How to teach the cat to stop biting?

Aggressive behavior in cats is unpleasant and leads to a degradation of the relationship with the owner.

How to educate cats that bite? We will explain the various types of aggression that can lead to cat bites and how to reduce them.

Why do cats bite their owners?

Cat aggression can lead to a bad relationship with the owners. In severe cases, the cat attacks the face, the bite or scratches are deep and the owner cannot stop it from expressing these behaviors.

If your cat has attacked you, don’t forget to wash the wound with soap and water and then disinfect it.

Aggressiveness problems have four origins, however the possibility that the cat is suffering from pathology with pain should always be ruled out. Identifying which of the four aggressions suffers is essential for the treatment plan:

  • fear aggression
  • Play aggression (predatory)
  • Aggression during caresses
  • redirected aggression

Aggressive cat signs

Knowing how to identify when the cat is aggressive can help you avoid being attacked. Thus, the cat is aggressive when it demonstrates:

  • Stare;
  • Dilated pupils;
  • Ears back;
  • Raised back hair;
  • Snort or growl.

How to deal with cats that bite?

Educating the biting cat can be a challenge. The first step is to define which of the attacks suffers to make a plan for its solution:

  • Fear aggression: avoid exposure to stimuli or train the cat to tolerate them.
  • Play aggression: encourage playing with toys and when attacked, end the game and move away from the cat.
  • Aggression during petting: be aware of the signs and stop before biting, train them to tolerate caresses better.
  • Redirected aggression: avoid exposure to stimuli.

Another important factor is the stimulating environment that allows the cat to release its energies and apply its hunter spirit during play. When he is small he should be socialized to learn to deal with humans and animals. A good education can avoid these problems and allow your cat to grow up healthy.

Fear aggression

The frightened cat will try to run away, but when cornered it will show a defensive posture and may attack. The signs of a scared cat are:

  • Shrunken;
  • Dilated pupils;
  • Goose bumps on the back;
  • Snort or growl.

Fearful cats may try to attack with the front paw before biting. In the case of traumatized cats, they may attack without warning.

Therefore, cats should not be exposed to situations that cause fear. What to do when the cat is scared? If you allow it to escape to a safe place (eg a room when you have guests, a closed bed) it will not attack.

On the other hand, they can be trained to deal with the situation that causes them fear. Thus, you can put the cat in a cage so that he can watch the situation and begin to tolerate it. You can also use feline pheromones to reduce anxiety.

Play aggression (predatory)

The cat uninhibitedly scratches and bites the owner while playing or ambushing and attacking the ankles. In this case, attention should be directed to the toys, play sessions and stop the session if the cat bites the person.

Why do cats bite their owners while playing?

When in the litter, kittens learn to control bite force and retract their claws during play. If they hurt the siblings or the mother, they will mew in complaint and retaliate. And so slowly the kitten learns to control its strength. If the kitten was taken too early from the litter, it won’t learn how to play without hurting it. It is up to the owner to teach the kitten.

After being attacked you must not:

  • Screaming or shaking at the cat that scratches or bites because it creates more stress;
  • Pamper the cat to calm it down because it teaches the cat that attacking is good.

Thus, when cats bite or scratch a lot during play, games that lead to these behaviors should be avoided.

The cat’s attention should be focused on the toys, being able to release its energy on them and not on the owner.

When the cat is getting very excited, reduce the intensity of the game or stop for a few moments and start again. In this way, it prevents the cat from getting carried away and losing control.

If the cat becomes aggressive, abruptly end the game at that point and leave his side. Over time, cats associate stopping playing with hurting their owner, and since they want to continue playing, they will avoid hurting.

Alternatively, you can adopt a cat as a playmate who will teach you to moderate biting and scratching.


Punishments never include hitting the cat. Punishments should be unpleasant situations for the cat, such as jets of water (water gun or spray bottle), horns or other unpleasant sound, or putting the cat alone in a room. However, they should be used with caution because they could have consequences: the jet of water could cause a phobia of water; the frustrated cat could become more aggressive, or start to fear the owner.

Aggression during caresses

The cat is on our lap enjoying the treats we give it when it suddenly bites and leaves the lap upset. 

It could be the way to end the interaction, to say “that’s enough!”, or maybe cats have a limit after which petting becomes annoying.

You should be aware of the cat’s body language that tells you that it’s time to stop caressing:

  • Tail flickering;
  • Turning of the ears;
  • Restlessness;
  • Nibbling.

So, if you observe these signs, you should stop the session before being bitten . The better you know your cat, the better you can predict when to stop.

Another alternative is to give the cat treats during the petting session to train it to be more tolerant.

Redirected aggression

It occurs when the cat is unable to respond to a stimulus and therefore “offloads” on another individual, often the owner.

This can happen when the cat sees another cat outside that it cannot attack, or when it is frightened by visitors and ends up scratching the owner who tries to take it to a room.

In these cases, it is best to avoid exposing the cat to stimuli (eg, avoiding access to windows where cats are seen, locking them in the room before visitors arrive) because the aggression is severe.

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