Playtime with your cat can quickly become unpleasant if kitty starts biting you. Although biting and scratching is a normal part of cat behavior, a properly socialized cat knows how to control its strength. It does not usually bite or scratch to the point of drawing blood. There are several reasons why your cat can lack this self-control, and knowing why is the first step to controlling the problem.
When young kittens are taken away from their mothers too early, they fail to learn to control the strength of their biting and scratching. A kitten which spends enough time with its mother and litter mates quickly learns that biting its playmates too hard causes playtime to end. Kittens without this social skill, on the other hand, grow up into cats which bite and scratch too hard. Many owners tend to make this condition worse. When playing with their kitten or cat, they inadvertently do things which further encourage this behavior. These actions encourage and cement this behavior of biting and scratching in their cats.
This, then, is one key to controlling this playtime aggression. When kitty bites or scratches too hard, you should stop playing with it. Just ignore it - do not pay attention and do not punish your cat. Eventually, it will learn that biting and scratching too hard will lead to the end of playtime. Exactly the same as a young kitten with its mother and litter mates.
Now, sometimes it seems that both you and kitty are spending some quality time together. Both of you are having fun playing, when your cat suddenly becomes violent and bites and scratches you. There does not seem to be any reason for this sudden aggression. Some animal behaviorists believe that this happens because you have over-stimulated kitty and it is now channeling that into aggressive behavior. Regardless of the actual cause, there is agreement that there are two steps you need to take to handle this problem:
- Be aware of your cat's behavior during playtime. Before it starts to bite and scratch you, there will be a change of behavior - ears flattening, fur standing up, body hunching, etc. This is your window.
- Stop petting or playing with kitty when you notice the change in behavior. Just stop - ignore your cat and go about your own business. This will usually defuse your cat's aggression.
- Note that this is a bit different from a kitten taken away from its mother while too young. An under-socialized kitten always bites and scratches too hard during playtime.
Cats are hunters. This is their natural instinct, and you will often see these characteristics when you play with kitty. You will see them hunched down to their belly, stalking their toy or a mouse or cockroach before pouncing on it. This can be a problem when they decide to ambush you when you are doing your chores, or just as you are going to bed. Your cat biting when under the control of its hunting instinct can be particularly painful. One way of controlling this problem is to have at least two or three regularly scheduled playtimes with kitty. You want to bleed off its excess energy regularly.
If you want to learn more about how to train your cat and stop its bad behavior in 13 days, click here: cat training.