Cat nipping: Understanding and acting

Cat nipping: Understanding and acting

Felines are not naturally driven to chew. Unlike dogs, the behavior is much less common in cats. It is precisely for this reason that many people end up ignoring a cat that bites and end up underestimating the strength of the animal and thinking that it will not hurt. Cat bites can not only occur for many reasons, but they can also cause accidents.

Usually, cats give signs that anticipate the bite and it is important that you learn to recognize them, as well as understand the reasons why the feline has this attitude.

Cat Biting: Top 6 Reasons

Felines are unique animals. This sentence may sound rather cliché, but it’s true. Every cat acts, feels, and expresses itself in a certain way, even if it is from the same breed or litter. We know that, in some cases, the animal’s behaviors are passed from mother to child. But why do cats bite their owners? There are many reasons why. It’s important that you understand the cat’s bite as a way for it to communicate with you.

Here are the most common reasons:


Our kittens can easily be frightened by other animals, people and even noises, such as fireworks and thunder. In this case, it is normal for them to bite anyone who tries to help them. They are not to blame, fear speaks louder! If you are faced with this situation, wait for your kitten to calm down and come to you for comfort. In fearful situations, it’s best to give your pet a place to hide and feel safe.

Confusing stimuli

When we use our hands to play with kittens, we encourage them to bite, even while playing. While humans use their hands and feet to defend themselves and take things, they use their mouths. So when we put our hands in places they don’t like, like their belly, they bite us to defend themselves. The best way to avoid biting is to play with toys.


Cats are very calm animals – and some cats enjoy quiet, peaceful times. Therefore, when exposed to unusual situations, such as visits, vet visits, or just a full bath, they can become very stressed. At such times, felines usually try to escape from their owners’ laps and may also react with kicking and growling.

Since most of the time they are ignored, this leaves only poking to demonstrate discomfort: it’s a way of saying “look, human, this isn’t cool and I want you to stop right now!”. If you know your cat doesn’t like something, the best thing to do is to avoid it or get professional help to teach her to associate a certain situation with something positive.


If your kitten doesn’t usually bite – even in situations of fear, stress, or play – it may be that something is wrong. He may be experiencing pain or other discomfort throughout his body, which could be a skin injury or intestinal discomfort.

Since he is unable to speak, the feline must communicate in some other way, in which case he knows that the bite will get your attention. You should also be aware of other signs that may indicate illness, such as loss of appetite, apathy, and lack of interest in daily activities. If this is the case, seek out a veterinarian and keep the tests up to date.

Jokes and affection

When they are kittens, cats play with each other with bites. This is why it is so important to respect the weaning time of animals, which is usually 60 days, as this is when they learn to socialize and not repeat these behaviors. In some cases, however, our cats may also bite for fun or for love.

Biting can hurt, but it doesn’t, it’s a way of asking for affection! Hands, arms, the area near the armpit, ankles and feet are the most common places: the kitten knows exactly what to do to get your attention. Although cute, it’s not worth rewarding this behaviour, as the cat may increase the force of the bite when she feels frustrated.

Not wanting more affection

While on the one hand cats will bite to ask for affection, in other cases they may bite to signal that this area is not to be touched, such as the belly. Have you tried to identify the areas of the body where your cat likes to be petted? It’s worth the effort to observe and live better with your friend, respecting your boundaries. If your kitten bites you while you are petting her, don’t insist. Let her leave or change position and give her time to seek you out again for this moment of change of affection.

How do you fix this problem?

Here’s how to calm your cat’s temper if he bites too often.

Focus your play energies on the toys, not your hands

When a cat is feeling excited and playful, it may want to chew on hands and feet, but it is important to teach it that only toys can be “chased.” Otherwise, as she gets older, biting them can cause accidents and eventually lead to inadvertent damage.

The next time your pet jumps on your ankles or bites your hands, respond by saying to stay very still, avoid listening to him so he doesn’t think he’s achieved his goal … start the game.

Redirect their attention to a toy (you can throw a ball as soon as you see it coming, to get ahead of his “ambush”) and stop playing for a few minutes.

Redirect them to a scratching post

Scratching is a natural behavior for cats. They all need a scratching post to stretch their claws and mark their territory. In play, your kitten can use her claws to chase and attack – aggression in play is normal! But if she’s practicing on you, you should redirect your cat to her scratching post or toys every time she scratches.

You can tell when your cat is planning to jump and scratch by his body posture – dilated pupils, tail flicking back and forth, and ears flat to the head – these are signs of an impending attack!

Train your cat to use his scratching post Should be another key part of her lessons. Make sure every kitten in your household has access to a scratching post, at least for each one (plus an extra one)! This will keep the claws under control.

