Petting Aggression in Cats: Biting the Hand They Love

petting-aggression-cats

Guest post by Harry Shubin

This stuff always seems to come in clusters. This post  wasn’t going to be about petting aggression, not even after I spent some time counseling the first foster about why his cat was biting him. This post wasn’t going to be about petting aggression, even after I spent more time counseling the second foster. This post wasn’t going to be about petting aggression, even after I worked with the adopter, having the same issue. It finally took Jackson Galaxy’s My Cat From Hell on Animal Planet doing an episode where every cat bit his or her person, for me to see the, ah, cat scratches on the wall. Or bites on my arm.

How does petting aggression happen?

Let’s start with full disclosure – I have a cat with “petting aggression.” “Aggression” isn’t really the right word, though that’s what it’s generally called. It’s not really aggressive – nor is it mean, nor is the intent to actually hurt someone.

Most people know how sensitive a cat’s whiskers are, and wouldn’t be rough with that spot on their faces. What people don’t realize is that while the muzzle contains the greatest number of whiskers, cats actually have them all over their bodies, on their paws, head, back… They’re smaller and finer, so not as easily seen, but if you look closely, they’re there.

Just as some people aren’t ticklish, some cats aren’t particularly sensitive about their whiskers, or about being touched. For some cats, however, their whiskers are ultra sensitive, and not just on their faces but everywhere. Imagine that you were incredibly ticklish, and that someone – for the sake of argument, someone you even liked a lot – wouldn’t stop tickling you. You’d be screaming “stop, stop,” right? Well, imagine now that you only spoke Urdu, but your tickler spoke only French. And because he didn’t understand, he wouldn’t stop. Eventually, what would you do – if he weighed 10 times what you did and you couldn’t get away? Right. You’d bite him, or hit him.

Those not-very-ticklish cats, they’re the exception. Those are the ones you can roll over and give belly rubs to. I have one of those, also. He’s a limp dishrag when you handle him, and he loves it. The extremely ticklish cats, they’re the exception, too. Most cats fall somewhere in the middle. The ones that exhibit petting aggression – they’re usually the friendly ones, the ones that seek out petting. And it’s not surprising that fosters and owners are surprised when the affectionate cat suddenly snaps and takes a bite out of the hand they love…

One of the intriguing things about cats is that they’re not dogs. You can pet a dog, all day, and he’ll only bite you if you stop. Cats… the sensitive ones… have a threshold. And, you have to understand how they tick, if you’re going to change their behavior. Dogs, they’ll modify their behavior because they want to please you. Cats, on the other hand, to change their behaviors, you have to convince them that they want to change. And that’s another difference between the species – discipline that works on a dog – is the wrong approach for a cat.

Understanding how cats communicate

Before we talk about changing feline biting behavior, though, you need a little Urdu to French translation. When a cat becomes overstimulated from petting, she is actually telling you that she’s had enough – if you speak her language.

The most obvious sign is the tail. Dogs beat their tails back and forth when they’re happy. Cats give a slow flick of just the tip of the tail. When the whole tail becomes involved, swishing back and forth – that’s a warning. Also, watch the eyes, A calm, relaxed cat’s pupils will be narrow. When they dilate, the stimulation tank is full. Watch also the fur along the back and the back of the head. If a ridge stands up – or her skin ripples – the cat is also telling you, in cat-speak, she’s done. It’s like someone one time said to me after watching the Amityville Horror – you know, when your house tells you “get out…” Get Out! When the cat tells you she’s done – leave her be. If she’s on your lap, stop touching her.

When you do touch her, concentrate on her head, the sides of her face, and the back of her neck. Stay away from full body petting – you may get there eventually, but don’t try it in the beginning. Many cats get more sensitive toward their tails – you may have seen a cat who would stick his rump in the air if you petted him at the base of the tail – that’s a high stimulation spot. Also, the closer you are to the back of the head, the harder it is to whip around and bite you.

Correcting petting aggression

Now, that’s behavior modification for you – but I know that you want to change her behavior, too. It can be done.

Now that you know what to watch for, end the petting sessions before she’s had enough. Send her to the floor – but don’t touch her because she’s building up to a snap. Gently, slowly stand up and she’ll leap down. Then, give her a treat. If she does go too far and bite or swat, put her on the floor – again, by gently standing up. Don’t push her with your hands, and totally ignore her. Don’t push her off, don’t scold, don’t make eye contact, just totally shun her. Especially, don’t use a spray bottle, don’t tap her nose. Those techniques may work to discourage other behaviors, but retraining aggression with aggression is doomed to fail. You’re speaking French again, not Urdu, when you do that.

