Handle your cat gently to avoid being bitten as a “cat play response”.
This is a very straightforward and simple cat behaviour tip but I think that it is a useful one, nonetheless. I don’t know how many, but quite a lot of cat owner-caretakers handle their cats in a way that they would like to handle them. They handle their cats in a way that pleases them and often it is reminiscent of baby handling. This then depends upon the nature of the person. If the person is a gentle person then he or she might handle their cat gently. By contrast, another person might handle their cat in a less than gentle manner.
The first point to make is that people should handle their cats in a way that pleases their cat. How do you know what this is? You will learn through observation and first-hand experience with your cat. Each cat in an individual with his own likes and dislikes.
Above all else, the first rule of handling your cat is to handle him or her gently. This is because if you handle him too roughly it may stimulate the cat to bite, not necessarily in an aggressive way but in a way which is consistent with roughhouse playing. If you watch kittens you will see that they play quite roughly together and they learn how hard they can bite and play.
Cat owners should learn in the same way with respect to what their cat finds acceptable but there is no doubt in my mind that the starting point should be gentleness. And I really mean gentleness; a very soft touch to the point where there is little or almost no possibility that your cat will be stimulated into playing with you with his or her teeth.
A lot of people think that when they stroke their cat and he/she bites the person, the bite is a sign of aggressiveness. Almost always, it is not. The cat is simply playing to the same level of force with which the owner is handling his/her cat.
There is one other factor. The cat lives with giants (us). Their default or fall-back emotion is defensiveness. This emotion can lead to defensive biting more readily and it can make a bite response to human handling more likely.
Cat Scratch – we can avoid them — Photo by Hodowca
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