Purina Cat Chow

Why cats bite and ways to prevent it

For declawed cats, teeth are their only means of defense. So if they feel anxious or upset, they will bite to protect themselves. Declawed or not, cats may bite when afraid or angry. This makes it especially important to never tease your cat, which can be frustrating and threatening. If your cat has a medical condition, he may bite because of the pain it is causing. Whatever the reason, you can look for warning signs before a cat bites: If he is hissing, flattens his ears or emits a low growl, it’s time to back away.

If your cat is not acting out because of an injury or illness, it's time for some training. If you've been play-fighting with your cat, stop—it encourages aggressive behavior toward you. Let your cat play rough with a toy he can chase instead. If he nips at you during play or petting, stop and walk away. Provide your cat—declawed or not—with a scratching post to help work off excess energy and stress.

If you attempt to pet your cat and he rewards your affection with a bite, slowly take your hand away and respect his personal space. If your cat continues to exhibit aggressive behavior, consult with your veterinarian.

If your cat does bite you and the teeth break the skin, clean the bite with soap and water, apply an antibiotic ointment and cover the area with a bandage. Watch the wound for redness, swelling or oozing pus—these are all signs of infection. If any of these symptoms develop, contact your doctor.

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