Don’t be surprised if she wants right back up fairly soon – cats recover quickly, and the petting aggressive ones seem to be the ones that want the contact to begin with. Let her back up and start over. At first, she won’t quite know what she did wrong – but she will quickly make the association between biting, and a “time out.” You may be able to help establish a calming atmosphere which will increase her tolerance by using a pheremone spray such as Feliway, or a flower essence such as Spirit Essences. Try spraying on a small blanket or towel, on your lap.

The last thing to consider is to embrace what the cat brings to you. She’ll sit with you, she’s affectionate – she just isn’t a cat that can be held, or excessively petted. The house is telling you, “get out” — don’t hold her.

I have a cat with petting aggression – but I haven’t been bitten in a long time. Working with the cat, understanding the cat – goes a long way toward producing desirable behaviors.

Harry Shubin is the newsletter editor for the Feline Foundation of Greater Washington. Harry’s entire family is involved in cat rescue: daughter Rachel writes the blog We Have a Situation, where she shares stories of her cat-related life.

285 Comments on Petting Aggression in Cats: Biting the Hand They Love

  1. Mallory
    April 6, 2018 at 12:10 pm (2 weeks ago)

    I have a four year old female cat, calico tortoise shell and she is very generally loving and follows me everywhere for affection. She very occasionally gets upset if I pet her too much but that’s not really what the problem is. When she gets aggressive with me she MEANS it it’s very clearly not play but I have never found a consistent reason for her triggers. We have a sort of tradition where she jumps up onto my shoulders and wraps herself around my neck. She will purr and nudge my head and loves it when I carry her around the house. Today she did it when I was sitting in my bed on my computer and she out of the blue was purring into my neck, drew her head back and sunk her teeth into my neck. She did not draw blood as I shook her off immediately when I felt her body tense up. I am not sure if it’s because she felt I was not paying attention to her? She is very possessive and when she will knead on me she will try to bit my arm or shoulder not hard but hold it there- I feel like it’s a dominating gesture for a female? What do you think? Does anyone else have a SUPER loving cat always in your face and then these specific instances she seems SO happy and turns to bite. I usually don’t feel like she means it but today was quite aggressive 🙁 bums me out.

    Reply
  2. Clarie
    March 5, 2018 at 11:50 pm (1 month ago)

    So I have been wondering a few things about my cat, she is about 2 years old and not fixed, she really only likes me and is kind to me she seems to scratch or “attack” others really for no reason. I was wondering why she does that as well as why she seems to only be nice to me never attacks me always lays on me and comes to me when I call her name she honestly is a sweetheart with a mean side, the only time she ever gives me a warning meow is when she is on my lap and I get up to move and she gets really upset, she does not attack me but she will act like she will and will touch me but does not have her claws out, but with others if she is sitting near them and they get up to leave and it messes with where she is laying or if she is on them and they get up to move she attacks them and hisses. What is causing that behavior as well as the one I mentioned in the beginning of this.

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      March 6, 2018 at 6:23 am (1 month ago)

      I’m not sure what causes the behavior, but if you watch her closely, you’ll probably see signs when she’s about to lash out. Try to distract her with a toy before she does. Do the same thing when others are around, since it sounds like she’s pretty consistent in her behavior with others. You may also want to post this question for our cat behaviorist here: https://consciouscat.net/2018/02/21/ask-the-cat-behaviorist-february-2018/ Mikel may have more insight into this behavior than I do.

      Reply
  3. Ying
    February 28, 2018 at 2:10 pm (2 months ago)

    Is this considered petting aggression? One of my cats loves to lay against me in bed and wants to be petted. Sometimes she will suddenly turn and grab my hand with her 4 paws with claws sheathed and sort of nip at my hand. It’s never painful as it never breaks the skin and it seems like there’s no intention to actually hurt me. There’s no warning sign either as she just likes to just lay completely still against me (I checked the list in the post and she doesn’t exhibit any of those signs). Anyone know what this behavior means?

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      February 28, 2018 at 4:05 pm (2 months ago)

      Yes, that is petting aggression. I’d use the tips provided in the article to discourage and redirect it. Have a toy handy, and as soon as she turns toward you, distract her with the toy.

