How to Train Your Cat to Not Bite

Medium
2-4 Weeks
Behavior

Introduction

It’s not unusual for a young and rowdy kitten to bite and mouth your hands. Your new furry four-legger is getting to know you and the exciting environment around them. Your young cat may be teething as well and the biting gives a sensation of relief on the teeth and gums.

When occasional biting makes its way to becoming hard and intentional crunches and grips, it is time to teach your playful cat to not bite. In fact, it’s preferable to nip this sometimes annoying habit in the bud before it becomes a problem. Let’s look at 3 effective ways to train your cat to not bite.

Defining Tasks

To know how to approach your cat about biting, it’s important to understand why they bite. What is normal behavior for a cat, anyway? When a kitten or young cat plays with their mom and siblings, they do “bunny-kicks” and bite a lot as a form of play. It’s also how they learn their family rules and dynamics.

During play, a kitten will mimic and learn how to stalk prey, pounce, and grab toys. If a kitten is removed from their feline family at a very young age, they may not learn how to reign in their behavior. This can result in increased biting and harder biting than your cat really intends to do.

And that’s one reason that you may have to train your cat to not bite!

Getting Started

As soon as your get your new cat the training can begin. You’ll need toys, treats, and some patience mixed with kindness. First and foremost, you have to remember that you are teaching your cat not to bite, when biting is an innate behavior. You’ve got to approach it with the right attitude. Keep the training light and don’t take all of the fun out of your cat’s day!

The Teach Boundaries Method

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Step
1
Boundary time
Part of helping your cat to learn to not bite involves teaching them boundaries. After all, they need to learn what proper behavior is. They are not biting hard intentionally, it’s just what they know to do right now.
Step
2
New pet parent
If your cat is a rescue and had previous owners, they may bite because of unwanted action or behaviors. Once your cat gets used to you and how you treat them, their biting habit may fade into to background.
Step
3
Say no
When your cat’s biting starts to get out of hand, clap your hands and say, ‘No’ but in a normal tone of voice so you don’t frighten them. They may bite harder in that case.
Step
4
Say ouch
Another way to teach boundaries is to say, ‘Ouch’ with a clear voice, and remove your hand from the situation.
Step
5
Stop the attention
Stop all play. Because you are removing attention from your cat, they’ll soon catch on that biting is passing a boundary and takes away wanted attention. Walk away so that your cat understands that rough play means the fun is over.
Recommend training method?

The Consistency Method

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Step
1
Consistent message
Make sure that all family members are on board with training your cat to not bite. If some family members let the cat munch on their hand and also scratch, it’s harder to get your ‘no biting’ message across.
Step
2
Consistent rules
Make it a family rule that your cat is not allowed to play with anyone’s hands or fingers. If you offer them as playthings, it will be harder to break the biting habit. Again, remember all family members need to follow the rules.
Step
3
Clothes off-limits
Make your clothing part of the out of bounds area. If your cat pulls on your clothing and you respond, they may treat your clothing like a toy.
Step
4
No punishment
Don’t allow anyone to physically punish your cat. This may cause boundary confusion and your cat could play even more rambunctiously or even fight back.
Recommend training method?

The Game Time Method

Effective
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Step
1
Toys on hand
Have a basket of toys always on hand for your cat. Include string, toys with feathers, and balls that roll and have bells. Anything that is more fun than biting your hand will work. Even balled up pieces of foil or paper (larger than can be swallowed) is perfect.
Step
2
Treat reinforcement
Put a container of treats within reach to encourage your cat when they display the correct behavior. The treats can work well with any of the methods. Once the biting stops, reinforce the calmness with a treat.
Step
3
Redirect the teeth
Redirect your cat’s sharp teeth from your hand to the toy. Engage them in chasing a string or following a laser light on the wall. Age-appropriate toys are great. If your feline friend is a kitten, textured teething toys may provide the soothing sensation your cat seeks. If your cat is proving to be prey oriented, encourage them to follow a plastic mouse that you drag around the room on a string!
Step
4
No playtime
Again, if your kitten tries to bite you despite the toys, walk away, and signal playtime is over. On the other hand, if your cat stops the biting and plays with the toy instead, offer a tasty cat treat to reinforce the good behavior.
Step
5
Playmate time
Consider getting your kitten a playmate. Then you can watch the biting and roughhousing as part of natural play, instead of being a victim of it!
Recommend training method?
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Written by Darlene Stott

Published: 01/26/2021, edited: 01/26/2021

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