What is normal?
All cats bite. Nipping and play
Nipping starts when
kittens explore the world with
their mouths and
teeth. However, nips may also
occur out of fear or a desire to
initiate play. Young kittens may
nip during play or play
solicitation (asking for play by
your cat or cause fear or pain
during play sessions to prevent
your cat learning to bite
from fear or anger.
learn early how to hunt,
fight, play and escape danger.
By five months of age, kittens
practice rough play with each
nature, kittens play in order to
exercise and build muscle,
nervous system, and respiratory
organs. Therefore, the goal is
to teach appropriate play not to
stop play altogether.
angry or scared cat grabs hold with the front
claws. A scared cat may bite and
run to hide. An angry or highly
aroused cat will bite and
scratch with front and back
claws and bite continuously
until the human retreats.
Why is is important to teach
gentle play behaviors?
has been estimated that cat
bites are 10% of all reported
animal bites. Many cat bites go
unreported. People tend to
forget that domestic cats are
animals that need instruction on
how to be gentle with humans.
House cats may not be as big as
wild cats but they
have five weapons they deploy
Allowing your kitten to play
bite or scratch your hands or
legs may lead to aggressive
adult cat play.
What to do
with your adult cat
daily for at least 15 minutes
to allow natural
behaviors, healthy exercise and
quality time with you. Keep play
interesting by varying the game
and toy every few minutes and
allowing your cat to win by
pouncing on the object. Toss in
an occasional treat to make the
win more like a successful hunt.
Your goal is a tired, panting
Do not accidentally teach
your cat that nipping is an effective way to start play.
play rough as this may accidentally teach your cat to
If it escalates to rough play. Leave and allow the cat to cool off.
loudly like a cat in pain to startle your cat if cat teeth touch human
skin. Wait for your cat to
back off of your hand before slowly pulling
your hand away. Stop play and turn your back
on your cat for the count of 10. Then, extend a
finger for a gentle make-up sniff. Praise this gentle behavior.
your cat bites at your ankles, then walk away.
Keep a water pistol handy
if this has become a bad habit. Redirect cat attacks on humans to
toys for as play outlets for normal cat behaviors. Keep play real. Move
feather toys like birds, laser lights like bugs, strings like mouse
Your cat needs daily interactive
play sessions for healthy
physical and mental development
and aging. Buy or make a variety
of prey-play type toys. Praise
all appropriate play directed to
toys not you.
17 weeks to 1 year
Sexual maturity if not
altered; spraying and
fighting to protect
If allowed outdoors, may
wander farther away from
Keep a break-away collar
with an identification tag
on at all times.
Consider a microchip -
permanent identification -
to avoid losing your kitten
AAFP. (2004). Feline Behavior Guidelines. Pg. 10.