Ouch! How To Prevent Cat Bites

Angry cat ready to bite, but cat bites can be prevented.© Ermolaev Alexandr-Fotolia.com

A few nights ago, I came across an article by Christine Schelling, who’s one of my favorite online vets because of her outspoken stand against declawing. But in this article, she wasn’t talking about declawing. She was discussing cat bites and why they should be taken seriously.I have to admit I’ve had lots of experience with cat bites. For 18 years, I lived with a cat who slept with me every night and would sink every tooth and claw into my arm if I moved the wrong way. And then there was the damaging sneak attack by a pet sitting cat. I still pet sit for her, although she terrifies me.

Having read Dr. Schelling’s article, I realize I should have taken those bites more seriously, and in the future, I will. But I also believe the best cure for a cat bite, like anything else, is prevention.

Seven ‘Catspeak’ Words You Need To Know To Prevent Cat Bites

Humans exchange a few harsh words before the fists start flying. A frightened or angry cat has harsh words of warning for us, too. But since a cat’s preferred means of communication is body language, We have to “listen” with our eyes instead of our ears.

Here are seven fighting words to add to your “catspeak” vocabulary.

1. Twitching tail. This is your cat’s way of saying, “I’m getting annoyed.” It’s best to pay attention and just leave him alone.

2. Trashing tail. Your cat’s beyond annoyed now, and you need to quickly but calmly get out of harm’s way. 

3. A direct, unblinking stare. And if you stare a cat in the eye, he’ll think you’re about to attack!

4. Pulled back ears. Or, an angry cat’s ears may be upright, with the backs angled slightly forward.

5. Huge, dilated pupils.

6. Showing teeth.

7. Arched back.

8. Raised hair on the cat’s back and tail.

Take these unspoken words very seriously! And don’t ignore hisses and growls either. When a cat hisses at you, he’s telling you in no uncertain terms he wants to be left alone.

An Ounce Of Prevention Can Ward Off Cat Bites

A frightened cat ready to attack© shymar27 – Fotolia.com

Now that you and your cat speak the same language, you should be able to avoid cat bites simply by paying attention to what he’s telling you. Here are some more ways to prevent bites.
— Never corner a cat or cut off his escape route. A cat who feels trapped will attack.

— Don’t approach a cat who’s telling you he’s angry or frightened. Either calmly and quietly move away, or stand perfectly still until he loses interest and leaves. Remember, cats seem to have infinite patience, and it could take the cat several minutes to get bored and think of something else to do.

— Pay attention to “love bites.” Even a little nip can puncture the skin and cause infection. And cats don’t bite out of love. They nip because they’ve had enough petting and want to be left alone.

— Never pick your cat up against his will, even if you need to get him into a carrier to go to the vet. Unless your cat is very sick, it’s better to miss the appointment than get bitten. You can try again another day.

— Teach young children to never chase a cat, pull his tail or touch him when he’s not in the mood.

— If your cat leaps out of dark corners to grab your leg, say his name when you’re approaching his usual hiding spots, or toss some toys or treats to take his attention away from you.

Nice Cats Bite Too

There are very few truly mean cats in this world. Most cats bite out of fear or frustration, not meanness. To avoid getting bitten, know your cat and devise workarounds to prevent setting him off. When you learn his body language and figure out how to compromise and do some things his way, the two of you should be able to live in “purrfect” and painless harmony.


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