Preventing Cat Bites

You have just brought home the most adorable cat or kitten that is cuddly and sweet. You play together, hang out together and probably sleep together. You are still getting used to each other's routines and personalities. You might soon find out that your cat sometimes will attempt to bite or nip you. What is going on?


Biting is a form of communication. Your cat is trying to tell you something. It is up to you to figure out what that is. Below are some reasons why your cat might bite you.

Reasons That a Cat Might Bite

  • Medical issue
  • Overstimulation
  • Not receiving enough and/or proper play time
  • Attention-seeking
  • Hypersensitivity to touch

Medical Reason

If a cat isn't feeling well or is in pain, s/he might bite when touched or held. If this is a new behavior, it is advised that your cat be examined by a Veterinarian. If it is a medical issue, your Veterinarian can help to determine the illness or possible injury, and work with you on the best course of treatment.


Some cats become overstimulated and react negatively which could include biting. I have seen cats become overstimulated during playtime. They become so hyper or frenzied, that they bite if touched or if you move past them. I have also seen cats become overstimulated while watching prey, ie birds or mice. They become so focused on the prey, that if you stand too close or touch them, they think it's the prey animal and become reactive. Same if cats are playing together or fighting. If you intervene, they might think it is the other cat and react defensively by biting.


Knowing HOW to play with your cat is important. First of all, it is very important to never play rough with your cat. When a cat rolls onto its back and shows its belly, it usually does not mean to be an invitation to be touched or rough-housed with. Now, that being said, some cats do enjoy a gentle belly rub. If you are still in the stages of learning what your cat likes, I highly recommend that you do not touch the belly. Also, wiggling fingers, hands, feet or toes are out of the question. Cats love to pounce on them if given the opportunity. You are inviting them to behave inappropriately.  What might seem cute while they are a kitten, isn't so adorable when they start to bite harder.

Use toys to play with your cat. Wand style toys are excellent ways to have fun with your cat, provide playtime and exercise, and strengthen your bond with them. Wand toys are wonderful in that you can dangle and move the toy attached to the end of the wand away from you. The cat will focus on the toy (prey) and not you.

When using a wand toy, it's important that it is used correctly. The best way to use it, is to move the attached toy away from the cat (and you), move it around in the air, up and down furniture, in and out of a tunnel or box, etc... Make the toy act like it is a mouse or snake for the cat to hunt. When it is near the time to stop playing, do not just suddenly stop. Move the wand toy around slower and slower until it no longer moves. Allow your cat to catch the toy throughout playtime so she or he does not become frustrated or loses interest. Once the toy has stopped moving, provide a treat or a meal to your cat. The idea is to mimic hunting prey, catching it, then eating it. Afterwards, your cat should feel quite satisfied.

Attention-Seeking Behavior

Some cats will bite just to get your attention. I have one of those cats! Mufasa only has 2 teeth, so he doesn't cause any harm, and luckily, he doesn't bite down hard. However, if he feels he is being ignored when he wants attention, he "bites" my arm. Every cat is different in how you might need to deal with this kind of behavior. The best way to deal with it, is to recognize the pattern and then figure out how to prevent it from happening. In Mufasa's case, if I play with him, he won't bite. I realized that there was a "look" Mufasa gets and at that point, I toss one of his favorite mice for him to chase after, and it works. Redirection is a wonderful tool!

Hyper-sensitivity to Touch

There are some cats that love to be pet or brushed all day long. There are some cats,  that even though they might enjoy it, become overstimulated to the point where they bite. This is very confusing behavior because it appears that the cat is enjoying the attention.

Watching their body for signals is key to knowing when to stop providing attention. Signs to watch for include, but are not limited to: tail twitching or swaying, ears flattened, fur rippling down their back, rubbing their face against you in a frenzied manner. Once you learn their signal, you will know when attention time is over.

Reward Good Behavior

Always remember to reward your cat's good behavior. Never punish them, as that can create fear or anxiety towards you. You want to create or continue to have a special bond with your cat.

It is easy to forget to reward a cat when they are behaving, and that could include when he or she is just sitting on the couch or even sleeping!

If your cat bites, and you have figured out how to prevent more bites from happening, be sure to reward them. Provide a tasty treat, have a fun play session, extra cuddles, etc... As long as you give them something they highly enjoy, they will remember and it will help you both to have a safe and positive relationship.

Ask for Help

If you are experiencing aggression with your cat, and medical issues have already been ruled out, please reach out for a behavior consultation.  I would be happy to help!

