Categories: cat bite

Should we play with our cats like kittens do?

It occurred to me that when kittens play they discover the limits of their aggression towards other kittens. They can play quite roughly and if a kitten is bitten too hard she complains with a scream. The kitten who did the biting takes heed of the scream and learns the limits of her aggression during play. You could argue that it is part of the socialisation process.

Kittens social playing. Photograph: Melanie DeFazio/Stocksy United

Humans play with their cats and sometimes it goes wrong because the cat goes a bit too far (perhaps because the human has gone too far) and bites the person’s hand or the arm or some other part of the person’s anatomy. Also petting can lead to feline petting aggression if the petting goes too far or the cat has had enough. It might not be a very hard bite but if the person doesn’t like it perhaps they should scream too.

In other words, it might be a good strategy if the cat’s human caretaker shrieks theatrically like kittens do when bitten. This may achieve two objectives, (1) distracts the cat so they stop biting and loosen their grip and (2) teaches them that they’ve bitten too hard and that you don’t like it.

Picture for illustrative purposes only. This is a cat in play. Photo in public domain.

It is a gentle way of training a cat I would suggest. I do it myself in various ways but I think the key element of this is to make it clear to your cat that you are upset about being bitten and the body language should demonstrate that you are upset as well. Cats can read a person’s body language in my opinion. And I think cats learn from the combination of body language and the theatrical shriek.

It’s just an idea that came to me as a way to train a cat. You might not like it but certain aspects of feline behaviour need to be trained in order to make the animal-human relationship more successful.


Domestic cats love snow and ice

Domestic cats love snow and ice because it is something different. Perhaps it isn't something different to cats living in ...
Read More

What happens if I don’t play with my cat?

In general, domestic cat need to express predatory behaviour. In other words they need to hunt to feel normal. A ...
Read More

Difference between cats playing and fighting

I can understand the problem in differentiating between cats playing and fighting. It can be difficult, on the face of ...
Read More

Cat to human – ‘Sorry bud that’s my mouse now’

This is very typical of the domestic cat. Being serious for a minute, this is not about the cat preventing ...
Read More

When my cat does “Turbo Kitty” and races around, is she entertaining herself?

This is an example of what people call the "cat crazies". Your cat is entertaining herself but primarily she is ...
Read More

Kitten carried in jacket hood plays with girl’s ponytail (video)

A girl is carrying her young cat around in what appears to be the hood of her jacket. It almost ...
Read More

The Holy Grail of Playing with Your Cat

The Holy Grail of playing with your cat is to achieve the situation in which your cat growls when she ...
Read More
Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 71-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I have a girlfriend, Michelle. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare.

Recent Posts

Birdfeeder placement to help avoid attack by cats

I can think of two instances (but there are many more) of exposing, through good…

3 hours ago

My neighbour’s cat asks to be let in all the time, so is he neglected?

It is not uncommon for neighbourhood cats to want to visit neighbour's homes. You won't…

8 hours ago

Radon gas increases the chance of your cat getting lung cancer

Background Radon gas is a mysterious substance which appears to be all around us, all…

9 hours ago

12 facts about the Nebelung cat

Here are 12 listed facts about the Nebelung cat. I hope you find them useful.…

22 hours ago

21 reasons to take your cat to the vet

Here is a list of reasons to take your cat to the vet. Richard H.…

1 day ago

Panicking man, giggling woman and complacent cats fail to catch a terrified mouse

I can understand the minor chaos caused by a mouse brought into the home by…

1 day ago