My Cat Bites and Scratches Me! Help!

When your cat is bitten or torn, you need to find out why it behaves the way it does. First and foremost, you need to rule out that your cat is not physically ill. A cat that is not feeling well may react with aggression and a reluctance to be touched.

There are also cats that use biting as activation. A cat is a predator and hunting and attacking is a natural behavior. If the cat receives a response such as us screaming, barking at the cat or the like, it is a form of confirmation of the cat’s behavior and it will continue to activate in this way. Most often you need to let the cat go out, enrich the cat’s indoor environment and also ignore the behavior to make the cat stop seeing you as something to activate itself with (hunt / attack).

If the kitten has been taken prematurely from its mother, before the age of 12 weeks, it may also have missed important lessons from its mother about play and hunting and it may have difficulty knowing the difference and where the boundaries go.

It is often said that there are two different types of feline individuals. Partly the cats who are very confident and social, partly the more withdrawn cats (who can still be confident and safe). What it depends on, what type a cat belongs to, whether it is hereditary or whether it is an external influence, the studies have not really agreed on.

It is very important that the kitten, from the age of two weeks, gets to meet and be handled by many different people. It is important that they get used to different sounds, surfaces, scents, etc. A kitten that is genetically a safe and social cat can, with the right socialization, become a very independent and balanced cat as an adult. But also the same cat, with the wrong upbringing can be more withdrawn. In the same way, a kitten who is genetically more withdrawn, with the right upbringing and socialization can become a safe and social cat as an adult. The cat’s first 12 weeks of life are incredibly important.

Cats are not herd animals like dogs but they live in social groups. They mostly hunt, eat and sleep on their own, but they still have certain behaviors to strengthen and maintain the bonds within the social group. A common scenario when the cat begins to bite and tear is when it lies on its back or side in front of the owner on the floor or next to the owner on the couch. The cat just wants to communicate with its owner, strengthen the bonds and welcome its owner when he comes home. If the owner then bends down or extends the arm to pat the cat on the stomach or on the side of the body, the cat experiences this act as an insult. It can be compared to a person going forward and greeting another person by extending his hand, but then the other person would respond by giving an ear file.

The cat feels threatened and then usually begins to grab the arm, kick with its hind legs and sometimes bite and then quickly jump from there and sit somewhere else and wash itself to calm itself down. The cat is a completely different animal than us and the dog and therefore has completely different feelings and body language. What is described above is called the cuddle and bite syndrome and is very common and is due to a misunderstanding between the owner and the cat. A cat has different security thresholds, the more often it happens for the cat that it experiences this insult, the more the cat lowers its security threshold. The cats that you can cuddle with for a long, long time, have a high safety threshold.

If a cat’s safety threshold has become very low, you can help it raise the threshold again through trust and patience. Most cats do not like to be petted on the stomach, even those who have a high safety threshold, it is a very vulnerable place and you should preferably avoid patting all cats on the stomach. Rather pat around the head, under the chin and on the back. When the cat lies next to the owner and is cuddled with and then suddenly begins to bite and tear, it usually has long before we see it shown that you start approaching the cat’s threshold. It can show with so many different body languages ​​that it does not thrive, the eyes, whiskers, ears, fur, tail for example. But it’s hard for us to see.

If it has happened that the cat has reached its threshold several times, it may be enough to just extend its hand and the cat will feel vulnerable and bite or tear at the hand to protect itself against the insecure and threatening feeling it experiences when it reaches the security threshold. The cat may also have linked touch to other discomfort and react in this way. When the cat behaves as above, the owner must take a step back. Sometimes it can take several months and sometimes you just have to accept your cat for how it is as an individual, more or less cuddly and onwards.

Taking a step back means completely stopping petting and touching the cat for a period of time. If you can then get close with your hand, make sure to stop before the cat shows any discomfort. Just pat around the head, one pat at a time, then back up and leave the cat alone. The goal is to get the cat to stop associating clapping and the owner’s hands to the threatening and vulnerable feeling.

The most important thing is to stop petting before the cat reaches its safety threshold. Do not wait until the cat starts waving its tail or biting / tearing, stop before. Interrupt long before, because why do you interrupt before the cat feels vulnerable raises the cat’s threshold and next time maybe you can pat the cat twice.

But the cat is not always petting, you can also talk to, start playing or just leave the cat alone. For problems like these, you can get help from Feliway (a safety pheromone) but also from Zylkene, which is a calming dietary supplement.

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