Question: Otherwise sweet cat has sudden aggression

by Kim


I have had my sweet girl for 5 years now. I spoil her rotten and she has tons of toys, cat trees, window seats, etc. for constant stimulation. She is a very happy cat and love to snuggle with me on the couch and sleeps with me every night. She treats my live-in boyfriend the same way (although she is a little less friendly to strangers until she gets to know them).

The problem is that my cat will be happy cuddled on my chest or legs while happily purring and closing her eyes and then suddenly she'll bite me HARD and continue that until I push her off. She also starts meowing angrily and has her ears back. Once I push her off she walks away and then will come back shortly after (sometimes literally turns back around) and is fine and happy again. She will bite my face, my ankles, arms... whatever she can get.

My cat has done this her whole life. Most of the time she's so sweet, but probably once a day on average she's doing this. Any advice would be so great.

Dear Kim,

You are certainly not alone with your cat biting problem, and there are many things you can try to help resolve the problem. Many of these tips can be read about in more detail in this question and answer from another reader, Biting Feline Mystery, but I would like to highlight a few for you here as well.

Whenever a cat is biting, there is one thing that works better than anything else to help resolve the issue and takes an incredible amount of practice on the cat owner's part. Your natural reaction, of course, when your cat bites, is to pull away. However, your cat's instinctive behavior is to continue to pursue her prey.

When your cat bites, if you freeze completely, it takes the excitement out of it for the cat. If you don't pull away, it's not fun, and within seconds usually, your cat will stop biting.

This can be quite difficult to do, as it can be painful to have a cat biting you, but if you freeze completely and act as if nothing is happening, and in a calm, soothing voice say "Silly Kitty..." she will likely begin to lose the urge to bite (or bite again) within a few seconds. And, over time, the number of times your cat bites you should reduce as well.

Also, it is important to remember that cats do not respond well to negative punishment. Pushing your cat to the floor, yelling, hitting, etc. all usually just make cat behavior problems worse. Ignoring the behavior, as if it never happened, is the best way to modify cat behavior problems.

Sometimes, offering more attention to your cat, especially in the moments when she is on your lap and may bite for attention, can help as well. Also, make sure you provide toys for your cat that are acceptable for her to bite and chew! Cat pheromone products, such as Feliway diffusers, wipes, and sprays, can help provide a more calming atmosphere for cats, as well, and can help resolve stress-related cat biting problems.

Overall, lack of response when your cat behaves inappropriately, along with some environmental changes, should help resolve your cat's biting problem. Your responses to your cat will ultimately play the biggest role in her behavior!

All the best,
Dr. Neely

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