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Why Cats May Bite and Scratch

Updated on August 10, 2009

That small kitten armed with small teeth and tiny claws may appear to be cute when she plays with your fingers or chases your feet, but a few pounds later, those teeth and claws may do substantial damage if the kitten is not disciplined early enough. The best way to deal with this is by using preventive measures, as the saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. So the number one rule in raising a kitten should be: never allow it to play with your hands and feet!

Cats should see the owner's hands as the ultimate source of care. They should see the owner's hands as the source of food and comfort. As tempting as it is, refrain from using your hands and fingers as toys and entertainment for your cat. Try as well, not to allow your kitten to play with your legs or feet in bed. This will ultimately teach your cat to respect you and not see your feet or hands as entertaining toy substitutes. Invest instead in great toys and redirect your cat's attention towards the toys when you notice she is trying to chase your feet or play with your finger.

Indeed, one of the most common causes of cats biting and scratching is due to their owners teaching them to cater to their prey drive. The most typical scenario is a cat coming out of nowhere and attacking the owner's ankles. This cat has learned that feet are fun and that in someway they resemble prey in the wild and therefore she may find them exciting to chase and attack. In another scenario, because the cat has been taught that hands and finger are fun to play with, the cat may not allow owners to pet her because as soon as the hand approaches her she will try to catch it or bite it to play.

Under a totally differently circumstance, cats may bite and scratch out of irritation. Some cats may not like to be pet much and may tolerate to be cuddled only up to a certain extent. She may start showing irritation already by moving her tail nervously back and forth and then out of the blue, comes a bite, to simply tell you to back off, because she has had enough. Often the cat may leave as well at this point.

Cats will not have problems biting and scratching when they are fearful of something or in pain. Veterinarians know this well. A cat that is fearful should never be carried around. It may react suddenly causing substantial harm to the person. These scary fits usually happen suddenly leaving little space to react. A typical scenario is an owner carrying a cat around that suddenly panics at the sight of a dog or after hearing a noise. The cat will likely try to run away doing what it takes to get out of the owner's grasp. This may translate in a bite and claw affair.

Redirected aggression is another issue to keep in mind. Owners of cats exhibiting redirected attention often think their cat has gone insane. What happens in this case, is the cat may see something scary from out of the window and may get over charged. Then if the owner approaches her she will hiss and attack out of nowhere often leaving the owners startled. This form of aggression may be challenging to deal with and often the only solution is to put the cat in a small dark room until it calms down. Access to windows may need to be limited if the attacks occur often.

Some cats have been showing a special sensitivity in being pet near their tummy. Some cats particularly dislike this and may react to correct the owner. In other cases, some cats appear to be particularly sensitive in being pet in their back area. These cats may shiver the skin over their back as they are pet there. Some may turn around and bite their owner. In some cases, cats may suffer from a condition known as ''hyperestesia or rolling skin disease''. These are cats that have extra sensitivity in their back areas.

As seen, there are various reasons why your cat may bite and scratch. It is up to you as an owner to find what triggers your cat's reaction to resort to such bad habits. If you own a calm, friendly cat that suddenly appears to become nervous and aggressive, a vet visit is in order as pain is very likely a possibility.


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      Krazy Kat Keeper 5 years ago

      so THAT's why my little Mimi bit me today!