      Reply
  4. Erika
    February 19, 2018 at 2:29 pm (2 months ago)

    I have a male kitten I found back in August as a newborn. As he has gotten bigger his behaviors have changed, his playful bites are hard and painful. He climbs on my arms while I’m sleeping wrapping himself around my forearm and bites my wrist or back of hand pulling and twisting the skin. When I reach for him with my other hand he wails, lets go, and jumps down from the bed. I’ve started keeping limbs under the covers and he actually tricked me into freeing one just so he could bite me by purring and rubbing against me I thought he was trying to get comfortable in the space between my neck and armpit he shifted around so much I thought he wanted his old sleeping spot and before I knew it he snatched up my hand a.d bit down. It also is unproductive to lock him out of the room at night. He simply scratched and cries to come in.

    Reply
    • Helen
      February 25, 2018 at 8:06 pm (2 months ago)

      Sounds like he might want to snuggle up with you but not be petted. My cat is similar. He’ll snuggle up, but if I try to pet, he bites.

      Reply
  5. Nicholas Price
    January 15, 2018 at 3:00 am (3 months ago)

    Cats seem similar to raising a teenager – no experience doing – as behaviour is temperamental and sometimes baffling. I have a lovely girl feline, but tips on websites often mention a lot of ways to curb behaviour, but getting cat to do this is frustrating as all cats are different.
    Anyway, she is lovely, apart from some biting and scratching if I stroke her tummy below halfway line.
    Had dogs when growing up and they were a lot easier to deal with. Not all dogs, though, as parents current dog has epilepsy, still has fits and is on lot of medication. He is also incredibly needy and.nervous, which I believe is a symptom of the epilepsy.

    Cheers nick

    Reply
  6. Felice
    December 9, 2017 at 11:02 am (4 months ago)

    I know that this article was published a little while ago. But my younger brother finds kittens in his area all the time. He usually takes them to the shelter. Well, he decided to keep one and raise it. My brother is in the military so he is barley ever home. Well, I decided to take the little slugger in since my daughter fell in love with the cat, I am guessing that this particular kitten is about 2-4 months old. Well we have had the cat for about a month now, and she bites and scratches anything and everything. I have gotten a small cat tree and many toys for her to play with. My daughter and I try to have 30-45 min of play after school/work everyday but it barley gets past 5 min before she is biting one of us. You try to pet her and she bites, you try to sit on the couch she gets up and looks innocent and lays there with you and she bites. She has already scratched through my couch and all the molding on the walks and you cannot leave anything (coats, shoes, etc) at her level because she will try to tear them apart or bites through your shoes. I really do not want to take the kitten to the shelter but my daughter is terrified of her and refuses to go near her. But I am at my wits end. What can I do?

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      December 9, 2017 at 11:28 am (4 months ago)

      You may want to try to increase the number of play sessions with her to two or three a day to help her burn off more energy. You may also want to consider getting a companion for your kitten. Kittens tend to do better with a companion the same age, because, as you’re finding out, it’s pretty hard to keep up with kitten energy for humans. You may also want to consider working with a feline behaviorist. If you can’t find anyone local to you, I can recommend Mikel Delgado http://www.felineminds.com/ and Daniel Quagliozzi https://gocatgosf.com/ Both offer remote consultations.

      Reply
    • Charles
      December 16, 2017 at 3:46 pm (4 months ago)

      You seem to have quite normal kitten that is starving for play and attention. I agree with the below comment that a playmate would do wonders. cats play very rough with one another and thru this play, learn to temper their biting and scratching. To her, you are another playmate.
      What I have done to help temper rough play is to halt all movement as the animal latches on. Followed by my own cat-like crying. this seems to be similar to what cats and kittens themselves do when they are being played with too roughly by their mates.
      Good luck…it sounds like you have chance to be adopted by a great kitty.

      Reply
      • Ingrid
        December 17, 2017 at 6:01 am (4 months ago)

        Your approach using cat-like crying can work with some cats, but it can also backfire and cause extreme aggression.

        Reply
  7. Erin
    November 29, 2017 at 5:23 pm (5 months ago)

    My cat is usually very sweet, I’ve only had him about 6 months and I noticed fairly quickly that he bites when he’s getting pet. I usually pet him until he turns his head to bite me then I stop, but the other night he was sitting on my chest while I was sleeping and he kept biting me in different places even though I wasn’t touching him. After the fourth bite, he bit me on the cheek and I reacted by throwing him off of me (not the best move I know). How can I prevent this in the future? I have like mini PTSD and I can’t sleep anymore when my other cat tries to cuddle with me.