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Preparing For Your New Cat


Cats Saving Other Cats

Meet Sir Henry Snugglebutt, retired blood donor cat.

Sir Henry Snugglebutt


Sir Henry Snugglebutt is my best friend's cat. Lynn adopted Sir Henry Snugglebutt in 2015. Henry was 6 yrs old at the time and was getting ready to retire. He is now 12 years old and spoiled rotten. Henry had been a blood donor cat at the Atlantic Veterinary College based in Prince Edward Island, Canada since he was 2.5 years old. He helped save the life of many other cats. 

Sir Henry at AVC before his adoption

As long as I have known Lynn, she has always had a cat and she was looking to adopt. Lynn learned of the blood donor program and that some of the cats were retiring. That meant they needed a forever home. Turned out that Lynn and Henry had a lot in common. Lynn works in the Blood Bank Lab at one of the PEI hospitals where they provide blood for people needing a transfusion. Lynn and Henry were a purrfect match!

The Atlantic Veterinary College adopts cats from the local shelter for this program. The AVC requires that the cats be healthy, friendly, and have a calm temperament.

The Process

When the new blood donor cats arrive, they are quarantined for 8 weeks. During that time, blood tests are run for each life-saving cat to ensure they are healthy and have negative results for feline diseases. Therefore, the cats are able to provide blood transfusions with suitable hemoglobin levels to injured or sick cats. Without the donated blood, cat patients would have died.

Each cat's blood test also determines which Blood Group they are in.  Sir Henry and his 2 cat pals were Blood Group A.  A cat requiring a blood transfusion must be a match to that Blood Group. Cats have naturally occurring alloantibodies to red cell antigens and severe reactions can occur with type-mismatched transfusions.  Group A is the most common blood type in cats (approximately 73% of cats are A). Other blood types are B and AB.

With a light sedation, blood was drawn from Sir Henry's jugular when an immediate transfusion was needed, but never more often than every 28 days. This allowed time in between blood draws for Sir Henry's body to replenish that volume. The amount drawn is about 20% of their blood volume.

Care and Enrichment 

The blood donor cats were the responsibility of dedicated Vet Technicians while in their care.  Feeding them, cleaning up after them, and most importantly, providing attention and playtime. The cats were given plenty of time to roam around the room, look out windows, enjoy a sun puddle, and to interact with staff.  The cats participate in the program for 3 years.

Time to Retire!

When it was time for Sir Henry to retire, Lynn was interviewed to ensure it was a good match. Once Lynn was approved, she had to wait 3 months while the next group of blood donating cats went through their quarantine. Then, Sir Henry was able to go to his forever home!

To help Sir Henry with his transition into a new environment, Lynn did a few things to help him feel at home. She bought him a scratching post exactly like the one at the vet college so it would be familiar; before he came home she brought toys over and a hair brush to be in the cats' room to get all their smells on it. To this day his most favorite ball is one that came from their room. She also brushed all 3 cats, and then brought some of the combined fur home to place in Sir Henry's new cat bed. 

Sir Henry in his forever home

Happy Cat

"Henry walked out of the pet carrier when we arrived home, walked to the food bowl and had a snack, went and laid on both beds, both sofas, and checked out his toys and litter box all within the first 20 minutes or so,  as if he lived here his whole life. He almost immediately relaxed. I noticed it around the food right away that he was used to having to wolf down his food otherwise the other boys would get it. He enjoyed being able to pick at his kibbles at will with no pressure. He crawled up on top of me on the couch and had a cuddle and snooze right away. It was a joy to see how happy and at ease he was right away."

Sir Henry is a very happy boy, and loves his Mom very much.  He enjoys watching birds, having the occasional zoomies, and also watching videos on the laptop.  He always makes an appearance when Lynn and I FaceTime with each other.  He even watches my cats if he can see them.  Retirement is looking good on you, Sir Henry Snugglebutt!



all photos courtesy of Sir Henry's Mom


Want to Learn More?

By the way, dogs can donate blood, too.  If you are interested in volunteering your cat or dog to be a blood donor, be sure to do plenty of research to understand all that is involved.  Contact your own Veterinarian as well.  

For more information:

Interested in Volunteering Your Cat to Donate Blood? Click on the following link to learn more.

2021 ISFM Guidelines

ISFM Consensus Guidelines on the Collection and Administration of Blood and Blood Products in Cats


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