If you adopted your cat either as an abandoned animal or a stray, the habits mentioned in our 3rd reason might be prevalent. Bad owners or just poor upbringing will probably cause this, and the cure is the same as the 3rd reason as well.
Your cat might also be partial to biting strangers or guests. This is just because the cat is afraid and does not trust the new person. In these cases, it is important for you to tell your guests not to pet or fondle your cat as it will lash out and hurt them.
After a certain time period, house cats become accustomed to these things and might not react the same way but in the beginning, it’s always important to lay down ground rules for your cat and your guest’s sake.
We hope this article has helped shine some light on this annoying yet normal and wholly manageable cat behavior. No matter how bad your pet misbehaves, if you show it affection, and understand its issues they will definitely change their ways.
For more helpful tips and advice, be sure to check out the rest of our content and feel free to share this resource with other cat owners who might have the same question. If you have other queries be sure to leave them down in the comments.
And remember that trust is the glue that holds every relationship together and our animal friends are no different.
Treat them well and they will always return the favor.