Training your Cat NOT to Bite or Scratch
It is normal for cats and kittens to bite and scratch.
If a cat is frightened or feels threatened, it will naturally try to defend itself.
If you touch your cat in a sensitive area, he may bite or scratch as a way
telling you to "quit it." Some cats will solicit your attention and enjoy a few
minutes of gentle stroking, then suddenly turn around and bite.
There is a fine
line between pleasurable petting and irritating handling. When your cat has had
enough, the only way it knows how to say "stop it," is with its claws or teeth.
Cats and kittens will also scratch and bite when they are playing and acting
their hunting instincts.
Teach your cat to enjoy being touched and handled so
he doesn't feel threatened, defensive or irritated. Start the lessons when your
cat is relaxed. Begin by handling him in ways he finds pleasurable. Scratch
his ears and stroke the top of his head. Lengthen the strokes to include more
of his body. Stroke down his back, down the hind legs and tail. Stroke along
side of his body.
See if he will roll onto his side or completely roll over to
accept a tummy rub. Use plenty of praise, reassurance and an occasional
Work slowly and gradually increase the area of his body that may be stroked.
Within a very short handling session, you will be able
to locate your cat's sensitive spots that will require additional careful attention.
Usually these are the mouth, paws, ears and tail. When working with sensitive
areas, touch your cat for just one second and immediately reward him with his
favorite food treat. Then touch him for two seconds. Gradually increase the time
of contact required for a food treat. Your cat will learn to happily tolerate
prolonged contact in these areas.
Gently take hold of your cat's paw, scratch him behind
the ear and give him his treat. Then let go and ignore him for awhile. Repeat
this routine several times. Your cat will soon look forward to having his paw
held. Carefully try to spread his toes. Continually praise and stroke him with
your other hand as long as he appears relaxed. Examine each toe and nail.
Facing your cat, scratch him behind his ear with your
fingers, and use your thumb to gently fold back his ear to examine inside. Similarly,
when examining his mouth, continue scratching behind the ear and with your thumb,
gently flip up his upper lip to expose his teeth.
Work slowly and gently, always rewarding and praising
your cat for good behavior.
Cats are predators. Even though you provide your cat
with all his meals, his instinct to hunt still exists. It is normal for cats to
continually practice and fine-tune their hunting skills. Therefore, it is essential
that you provide an outlet for this behavior or your cat will practice on you.
Three fifteen minute play sessions a day will give your
cat enough opportunity to vent his energy. Make these sessions active and fun.
Tie a toy to a length of string. Drag it in front of your cat, alternating between
slow pulls and sudden jerks. Let your cat stalk and play attack his toys instead
If your cat becomes overly excited, tone down the play
session. Do not resume until he has calmed down. If he begins to bite or scratch
you, immediately scream "OUCH," stop the play session, walk away and ignore him.
Curtailing a play session is an extremely potent punishment. Your cat will soon
learn that it is his own rough behavior that causes the abrupt end of an enjoyable
If your cat attacks you in play, entice him to attack
when your are prepared with a plant sprayer. A few repetitions of an attack-squirt
sequence should convince him to attack his toys instead of you.