Cats are adorable little creatures that can be a joy to own, but they also have their quirks. One of the more unusual behaviors exhibited by cats is love bites. Love bites are small puncture wounds on another animal’s skin caused by a cat’s front teeth. While cats may give these love bites to other animals in the household, they occasionally inflict them on humans as well.
What Causes a Cat to Give Love Bites?
Cats giving love bites is a behavior that has more than one motivation. First, the cat is able to mark the animal with its scent for identification purposes. Pet MD states they also receive pleasure from this activity. Some cats are more prone to giving love bites than others, and it’s not uncommon for kittens to begin biting as soon as they arrive in your home. There are steps that you can take to curb this behavior.
How to Stop Your Cat From Giving Love Bites
As noted by Care.com, the best way to stop your cat from giving love bites is to redirect his attention. If he enjoys biting, play with him and allow him to bite the toy rather than your fingers or toes. You can also play a game of fetch until the behavior stops. Cats have threshold points, so if you let him bite once or twice, he’ll be more likely to keep going.
What Are the Long Term Effects of a Cat Giving Love Bites?
If your cat is a habitual love bite giver, he may have to be stopped from biting you. Love bite injuries can require stitches or difficult-to-heal wounds. Many people whose cat gives love bites experience stress and anxiety when they are being bitten or scratched by their cat. If they have contact with other cats or dogs, they may associate these interactions with bites they’ve received from their own pet. In extreme cases, a cat that gives love bites may be euthanized.
What Other Reasons Do Cats Bite?
Cats also bite for a couple of other reasons. These include:
- Spasming muscles/hairballs – Cats may dig their teeth into these areas to prevent themselves from vomiting or regurgitating a hairball.
- Communication – Cats are known to bite the neck or chest of other cats, both of which are the primary way they communicate with each other. Often, when a cat gives another cat bites, he is trying to show dominance. This is why it’s beneficial to keep cats separated if they don’t get along.
- Pain – Cats may learn how to bite as a way to show pain, particularly if a veterinarian has had to put them under anesthesia. If your cat gives you a love bite, you may be able to determine what’s bothering him.
- Pain from eating – A cat that has eaten too fast and is choking on the food may give you a wide-mouthed bite. This is often mistaken for playfulness, but it’s actually the cat’s way of saying, “I’m in pain.”
- Fear – Cats may bite humans or other animals out of fear. If you’ve noticed a cat that bites when he’s around humans or other animals, you’ll need to desensitize him to the presence of these creatures. Your veterinarian can also assist you with this task.
- Anger – Cats may bite if they’re angry with you or another animal in the household. Because cats are social creatures that learn from others, the best way to curb their biting is by correcting their bad behavior.
- Stress – Many cats that have been abused or neglected will bite as a way to cope with and control situations. They often won’t respond to extensive training, but this behavior can be modified through positive reinforcement methods and positive behavioral training.
- Anxiety – When a cat is stressed, he may bite as a way to cope. The cat will need to be diagnosed by a veterinarian. If you suspect your cat is suffering from anxiety, give him regular grooming and attempt to meet his needs.
Other Ways To Stop Cats From Biting
- Clicker training – Clicker training is a very effective way to teach animals new behaviors. It works because the animal associates the sound of your clicking your fingers with praise. Cats that are taught to sit are more likely to stay seated, and cats that are taught to stop biting you will stop biting you.
- Desensitization – Cats that bite have been traumatized by a traumatic experience, so helping them learn how to control their emotions can help them learn other ways of communicating. Your veterinarian may be able to help you with this training.
- Training – Cats can be trained just like dogs. While they’re not always willing to participate, you can use different methods of positive reinforcement, such as treats and praise, to teach them new behaviors and curb negative behaviors.
- Punishment – Punishing a cat for biting is a bad idea unless it’s extremely severe or he’s in danger of hurting himself or another animal in the process. Cats do not respond well to punishment, and it can actually make them more likely to bite you. The best way to get a cat to change his behavior is through positive reinforcement. If he bites, stop playing with him and ignore his behavior.
- See a vet – According to Purina, if your cat has suddenly begun biting you or another member of the family, you may want to bring him to the vet because he could be suffering from a health issue that’s causing him stress or pain.
Cats that love bite tend to not have any problems, and it’s usually just a playful activity that is done on occasion. However there are more serious kinds of cat bites. Cats that bite are often doing so because they are in pain, stressed, or traumatized by a stressful experience. The best way to curb your cat’s biting is to desensitize him to certain situations and implement positive training techniques.