If you don’t want your cat to bite you when he’s upset, then don’t teach him that biting a human during playtime is an ok thing to do. Be consistent in your messaging. If your cat has grasped your hand with his teeth and won’t let go, don’t pull away from him because that’s what prey does. Pulling away will trigger the cat to bite down even more. Instead, gently push toward the cat to momentarily confuse him and this will cause him to loosen his hold. When he does let go, either stop all play motion and ignore the cat for a few moments or move away from him completely.
The lesson you want to get across is that biting or scratching you will result in an immediate end to the game. Shutterstock Provide more overall environmental enrichment. Part of the reason your cat may be engaging in play aggression might be due to a boring environment. While it’s much safer for cats to be kept indoors, the problem is it can be easy for them to get bored when cat parents haven’t created opportunities for discovery and stimulation. Provide a cat tree and window perches so your cat can look at the birds outdoors. If you have a multicat household, the more elevated areas you provide, the better. When you increase vertical territory it can help maintain peace and it will appear to the cats as if their territory has increased.
Vertical territory also creates opportunities for climbing, jumping and playing. In addition to vertical territory, tweak the environment by adding tunnels for hiding, napping and playing. Cats love to check out enclosures and a soft-sided cat tunnel or even some open paper bags and boxes will enable your kitty to go exploring. Satisfy some of your cat’s playtime desire by using puzzle feeders. Food enrichment toys provide a little bonus playtime with a food reward for a job well done. This is a totally natural concept for a hunter. If your cat eats too quickly, puzzle feeders can also encourage a healthier eating pace.
You can make homemade puzzle feeders or you can purchase them. Some are made for dry food and some for wet. When cats are playing together and you suspect things are starting to get out of hand, distract them with something positive such as tossing a little toy nearby or rolling a ping pong ball across the floor. Food enrichment on the menu. Puzzle feeders are a wonderful way to distract cats from each other. When you have more than one cat, just make sure you have set up several puzzle feeders so there’s more than enough for everyone.
Is it just rough play? Keep in mind that sometimes what appears to be fighting between cats may actually just be normal play. An aggressive display usually involves vocalizations such as growling or hissing and facial expressions will look aggressive with ears flattened back. We sometimes make the mistake of labeling normal rough play as aggression. If you’re in doubt, don’t yell at the cats to separate them but instead, toss a toy or two as a fun distraction. Pam’s books are available at book stores, through your favorite online book retailer and also through our website.
If you have questions or concerns about any aggressive behavior being displayed by your cat, please contact your veterinarian to rule out any underlying medical causes. Please note that Pam is unable to answer questions posted in the comment section. If you have a question about your cat’s behavior, you can find information in the articles on our website as well as in Pam’s books. If you have a question regarding your cat’s health, please contact your veterinarian. Powered by Slider Revolution 5. This is when playful bites, scratches and ambushes become more serious and can actually cause injury.
It’s something cat parents tend to notice more when the aggression is directed toward them, usually in the form of ankle attacks, ambushes or biting and scratching that break the skin. As most everyone knows, cats are hunters and that instinct kicks in at a very young age as kittens play by stalking, chasing and pouncing each other. Although rough play and miscommunication may happen as kittens play with each other, this is an important time of learning. This time spent together helps them develop healthy play skills as they take turns being the mock aggressor and learn to control the intensity of biting, scratching and wrestling. During play with littermates, kittens learn to keep their claws sheathed and not inflict injury. Kitten play also teaches necessary skills needed for survival and hunting as adult cats. Kittens who had the benefit of being raised around littermates, learn these valuable lessons in order to keep the activity well within friendly play mode. Kittens who are orphaned or taken away from their littermates too early, miss important social lessons and may then develop play habits that include more aggressive biting and scratching. Kittens who don’t receive adequate socialization, are played with improperly and roughly by humans, or not given appropriate objects or opportunities for play may also develop play aggression behavior.