Understanding Cat Bites and Learning How to Respond

Understanding Cat Bites and Learning How to Respond

Ginger cat bites woman's hand.Based on the books, the movie franchise “How To Train Your Dragon” encapsulates the wonder and awe people typically have for majestic creatures. Not unlike a fire-breathing reptile, cats may also have a propensity to show their wild side. By this, we mean showing their teeth, of course!

Just when you thought you had feline behavior down pat, bites from your frisky pet leave you wondering yet again. Is it feline aggression or triggered anxiety? Is it the result of just a little harmless feline fun?

Let’s find out!

A Regular Thing

Schertz Animal Hospital recognizes the importance of keeping your cat healthy, happy, and safe. Preventing cat bites is certainly part of that equation, and we remain dedicated to helping you understand feline behavior.

No Laughing Matter

Cat bites can be extremely dangerous. The canine teeth can actually puncture skin, leaving behind trace amounts of oral bacteria. Left untreated, this can lead to a system-wide infection of the body. In addition to antibiotics, a bite from an unfamiliar cat may require a rabies prophylaxis and tetanus booster.

Kids, elderly folks, and those with compromised immune systems are at risk of developing infections. If you or anyone you know experiences a cat bite, please seek medical attention as soon as possible.

Speaking of Kids

Cats are cute, fluffy, and fascinating to children. That being said, cats bite those who physically harass them or invade their space bubbles.That’s why it’s important to prevent aggressive handling and to prohibit actions such as tail pulling and yanking on ears or whiskers. Likewise, cats should never be bothered during meals, naps, or when tending their young. Yelling, shrieking, and rough horseplay can also result in cat bites.

Cat Bite Behavior

The physical characteristics of a rankled cat may include:

  • Hissing
  • Fluffed up fur on the tail or back
  • Pinned back ears
  • Yowling
  • Slinking close to the floor as a way of escape
  • Dilated pupils

Give your cat time and space to calm down; otherwise he or she may instinctively bite as a means of self-protection.

Play Aggression

Your cat may play-attack hands or ankles as part of his or her favorite hunting game. Kittens are especially known to sink their teeth into human skin, but they’re just beginning to learn proper play behavior.

Never use your hands or fingers to entice (or taunt) your cat. When playing, always protect your hands. If your kitten or cat continues to bite during play, stop immediately. He or she will eventually understand that biting is unacceptable play behavior.

Cats Bite to Communicate

Not all cat bites are the result of stress, impatience, anxiety, fear, or aggression. Cats often bite as a way of communicating. For example, some pets may reward our attention and petting with an unexpected nip or nibble. Although it may seem ungrateful, it’s simply your cat’s way of signaling he or she has had enough petting for now. As long as this doesn’t progress into a full-fledged attack, these little bites are considered normal feline behavior.

Schertz Cares

While preventing dog bites is important, addressing cat bites is also critical. To avoid bites, train your cat on appropriate play behavior, provide opportunities to scratch, and closely observe body language. As always, our veterinarians and staff are here to help. Please contact us with any questions or concerns.

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Schertz Animal Hospital

Since 1976, Schertz Animal Hospital has offered the greater San Antonio area outstanding pet care. Our state-of-the-art animal hospital in Schertz, TX compliments our stress-free handling and experienced veterinary staff. Make an appointment online or give us a call at (210) 659-0345 today!