Why does my cat bite me for no reason?
Original Question: My cat bites a fair bit. She will come at your legs and bite the ankles or climb on top of the chair and try to bite you as you walk by. It’s not all day but I haven't been able to figure out a pattern yet. We got her at 6 weeks and I realize that it was a bit early to take her from the litter. When she is not in "bite" mode, she is very affectionate. She is always following me or my daughter wherever we go. She cries if we close the bathroom door or bedroom door and she follows us up and down the stairs all day...wherever we go. Looking for advice on how to manage this biting behaviour. - Carm
Thanks for your question. I’m sorry to hear about this but I’ve dealt with this situation many times throughout my career.
Cats have been domesticated but they still retain some of their basic instincts. They essentially were hunters, foraged for food and defended their territory from intruders. Most cats still have an intensity in their play behaviour and sometimes a cat can direct this towards the owner. I think of it as the owner becomes the plaything and that can be a dangerous scenario. I’ve often heard stories of cats that lash out at their owners when they walk around a corner in the house, much like the cat is waiting to attack them.
When cats attack it often occurs because of a need for stimulation. Having a stable indoor environment can be safe but also a bit boring for a cat and so they can manifest this type of intense behaviour. It is quite common.
I recommend that you work on implementing environmental enrichment. Start to engage in a lot more play with your cat but make sure it is at a ‘distance’. By that, I mean that you should use toys and devices that engage your cat but are not close to your own body. A good example is a laser pointer, an automatic movement toy (there are many of these on the market that go off or move on their own and will do it while you’re not at home), or toys that have a very long handle with something at the end of it so it is far from you. Using stimulating cat toys in this way will distance you from being the ‘plaything’ and also fulfil this need in your cat. It will also ‘wear her out’ if you can do it enough so that her intensity for play is muted by the time you start to engage her in affectionate contact.
I strongly recommend that you buy a cat pheromone diffuser. This is a device that you plug in the wall and it emits a pheromone which has a tremendous calming effect on cats. You can inquire about this at your local veterinary clinic. There are also natural supplements that are meant to calm cats down and take ‘the edge off’. I believe these products will work well. It doesn’t mean you use it forever and if you treat her with this for a month or two, she will likely learn to become a more relaxed cat.
I have no doubt that this will solve your dilemma. This is a common issue that I have had great success resolving with these simple techniques and treatments.
I hope this helps. Good luck.
Dr. Clayton Greenway
Disclaimer: healthcareforpets.com and its team of veterinarians and clinicians do not endorse any products, services, or recommended advice. All advice presented by our veterinarians, clinicians, tools, resources, etc is not meant to replace a regular physical exam and consultation with your primary veterinarian or other clinicians. We always encourage you to seek medical advice from your regular veterinarian.
- Do you recommend a stool test for my cat who is on a raw food diet?
- Answered by: Dennis Chmiel, DVM, MBA
- Nov 25, 2020
- When can you start brushing a cat’s teeth?
- Answered by: Jeanne Perrone, MS, CVT, VTS (Dentistry)
- Jun 13, 2020
- Why does my cat have a runny nose and discharge in his eyes?
- Answered by: Dr. Alex Avery, BVSc
- May 16, 2019