Have a kitten or cat that won’t stop biting? Alicia Wilson is a long-time volunteer with For Animals, Inc. in South Ozone Park, Queens, New York. Here are her tips to putting an end to the feline fury.
#1 – Find out why
The first way to address your cat’s biting depends on why he is doing it. It could be that he gets overzealous during play, he is bored or frustrated, or he is asking you to stop doing something but you don’t hear him. Once you know this, you can plan how to make him stop.
#2 – Don’t use your hand as a “toy”
Sometimes cats get so into their play that they forget themselves. Don’t use your hand as a toy with your cat; instead use a toy that keeps your hands a safe distance from his mouth. (For example, Da Bird Feather Toy).
#3 – Stop the play
If you think your cat actually goes after you during play and it is more than just incidental contact, call a time out. You can do this by turning your back to him as soon as he bites, cutting off the play immediately. Don’t speak to him or resume play for one minute. After a few cycles of this, he will get the message.
#4 – Start using time-out
If that doesn’t work, you can try sending a stronger message by changing scenery. When he bites you, stop the play, pick him up, bring him to another room, and walk away. This will help him make a clear connection between biting and the fun times ending.
#5 – Tire him out
If your cat is attacking you outside of play, he probably needs to drain some of his energy. Spend time playing with him until you can see he is tired. If he doesn’t seem to respond to other toys, a laser pointer is a good option. (But don’t overuse it — for more on the merits and drawbacks of playing with a laser, take a look at an article by Jackson Galaxy.)
#6 – Relieve his anxiety
Sometimes cats transfer the aggression they feel toward something else to whomever may be next to them, and this can result in what seems to be vicious and unprovoked attacks. It may help your cat’s anxiety to keep some Feliway diffusers plugged in around the house. The synthetic feline pheromone helps cats feel more secure.
#7 – Speak to your vet
Your vet may be able to prescribe some food or medication to help calm your cat’s nerves. Some brands even make food with tryptophan to help cats relax.
#8 – Proper handling
Don’t reach over your cat to pet him. While this may be acceptable to some cats, it is definitely not acceptable to others. See if this overhead approach correlates with what seems like “out of nowhere” biting. If so, approach the side of your cat’s face with the back of your hand to pet him, rather than going for the top of his head or his body.
#9 – Build his trust
Learn to recognize when your cat does not want to be handled and would rather be alone. A whipping tail and huge pupils are a good start. If he knows he can trust you to give him space when he wants it, he will be less likely to bite you, in general.