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Breed & Health Resources

Why does my cat bite?

By Lea Jaratz

kitten biting finger

When they’re sleeping, kittens are precious little darlings. Nothing cuter on earth. But when they’re awake, they’re like little velociraptor ninjas, attacking your feet and hands without warning, never letting on who their next victim might be. That’s the nature of kittens, but if you’re wondering why your kitten is attacking you and how to stop your cat from biting, we’ve got answers.

Why does my kitten bite me?

Kittens bite as part of their social play. The good news is that if your kitten is biting, they’re probably developmentally normal. It’s all part of the rough housing they would normally do with littermates – giving nips to each other and exploring their surroundings with their mouths.

Normally, if a kitten bites too hard, a momma cat or littermate corrects the behavior, teaching the kitten to use their mouth in a constructive way. However, a kitten who grows up away from their mom or littermates is slow to pick up on queues from humans. Since we’re not able to bite back, we have to train them to bite appropriately instead.

How to Stop a Kitten from Biting

Don’t Use Your Hands as Toys

The best way to keep from getting bitten during play time is to make sure your hands aren’t part of the play. Don’t tickle or wrestle your kitten when they’re excited or use your hands as a lure or bait for them to attack.

Redirect Away from Your Hands

If they bite you during play, say a clear “no” and offer appropriate chew toys. Use a fishing pole or other cat toy so your hands are removed from the action when you’re playing. If they’re getting feisty, rub a toy on their tummy to encourage them to bite that instead.

Make Yourself Uninteresting

When your kitten bites you, freeze right away. Shouting or making a yelping sound might make her fearful of you, but freezing and ignoring them makes you uninteresting and removes any possible reward in the form of your attention.

If they’re causing you pain, push them away, but don’t react in an excitable way. You can leave the room to remove yourself, but it’s probably better that you don’t touch them at all. When they calm down, pay a little attention to them, but stop if the biting starts again.

Be Consistent in Training

It’s important to be consistent to teach your cat not to bite – make sure your family members follow the same rules. Eventually, with consistency and redirection, your kitten will likely stop stalking and biting you. Once you notice your kitten is following you but isn’t biting, make sure to praise them and give a special treat.

Continue to make playing with your kitten a regular part of your routine and they’ll learn how to get attention without using those razor-sharp fangs.

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