Can I stop the cat attacks?

Cat Spraying No More

catspray, cat

We have an 8-month old kitten who is incredibly loving and affectionate. However, he loves to bite me, especially when I get home from work and early in the morning. He does not bite my husband as often as he bites me, which we don’t understand. We have tried using a squirt bottle. It distracts him, but he will continue to bite. Lately, he deliberately attacks me after I squirt him–he will jump, bite, and run. How can we sop this behavior? Thanks. L.

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Intrepretating cat bites is a challenge.

Dear L.,

Cat bites can be pretty mysterious to most feline caregivers; after all, cats don’t just bite out of aggression. For cats, non-aggressive bites can mean anything from “That feels good! Pet me more!” to “Get out of bed and feed me right now!”

So, how can we interpret what your cat means by biting you, if there are so many potential meanings? It’s all about the context. What happens before the bite? What happens immediately after? Unfortunately, we don’t have all the details of your problem, but we can list some possible solutions.

If you are typically petting your cat when he bites you, it could be that his biting is a natural reaction to enjoying petting and is exhibited by many cats. Because you say that your cat is extremely affectionate, it is less likely that your cat is biting you because he has had enough of your petting and is biting you to make you stop.

Sometimes cats use biting as away of demanding food or attention. This could be happening when you come home from work, or wake up in the morning. These are often times that people pay the most attention to their cats, or when the cats get fed.

To stop your cat from biting you in the morning, make sure that you prevent him from having access to your room until you are ready to feed him or pay him attention in the morning. When you come home from work, have your cat’s favorite toy waiting at the doorway, so that you can immediately interact with him in an appropriate way. If your cat doesn’t like toys, try keeping treats by the door, so that you can reward him for some trained behaviors.

Training cats to perform behaviors like sit, down, and come is far from impossible and is a must when you live with a pushy cat, who should learn to defer to you. In this respect, cats are not very different from dogs. You’ll find lots of information about training cats by searching the Web for “clicker training cats.”

As far as attacking you when you use the squirt bottle: this is an example of why we do not recommend using this method in response to biting (or any nuisance behavior) in cats. Spraying a cat with a squirt bottle can evoke hiding out of fear in some cats and aggression in others. It is not unheard of for cats that are sprayed with water bottles to attack their owners in ‘retaliation’ or ‘self-defense.’ Instead, the best solution would be to think about what the situation was that provoked the bite and change it to prevent the bite from taking place.

If you still have trouble understand why your cat is biting you and how to prevent him from doing so, please contact the Houston SPCA Animal Behavior and Training department, where our feline behavior specialists have had great success in cases of cat aggression. You can call us at 713-869-7722, ext. 190, or email us at

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