Most of us who have cats have had it happen. While walking up the stairs, suddenly out of nowhere appears a cat, nipping at our ankles. Or they’re hiding under the bedskirt, just waiting for the sneak attack when we walk by. With cats, it’s all in the name of fun – mostly.
Most times when your cats are nipping at you, they’re simply indicating they want you to play. But your energetic little one(s) may need to learn some boundaries. Play that becomes aggressive needs be tamed. This is especially true if you have children.
Redirect nipping and biting with a toy you can play with together. Having a structured playtime with your cat, and plenty of interactive toys usually is enough. If your cat acts aggressively toward you or bites you while playing, cease play for a few minutes.
Put the toy away and walk away. Your cat will soon get the message that if they bite, they won’t get playtime with you and the behavior should stop. Come back in a few minutes, and start to play again – gently.
Never yell, hit or punish your cat, though, as this will not fix the behavior, and you may very well make things worse. Unknowingly, we are sometimes part of the problem. If we roughhouse with our cat, we are teaching them that aggressive behavior is OK.
There are even toys on the market that are made like gloves with dangling fingers for your cat to bite. These types of toys are not recommended, as they encourage biting of hands and fingers when the play gloves are not on. Kittens and cats should never be played with using our hands – this just encourages the bad behavior.
Learn to read your cat’s signals when you play. If their ears are back, their tail is swishing back and forth, or they are trying to get away, they’ve had enough. Continuing to try and play will often force aggressive behavior.
If your cat or kitten is new to your household, involve him/her in as many different situations as possible. Have visiting friends and family interact with your cat while giving them treats. Handle your cat gently and often. Socialized kittens and cats tend to be calmer and are less likely to act aggressively.
Provide plenty of fun toys and daily playtime, redirect inappropriate behavior when it happens, and practice short time-outs for bad behavior. Eventually you should see any aggressive behavior disappear.