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      November 30, 2017 at 5:55 am (5 months ago)

      That sounds like extreme attention getting behavior, Erin. Try structured playtime with him to help him burn off excess energy. Two or three session a day, 10-15 minutes each. Really get him tired out. Make the last session just before you go to bed.

      Reply
    • Charles
      December 16, 2017 at 3:52 pm (4 months ago)

      Note the type of bite the Kit is giving you. Is it a vicious bite…or a special love nip? The latter is your Kit bonding and showing love.
      There are some rare cats that seem to be a bit autistic. And altho they love you clearly…they will lash out incredibly viciously with a severe bite and deep scratch. I have one. It has taken years of modified interaction to civilize her. The drawbacks to adopting ferals are always tho outweighed by their returned love.

      Reply
      • Debbie Starks
        February 1, 2018 at 9:15 pm (3 months ago)

        Thank for that one for I think I have one that is Bipolar! I have been working with this drop off cat n got him fixed. He stays outdoor. But he has slashed n wrap his front paw on me n I bled like a stuck pig. Didn’t give up n wks later still trying spend time with him each day. However, tonight when I turned on porch light, I talked n greeted him n pet him once on the head n turned around to pet him with my other hand n wham! I have a low immune system so I have to be careful. It may be time for this cat to go for I have 4 more n 2 r outdoor n 2 indoor they don’t like him.

        Reply
        • Deb Starks
          February 20, 2018 at 9:06 am (2 months ago)

          Just update on Marble. He is getting much better on his behavior. Been trying to spend time with him inside n outside the house by playing with a pole n a string-ribbon. It helps get a lot of hyperness he had n sometimes u can see the kitty in him when he plays. Still cautious with the petting but he is talking to us now. 🙂

          Reply
  8. Dino Frangos
    November 16, 2017 at 8:03 am (5 months ago)

    We have a fully grown cat (had him for just over a year now. He was obtained through the local cattery and originally, the cat was a stray cat) and he is always biting and scratching when we pet him (not enough to draw blood however, he can really dig his claws in sometimes so you have to watch how you withdraw your hand away otherwise it will draw blood!).

    He’s not a very affectionate cat, he does his own thing and is 100% not a ‘lap’ cat (he’ll jump off within 30 seconds of putting him on your lap). He’ll even bite and scratch when you go to stroke him on his body for the first time on any given day (so in the morning, when I go downstairs to feed him, before he follows me down the stairs, he’ll be lying on the landing upstairs. If I go to stroke him before we go down, he’ll take one or two strokes before biting my fist and going for my hand with his claws, all the while whilst still purring loudly?!?). He’s been like this since the day we got him…..!

    Reply
    • Dario
      December 9, 2017 at 5:14 am (4 months ago)

      I’m pretty sure your cat is doing that because he doesn’t know when to unsheathed and sheath his claws which at a young age usually the Mom cat teachers her young ones. Best thing to do is to trim your cats nails professionally and contact a cat trainer or a vet behavioralist.

      Reply
  9. Joze
    November 16, 2017 at 6:54 am (5 months ago)

    My cat just came up for a pat. Put his face to my hand. I pet her head twice then she bit me hard while simultaneously scratching me and ran off. No time for tell signs.

    Reply
  10. Lynette
    October 28, 2017 at 8:44 pm (6 months ago)

    I do foster care for cats and the new one perplexes me. He is a hug flufft 10 year old cats. Had been an indoor neutored cat, but owner had started forcing him outside. He was part of a largs cat population. He loves to be petted then attacks the petter and draws blood. One bite sent me go the doctors. I have him isolated and safe. Not sure if we can salvage him. Any suggestions?

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      October 29, 2017 at 5:22 am (6 months ago)

      Since you don’t know his history, it’s hard to tell what’s causing the aggression. My guess is that he was pretty traumatized by being forced outside and having to live with a lot of other cats. You may want to consider working with a feline behaviorist.

