Why Cats Bite or Scratch?
Asking why cats bite is somewhat like asking why humans hold things. There can be a number of different reasons why your cat is biting or scratching and there are far too many to list them all. So let’s rule out the most common reasons.
Those “Harmless” Playtime Bites
As an experienced cat parent, you know exactly what this is. It’s when your cat playfully grabs your arm with their paws, biting and playing with you in order to gain attention. While you do want your cat to be fun and playful, you don’t want to get hurt in the process. Make sure to set ground rules, no claws and absolutely no biting. If your cat gets too aggressive or starts to bite you in a way that it’s hurting, stop the playtime. By that we mean do not react to your cat’s playful antics and snub it by turning your back. You can also enforce a timeout.
Maybe You Are the One to Blame
Sometimes it's the humans who are at fault. Aggressive petting or simply waking up the cat constantly when it's trying to get some much-needed shut eye, can all be reasons that lead to cat bites. An easy way to know that a bite or a scratch is coming is by keeping a lookout for warning signs. Does your cat look irritated or anxious? Does it have large eyes and dilated pupils? Do you see your pet wagging its tail? If so, don’t push your luck and give your cat some space. If it’s an unknown cat, you should know that not all cats love being stroked or excessive human contact. This can be due to negative past experiences or simply because of the individual character of the cat in question. Take it slow and allow the cat to come close and show signs that it really wants to be petted.
An Anxious Cat is a Dangerous Cat
Boredom, isolation, being in an unfamiliar environment can lead to anxiety. Anxiety in cats can, in turn, lead to aggressive behavior. Cat anxiety can occur due to a number of reasons and it’s so common that there are medications. Anti-stress cat pills such as Zylkene can help you calm your pet, especially if they are relocated or when your cat is coping with a change.
Your Cat May Quite Simply Be Not Well
If your cat is stressed all the time, it may be a sign of undiscovered medical issues. Your cat may be in pain or is irritated due to a health problem. It can be an easy-fix issue such as a painful skin rash to a more serious problem like an internal injury.
With Age Comes Rage
Cats like humans become cranky as they age. Arthritis, loss of mobility, and sheer boredom can cause senior cats to bite and scratch people. While this can be due to an undetected medical issue, more often than not it’s just because they have reached a certain age where they do not tolerate shenanigans such as aggressive petting or any kind of petting for that matter. Calming pheromone sprays and cat anxiety pills can help, but they should be prescribed by vets after a thorough check up.
Excessive Energy that Manifests as Bites
While it’s good to set boundaries during playtime, it’s also equally important to ensure your cat gets enough exercise. This should help burn off any excess energy that may be causing your pet to be aggressive. Cat toys such as fun laser pointers and string toys can be an easy way to both bond with your pet as well as ensure it gets nice and tired before bedtime.
Why Cat Bites Are Usually More Serious Than Dog Bites
Even though dogs have much more jaw strength than cats do, cat bites can actually be more serious. Cats have tiny, fang-like teeth that can puncture and cause a deep wound. Due to its penetrating power, bacteria from the cat’s mouth can get delivered deep inside the tissues and tendons. Cats can also inject strains of bacteria that are difficult to treat with antibiotics when they affect humans.
Wounds that lead to infection may need surgery to flush out the pathogens from deep inside the tissues.
What to Do Immediately After the Incident?
If your cat bit you hard, you likely have puncture wounds. Since the openings of these wounds are tiny, these injuries clot pretty fast. Unfortunately, that’s not a good thing. Because it clots so fast, bacteria can get trapped inside and cause an infection.
Therefore, the first thing you should do after your cat bites you is wash the area with water. Using a saline solution to clean the wound is also a good idea. Mix two teaspoons of salt with a liter of water to create the solution.
Once the area is clean, employ traditional first-aid tactics to stop the bleeding. It’s also highly recommended that you go see a doctor and rule out infections.
Apply Common Sense
Most of the time cat bites can be prevented if you look out for the signs. You know your cat more than anyone else. Therefore, look for behavioral changes or signs of anxiety and aggression. Refrain from acts that irritate your cat and seek help from an animal behaviorist if your pet becomes increasingly aggressive. Also do not encourage aggressive play sessions that lead to biting and scratching. That just sends mixed messages to your cats if you are also training it not to bite. Neither the wounds caused by cat bites nor the behavior that leads to them should be taken lightly.