Along with litter box failures, biting cats are one of the biggest behavior problems for their owners. Most cat owners do not understand this behavior among their cats, so they tend not to handle it properly. Many feel that biting the cat is a good way to discourage this behavior, but they usually end up getting a second bite or a lovely scratch or two in return.
One of the best ways to stop cat biting is to never allow the behavior in the first place. Using your hand or foot as a ‘spider’ or other type of monster while playing with your kitty lets her know that attacking and biting is acceptable. Small teeth grow into large teeth and a cat taught to play this way as a kitten will generally want to play the same game in adulthood. My husband played with our cat when she was young rubbing his foot on her stomach until she attacked. Now that it is fully grown, it will still periodically lie on the ground near your foot and bite and scratch it. He screams and I smile sweetly and mention that I told him it was a bad idea a long time ago.
Always be aware of your cat’s body language. If she’s lying comfortably on your lap while you pet her, pay attention to what she’s trying to say. When it has had enough or you have touched a sensitive area, it will give you a warning before the imminent bite. The signs will include a flattening of the ears, a flick of the tail, and its head will turn toward your hand. When you notice this happening, stop stroking immediately. If you’re still not sure, get up to force her to jump.
Stalking cats pretend that their prey bite too. Again, body language will tell you everything. Before attacking, it will crouch down, flatten its ears, its pupils will dilate, and it will flap its tail or wag its butt. Although this is just his way of honing his skills, attacks can hurt if you are the target. If you see her getting ready to jump, divert her attention by rolling a toy on the ground or placing a stuffed animal between you and the cat. Let your cat fight and play with the toy and praise it. Another great cat toy is one that you can drop on the ground and let your kitty run after him.
If your cat bites your hand, yell “Oww” or “No.” This will usually surprise her and let her go. Pushing your hand toward her instead of away, like a prey would when trying to escape, is another way to make it easier for her to let go. Once you’ve got your hand back, walk away from the cat and ignore it.
By being persistent and always discouraging or redirecting behavior, biting cats will soon stop using you as their primary target.