      Reply
    • Kristin
      October 29, 2017 at 6:51 am (6 months ago)

      Lynette…First off, THANK YOU for being a foster mom to senior cats. We have adopted seniors and like you – we know some but not all of what they have been through in their lives. Imagine that, being forced outside and be part of a cat “population”. I too had to go to an urgent care with a bad cat bite from our rescue. We followed the suggestions in this original article…so helpful. After we both got bit (not nipped, BIT) we shifted to a small amount of hand petting (pet pet pet, that’s all you get) each visit into her space, then built it up over time. If she wanted more love…we used a brush and were ever mindful of her clues – and where our hands were. We kept her in a bedroom with frequent human visits for two months (we figured compared to her cage at the rescue – it was heavenly…bed, window seat, fleece blankets, toys, visits, Feliway) then introduced her to the house and our other cat. It has taken her some time to build up trust…but now she is a lover and quite settled in. It’s worth the effort and time. You’re doing something not many folks do. So many want to foster or rescue kittens. So again, I thank you…keep up the good work.

      Ingrid – do you know if Harry Shubin reads these?….I know you do. Maybe he could do a followup. There seems to be so much need!

      Reply
  11. Jane
    October 16, 2017 at 7:36 am (6 months ago)

    I know this is an old post but just came across it today and thought it might shed some insight. My 3 year old female cat bites me. It is never aggressive or violent and she never draws blood but it is becoming very frequent. The type of biting is exactly the same as this article with one very glaring difference- im not petting her when she bites. Clear example; the other morning my partner and I were lying in bed having a well earned lie in. We were both semi sitting up watching TV. I was lying with my head on his shoulder and arm across his chest. Our cat came and sat on him and sat with her bottom towards his legs and head towards his chest. He didn’t stroke her and neither did i because we were eating breakfast at the time. She sat there for 5 minutes then just bit my arm that was across his chest. No petting involved. She then just went to sleep. My boyfriend sat up causing her to slip down the bed and jump off. What can i do to prevent this? This is a common occurrence of me not touching her but her being close to me then just nipping at random. Another example was when I was working at my desk. She came and sat on the bookcase next to my desk and without warning or any physical contact lent over and nipped my elbow. I’m not touching her she’s getting closer to me then biting me. Any ideas how i can discourage this or what i might be doing that aggravating her?

    Reply
      • Kristin
        October 29, 2017 at 6:52 am (6 months ago)

        Oooo….that’s a great idea! I look forward to reading Mike’s responses!

        Reply
    • Tina
      November 1, 2017 at 12:57 pm (6 months ago)

      Hi Jane, your cat is probably nipping to get your attention! Biting from being over stimulated carries very different intentions, and usually it’s more apparent when that is the case. The bites from over stimulated cats tends to be more intense vs. a little love nip. Nips are usually to get your attention or ask for pets or even just a little hello. You can try ignoring the nipping to see if she stops/looks for other ways to get your attention. But really it’s the fact that she comes to you and closes the distance that makes me think she just wants attention. My cat also nips me, but she’s also an oddball because I’ll pet her a little and then she’ll nip me to tell me to keep petting her. How do I know she wants more attention? Proximity mostly. She gets in my face and nudges at my hand and headbutts me. It’s just about learning their individual signs.

      Reply
  12. Cassy
    October 15, 2017 at 10:54 pm (6 months ago)

    My cat has been the sweetest most loving and affectionate cat in the world . She is almost 3 . The last year she has progressively been getting more “petting aggression” it never draws blood and at first I thought she was play biting cause it didn’t hurt.. she always wants attention and we give her so much. But the last 2 or so weeks she started to swat at my husband as he walks by .. so he will pet her and she will our and be happy. But she has begun to be more aggressive with him when he doesn’t give her attention (he works at home a lot so he can’t spend the whole day petting her) I do spend more time with her when I am home but she gives us almost equal snuggles. She has swat at me once or twice when I walk by but usually him. I don’t like that she is being so demanding with her attention and I am worried her swats and aggression will get worse. She is sooo sweet and loving it just don’t want her to be mean.. I always thought she was just a bit moody but I came across this article and she is the perfect time definition.

