How do I stop a cat from biting?
This largely depends on when your cat is biting you. There are a couple of basic reasons that the cat could be doing it, and there are different ways to handle each one.
1) Rough Play - Cats will often bite people when they are playing with them. It's a natural part of play with other cats, but sometimes they overdo it and get too rough. Another cat might not notice it because of their thick coat of fur, but your skin is exposed and easier to hurt. If a cat is doing it during play, then the best option is to loudly say "OW" or some similar expression of pain to let the cat know it hurt you, then cut off the play and ignore the cat for a little while. They'll gradually learn to stop - they want to keep playing, and they'll learn that the game ends if they bite too hard.
2) Biting when you pet them - Many cats do this when you either pet them when they're aggravated or when you touch something sensitive. The first thing to do is make sure it's not a health problem. If your cat only recently started doing it, you'll want to check to make sure there's not an injured or sensitive spot that you are brushing against. Your cat could be sick. If it's a long-time thing, then you should also make sure that you're not the actual problem. Are you petting your cat too roughly? Different cats may dislike being petted in different ways. Watch to see if doing something specific consistently causes the bites - if it does, stop doing that. Another cause is keeping after cats when they are aggravated and don't want attention. Watch the tail on this one - the cat will usually start flipping it around rapidly before any biting. Cats usually don't randomly bite without some warning first, but if they do you should vocalize your discomfort and use some negative consequence - a water spray bottle works well. Just make sure you use it immediately - don't run off to go get it if you don't have it on hand when you get bit.
Finally, remember that if your cat isn't breaking the skin, you may not have to worry about it that much about it. Many cats will nip at you without doing it hard enough to hurt you. Just hold still when they bite, don't fight it, and they'll let go without hurting you. Also, sometimes cats bite you out of pleasure. These are generally very soft nips - the cat will not try to close down its mouth, but you will feel the teeth gently. You can tell the difference between the two based on how your cat is acting - if it's still purring and still being friendly, it is nipping you much in the same way littermates do to each other when they are grooming. If the cat hisses or looks grouchy, with laid back ears, it wants you to stop touching it. Swishing the tail rapidly is also a sign the cat is mad. Just stop petting it in this case - the nip was a friendly warning, and you should heed it rather than trying to punish the cat.
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