Place them near areas where they rest or near one of the boundaries of their territory that they have already marked out.

Remember that they must be stable and tall enough to be supported and stretched.

Stop playing and immediately ignore biting and scratching behaviors

If your cat is overly aggressive and bites or scratches you a lot (when we’re not talking about an accidental bite anymore), make sure you teach your cat that this is not normal.

When this problem occurs, stop playing with your cat immediately. Stay away from your pet and do not reward it.

Walking away from your pet and leaving him alone to calm down without interaction (don’t talk or look at him) for 5-10 minutes is the best way to stop the aggressive play. Do this every time your pet behaves aggressively and it will soon learn that bad behavior will only result in indifference.

Use your voice

Your voice can help you let your pet know how you feel. To stop biting and scratching behavior, use a specific command like “no!” or “ow!” whenever your cat bites you. This sound, combined with ignoring unwanted behavior, can let your cat know that you don’t like it. However, never yell at your cat. Always use a calm tone and never lose your temper. Your pet won’t understand and an angry reaction can make your cat nervous or fearful. In this way, it would even worsen their behaviour.

After a few minutes, when you feel it is time to resume play, continue to use your voice to reward good behavior and calm the game. Always reward good behaviour and slow down whenever your pet is too excited and stubborn in its attack.

Play with him every day

Cat nipping: Understanding and actingRoutine is important for our cats, and daily play sessions of 10-15 minutes two or three times a day can help your cat bond with you, feel relaxed and happy at home, and get rid of excess energy or aggression.

Stop before your feline gets too excited and loses control. You can finish by hiding a few pieces of food for him to look for with his nose.

Teaching your kitten to play calmly is an important part of your journey together, and teaching her not to bite or scratch during play is a key part of that. If you reinforce the good play behaviors and ignore the undesirable ones every day, your pet will soon learn to behave.

Avoid reinforcing unwanted biting and scratching behaviors

While it may be tempting to continue playing with your kitten after she bites or scratches you, listening to her may reinforce that these behaviors seem okay – she may even start biting or scratching you to get more attention. Instead, always stay away and immediately ignore your cat if she displays unwanted behaviour.

Make sure he’s healthy

If he continues to bite or scratch, or if your cat seems unusually aggressive, it’s urgent to check with the vet to make sure your pet doesn’t have a health problem. Pain or illness can cause your cat to become defensive and increase its chances of attacking.

Create a calm environment

A stressed or anxious cat may also be more likely to display behaviors that include biting or scratching. To help him feel calmer, make sure his environment is correct. Make sure you have provided enough resources for each cat (including hiding places, access to food, water, litter boxes and scratching posts).

Special cases

A cat that bites can do so in many situations, here is the answer to the most common problems.

Cat nipping at feet

A cat that chews on feet does so to stimulate itself and sharpen its hunting instinct, if it does so it lacks stimuli. This happens especially in indoor cats and it is necessary to offer him games to occupy himself and channel his energy.

Nose biting cat

A cat that bites your nose does so as a sign of affection and will not normally hurt you unless it is very clumsy.

Cat that bites all the time

Your kitten is venting her energy on you, which is a good sign, but she still needs to learn to stop thinking of you as a vent, and giving her something to chew on will allow her to do so elsewhere.

Cat that chews everything

The kitten has not learned the right behaviours from his mother, otherwise he would not chew everything all the time and he will have to be taught not to do it anymore. This will pass in any case with age.

Cat who bites himself

Be careful, it is likely a health problem that is causing him to chew himself because of the pain. If the behavior is regular, take him to the vet to avoid any risk of complications.

Cat chewing on furniture

This is a result of severe boredom and he spends his time all chewing to keep himself busy and stimulated. Give him a chew toy to stop his behavior.

Cat that chews to play

Cats have their own way of showing you affection and may nip to do so, but gently rebuff him so that he avoids nipping you incessantly.

Cat nipping at the face

There are many reasons for this behavior, if the biting is gentle it is a sign of affection and play but if the biting is quick and deep then it is an attack.

Cat that bites and scratches

Your young cat is learning to master his defense mechanisms and cat, he chose you as a guinea pig and needs to stop doing that.

Ankle-Biting Cat

Again, this is a kind of playful aggression that allows him to learn his animal instincts that he can’t exercise elsewhere.

Cat chewing on objects

If your cat is chewing on anything, it may have a dental problem and should be treated and taken to the vet if necessary.

Cat that bites hands

Your cat wants to play and biting your hands is one way to do it.

Cat that bites when scratched

Scratching your cat triggers his predatory instincts and he bites you back.

Cat that bites then licks

This is a sign of affection, not aggression.

Cat nibbling while purring

Purring coupled with nipping is a pure sign of affection.


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