Can You Train Your Cat Not to Bite or Scratch?
Just as birds fly and fish swim, there are certain cat behaviors that are highly specific to their species. Many are learned, but quite a few simply come with the territory. Cats have finely-tuned instincts that enable them to hunt with accuracy. Of those instincts, biting and scratching are common traits associated with the ways cats play. The good news is that you can train your cat to play without getting hurt, and they’ll enjoy all your attention towards that goal.
Cats play by acting out their hunting skills. They ambush, pounce, and act like crazy little predators because, well, they are! Biting and scratching are common feline behaviors in the wild, and definitely play a part in indoor play, too.
It’s worth noting that a cat will bite and scratch during play time if they are not taught alternative behaviors. Also, you might find that your cat leans on biting or scratching to express their opinions. Be mindful of what you’re doing to get this type of reaction from them, and try not to make repeated mistakes.
Say you’re playing with your cat, enjoying their funny/fierce tactics. All of sudden, for no obvious reason, they lash out at you with a skin-breaking bite or a vicious scratch. The best thing you can do in the following moment is stop the game immediately. Walk to a different room and give your cat several long minutes of personal space.
No matter what, do not freak out about what happened. Never scold or punish your cat.
Train Your Cat Instead!
With repeated outcomes, your cat will begin to understand that when they act aggressively, play time stops. They do not like to be ignored, so giving them a temporary break is sometimes all cats need to regroup.
Positive reinforcement is the process of rewarding good behavior and ignoring unwanted ones. When your cat plays the way you like, give them tons of praise, affection, and attention (a couple tasty treats doesn’t hurt, either). Again, when you ignore bad behaviors, like biting or scratching, they’ll figure out that’s not going to get them what they want.
Tips and Tricks
Here are some other helpful tactics to train your cat to play nicely:
- Don’t use your hands or fingers in play. Use toys instead.
- Always trim your cat’s nails to reduce their scratching powers.
- Play with your cat every day for at least 20 minutes.
- Stock up on scratching posts, climbing areas, and other fun cat-only areas.
- Invest time in other activities, like fetch, crate or leash training, toilet training, and obedience commands
If your cat doesn’t respond to your redirection or other cues to stop their biting or scratching, please call us at (404) 792-0700. Our staff members love cats, and look forward to helping your feline friend.
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