    Reply
  13. Wanda Tucker
    September 21, 2017 at 12:48 pm (7 months ago)

    What a great site! I have an old (17 years) orang, male cat and for the past several years he does this biting thing, seemingly randomly, while I pet only his head. So, this article is helpful. However, I genuinely believe my cat just has a bad, mean attitude. He frequently hisses and will sometimes reach out and scratch me or anyone else, simply for walking past him. He will also walk in front of you and stop, daring you to try to get by him. He does this to my dog, too and was very mean to my lab who recently passed. He would just go up to her and swat her nose and my lab never, ever showed any sign of aggression. Back to Cecil the cat from hell…when I need him to move, he ALWAYS will bite, drawing blood, usually holding the bite to make it hurt me more. I frequently am bruised as well. His attacks are quite violent. So, to get him to move off the bed or couch where he knows I sit – it’s my spot and that’s where he’ll go as if to taunt me to dare him to move – I’ll have to get a pillow and gently bring it up to him, coaxing him in the direction I want him to go. He wasn’t always mean. Just since he got old. I also have little grandkids over about once a week and am terrified he will seriously hurt him. I love him, but hate him, also. Ready to put him down. He also pisses on beds, rugs and has costs me thousands of dollars in replacing items. I detest his behavior but there is one person in the family who doesn’t want me to put him down. Any suggestions? Thanks. I’m t wits end.

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      September 21, 2017 at 3:55 pm (7 months ago)

      I doubt that your cat is mean, Wanda. From the cat’s perspective, there’s always a reason for behavioral issues, it can just be extremely challenging to figure out, and it sounds like you’ve been through a lot with him. Since you mention that he only started doing these things since “he got old,” I’m concerned that there is a medical reason for his behavior. He may be in pain, and he’s lashing out because it’s the only way he knows how to cope. Has he been checked out by your vet to rule out any medical issues since this behavior started? If not, I’d take him to a vet as soon as you can. I would also urge you to consider working with a feline behaviorist. If you can’t find anyone local to you, I can recommend Mikel Delgado http://www.felineminds.com/ and Daniel Quagliozzi https://gocatgosf.com/ Both offer remote consultations.

      All my best,
      Ingrid.

      Reply
  14. Cassie
    September 19, 2017 at 10:30 pm (7 months ago)

    Thank you!!! This is amazing, it describes my cat. He’s super loving with me and will actively seek out attention. However, when he does bite during a petting session he kind of latches on and bites. Like not a nip or anything, full on bite, find a new spot do it again. I’ve noticed he does this mainly when I try to pet him on his head with the palm of my hand kind of on top of him. Or when he lays down and shows me his belly during a pet session. It hasn’t happened often but it does hurt (thankfully no blood). Not sure if it’s really this petting aggression or if he’s trying to “play” as my dad will play with him with his hands.

    Reply
  15. Lena
    August 16, 2017 at 5:14 pm (8 months ago)

    Hi, I’ve thankfully just found your website and this article is completely spot on about my 2 year old female cat. I had started to read the signs myself but couldn’t understand why she was biting until I read your article and now it all falls into place, particularly as she hates the brush and behaves exactly as you have described when petting. She is very unpredictable in that the length of petting can vary immensely from a few seconds to quite a long session before an attempted bite. I am quite good about moving my hand in time but she recently attacked my mother (after petting) and my mother needed hospital treatment as a result. I also have two young children and am worried about them being bitten as they cannot read the signs as well as I can. I have recently started considering re-homing the cat after the bite on my mother but before doing so – as we are very attached to her – in an attempt to bring out her maternal side, we have just bought a ragdoll/persian mix who is the complete opposite and loves to be petted. I introduced them very slowly and carefully and now my 2 year old has become less interested in human interaction but, my new concern is that her ‘playful’ biting with the kitten is now also teaching the kitten that biting is OK. When they are playing the kitten is clearly being bitten and occasionally squealing but, she is the one seeking attention from the 2 year old and going back for more! I break them up and separate them in different rooms when it gets noisy though there hasn’t been any hissing since their very early interactions which were chaperoned closely. My cat also loves licking the kitten so I can’t tell if this is just rough play or she is genuinely harming the kitten when she bites her. However, the last thing I want is for the kitten to learn that biting is OK. Up until now the kitten has been more than happy being petted and has never bitten when being petted but she has bitten (gently) when we have picked her up during a ‘play’ session. Your advice would be greatly appreciated!

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      August 17, 2017 at 5:24 am (8 months ago)

      Some rough play between cats is normal – the way to be able to tell is to watch for other signs: are their tails up in the air when they chase, are their ears straight up instead of flat against the head? I doubt that the rough play will teach your kitten to learn that biting is okay – if anything, it will teach the kitten that biting hurts and is not a good thing to do.

      While the play between the cats is a great way for both cats to burn off excess energy, I would also try structured play therapy for both cats. Play with them two or three times a day, 10 to 15 minutes each. Use interactive wand toys, and really get them tired out. This will also help them discharge energy.

      Reply

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