How To Stop Cats & Kittens From Biting People

By Sarah Jeanne Terry
Cute kitten chewing on a finger
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You've probably had the feeling. You're snuggling with your kitty, maybe playing a little, when suddenly OUCH! Your cat's adorable little face turns into a scary, biting one. Nobody wants a pet that bites, so it's important to do everything you can to nip this behavior in the bud early by training your cat not to bite. That's why we've prepared this list of simple steps to stop your cat from biting people.

Before you start any training, go to the vet to make sure your cat doesn't have a medical problem.

aggressive ginger cat
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You can waste a lot of time and energy trying to solve a problem in the wrong way. So if your cat has a biting problem, your first move should be to take your pet to the vet for evaluation. Various illnesses and medical issues can cause pain and make your cat irritable, which can lead to biting. If you get the all-clear from your vet, then we have a few simple steps that can help break that painful habit.

Step 1: Understand why your cat is biting you.

snarling cat
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It's tough to stop the behavior if you don't understand it. Cats and kittens bite instinctively, but usually their mother and litter mates teach cats how to play nicely. They bite and claw one another, but when play gets too rough, someone cries out. However, if your kitty never learned how much play was too rough, they might not know when to stop. So you'll have to teach them.

Biting can also be the response to fear. If your cat saw or heard something that frightened them. Also, some declawed cats bite because they don't have their claws. Understanding why your cat might be biting can help determine the best way to prevent it.

Step 2: Teach your cat how rough is too rough with simulated playtime.

Three Colored Kitten Lying on The Belly of a Black
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One of the most effective ways to teach your cat not to bite is by following what their cat family does — practice play fighting. Start playing with your cat and gradually increase the intensity and excitement of the playtime. The idea is to teach your cat to enjoy playtime, but also to recognize when playtime becomes too much.

Step 3: Stop playing when you sense your cat might be getting too excited.

Girl enjoying summer
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Signs that your cat might be getting too excited include flattening ears, exposing their claws, or baring their teeth. When this happens, try to calm the play down a bit. You can also "play dead" by going stiff and not talking, which usually helps signal to your cat that it's time to calm down.

Step 4: If your cat bites or claws you, stop play immediately and ignore your cat.

Cute Maine Coon cat being scolded on teenage girl's bed
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If you're playing with your cat or kitten and you feel a bite, shout, "Ouch" loudly, get up, and ignore your cat. Because it loves to play, especially if it's still a kitten, stopped playtime sends a strong signal. Soon, your cat will learn that biting means no more playtime, so it will learn not to bite.

This technique can work in non-play situations as well. If your cat bites to get your attention, yelp loudly and don't give them the attention they want. Similarly, they will learn that biting never gets them what they want.

Step 5: Add toys into your playtime.

Kitten playing with ball and feathers
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Your cat is a natural predator, so you need to let it use those instincts. Using toys that tap into that instinct will help discourage its need to bite other things. Play with a string chase toy can encourage your cat to pounce on and bite the right things, which will keep them from biting the wrong ones.

Step 6: Let your cat come to you.

man stroking a small kitten
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Your cat also might bite you when it doesn't want to be touched. If you notice this behavior, try to wait to pet your cat until you cat comes to you. That will help eliminate your cat's negative associations with petting, and it will keep them from biting to convey their messages.

With these simple steps, you should soon have a cat that doesn't bite people. And remember, consistency is key. Your cat might take longer to learn than you'd like, but they need your support the entire time. The more consistent you can be, the sooner your cat will learn what you want it to do. And the happier (and more bite-free) everyone will be!

Are you interested in learning more about what you're reading? Then scroll through this article about what it means when your pet doesn't remember you. Also, like us on Facebook and join our newsletter to learn more about your pet's behavior.