Ask the Trainer

Ask the Trainer: How Can I Stop my Cat from Biting Me?

playful catDear Jennifer,


I rescued my 6 year old cat from the humane society, one owner before me who apparently got a dog and got rid of the cat. She is declawed x 4 and purrfect in every way. Stays indoors. But she bites me, she uses biting to tell me when she’s had enough brushing, or is frustrated because she wants to play and I can’t for some reason. I have never spanked her nor will I ever. I firmly say NO BITE. What else can I do? I’m on a blood thinner which is why I can’t get scratched or bitten.
Thank you if you answer this.

Dear Christine,

Thank you for rescuing your girl! Older rescued pets make such great companions. Biting is a normal response from a cat that is over stimulated. As you stated in your question she has had enough. For grooming, break it down into short sessions and stopping before the biting begins. Reward her with treats during and after grooming. She will learn to tolerate a little more each time. Always stop before your cat gets over stimulated.

You also stated she bites when she wants to play and you can’t. Make sure you schedule play time every day. Because of your medical history I would highly suggest wand toys such as Da Bird by Go-Cat or Neko Flies. Both will give you the distance to ensure safe interactive play.  It sounds like your cat is an active girl so I would also suggest interactive toys that you can just turn on and walk away for those times that you can’t play. Try the Fling-ama-string or Undercover Panic Mouse.

Food puzzle toys are another great way to keep an active cat occupied! Feeding part or all of your cat’s dry food in such toys at the Kong Wobbler or Petsafe Egg-cer-sizer are just a few of the toys available out there.

A couple of minutes of clicker training each day is another great way to provide your cat with mental stimulation. Cats can be trained too! Clicker training is a great way to have fun as well as teaching your cat useful behaviors.

I am glad to hear that you would never spank your cat. Physically punishment will only cause aggression in a cat. Even though you are not doing anything intentionally mean to your cat, saying “No Bite” to any animal that is already over stimulated can actually increase the undesired behavior. For those times she becomes overstimulated your best response is to simply walk away or redirect her with play.

Thank you for the question!
Jennifer Mauger, CPDT-KSA

Jennifer is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer through the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers and owner of both L’Chaim Canine and L’Chaim Feline.  Her interest in working with cats began after going into homes where, although she was working with the dog, Jennifer saw that the cat was also in need of behavior modification and mental enrichment.  She wanted to be able to advocate for the cats from the point of view of a professional.  For more training tips and tricks,  follow her on Facebook by clicking here.

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