House cats by nature are calm and loving beings. They are also pretty smart, they will go to great length to avoid hurting their humans. However, it wouldn’t be too difficult to imagine a cat taking a swipe at a cheeky kid that is pulling its tail or a cat engaging in an energetic play forget itself and take a nip. A cat scratch or bite can be infectious and develop into annoying diseases such as cat-scratch disease and is best to avoid it. It is handy to know ways to prevent scratching and biting, and how to response when the cat is on the war path.
If You Have Been Bitten or Scratched:
- Retain your composure. Never yell, hit, or chase after your cat. These actions are counterproductive in the long run.
- Instead, use your voice and body to signal a disapproval by saying “NO” immediately firmly and authoritatively. Stare at the cat to signal your annoyance as well as dominance. For cheekier or aggressive cat, you may need to clap your hands loudly once or twice while simultaneously saying “NO” to further emphasize your dominance.
- Disengage yourself from the cat as soon as possible. Stop touching the cat immediately, move your limbs under attack well out of its striking range. Walk away dismissively and leave the room until the cat has calmed down. The signal of disapproval must be consistent, cuddling, petting, or soothing must be denied temporarily for at least 20 – 30 minutes.
- A way out for the cat. If a snarling, hissing cat is blocking the way, preventing you from leaving the room, it is likely it feels trapped and interprets your walking towards him as trouble, defense by attacking is on the radar. The best thing to do in this situation is simply to step aside and let the cat pass first before going your way.
- Refrain from giving treats or food to the cat for 20 – 30 minutes following a scratching or biting incident. You would not want the cat to have the misconception of scratching or biting is rewarding.
Curtail Scratching and Biting Behavior:
- Start young or as soon as possible to teach your cat acceptable limits. When your kitty nips you while playing, say “NO” firmly and move your limp away, disengage yourself and walk away to signal the game is done. Done consistently, the kitten will soon associate biting or scratching as dismissal and will refrain from doing so.
- If you want to discourage love bites, pressing back steadily but gently against the bite will make it unpleasant for the cat and prevent further chomp down. Pulling away too fast from a play grab or bite is likely to get yourself clawed or bitten accidentally
- Invest in a cat scratching pole or two will keep the cat’s claw short and also provide a good workout session for your cat. A contented and tired cat is less likely to cause any harm than one that is bored with excess energy.
- Engage your cat in multiple 5-minute play sessions with laser light or LED pointer, string toys, a roll of yarn or other suitable toys that do not include your fingers or toes will keep your cat stimulated, energy well spent, and all your digits safe.
- If a cat is particularly problematic and does not react to normal technique, neutering is an option. A neutered cat is known to be more sociable and easier to get along with.
Learn to read aggression behavior:
- A displeasure cat may hiss, growl, or ululating, or tipping back his ears flat against his head.
- A cat ready for preemptive strike likely to arch his back with skin rippling, and growl aggressively. His whiskers may point forward and mouth draws back. Ears flat and point backward.
- A cornered cat likely to crouch and look nervously from side to side, looking for an escape path. Failure to do so will likely see him strike out defensively.
Possible reasons why cats scratch or bite:
- The cat may be anxious or stressed. A change in people, environment, and abusive toddler may cause the cat to feel cornered and strike out. The best option is to restore the ambiance as much as possible, and as soon as possible. Tune down the volume on TV, separates the crying or noisy kids from the cat. Teach the kids not to chase the cat around or pull its tail. No hitting or shouting at the cat. Learn how to pet the cat the correct way.
- The cat may be in pain or not well. A cat in pain or unwell may become defensive and lash out. A trip to a veterinarian clinic may determine the health issue and proper treatment can be prescribed. Once the underlying health issue is treated, the cat temperament is likely to improve as well.
- An older cat may not welcome being cuddled or picked up. They just want to be left alone in peace.
- The cat may merely too excited in play. To curtail over play, please refer to earlier sections of this article.
Cats react best to positive reinforcement and consistency in treatments, praising and treat rewarding for appropriate behavior will mold your cat to be well behaved and well loved. Scolding, hitting, chasing and other negative gestures likely to turn your cat into a scared confused cat ready to defense itself at any possible perceived threat.