Your cat biting your boyfriend is not cute and could cause him to be sick. Expert solutions include:
Having your boyfriend feed your cat and give it treats.
Using cat-boyfriend Play Therapy on a daily basis.
Disciplining kitty with scruffing or ignoring.
Applying pheromones to cause changes in your cat’s behavior.
Pet expert, Jackson Galaxy blogged: “…with cat-to-human aggression, the roots almost always lie with the person.”
So, sorry to your boyfriend or significant other, but something about them does not agree with your cat.
As a result, your cat is biting your boyfriend or partner.
If you (and your partner) are willing to put in the time and effort, you should be able to fix this aggressive behavior.
1. Your boyfriend should prepare and serve your cat its food and treats.
We all know the saying, “Don’t bite the hand that feeds you.” In this case, I mean it literally.
Your partner should be the one to put the food in the cat’s bowl and set it into position.
In this way, your partner’s scent gets onto the bowl.
After putting the bowl down, your boyfriend should watch kitty’s reaction.
At first, your pet may not want to eat while your boyfriend is in the room. That’s ok.
Over time, your cat will associate its food (a good thing) with your boyfriend and be less likely to bite him.
Rewarding with treats
As a first step, have your significant other toss a treat towards the cat from a distance.
Over time, decrease the distance between the two of them.
Biting the person who gives you treats is not logical—even for cats.
2. Use Play Therapy
Cats need time to stalk, pounce, scratch, and bite. These are natural activities that they have to practice.
Play Therapy gives your cat the opportunity to do this in a controlled way so no one gets bitten.
Another advantage to Play Therapy is that it gives your cat the attention it may be lacking.
Caleb cox on Pets.StackExchange mentioned that their cat bites as a cry for attention.
When the cat rubs his head on Caleb, then gets petted but feels it isn’t enough, the cat will bite Caleb, drawing blood.
Obviously, it is going to be your bitten boyfriend who is playing with the cat, right?
Rule #1: Human hands are never toys.
This is probably the biggest mistake that people make when playing with cats—and they have the scars to prove it.
Remote Toys (No)
Definition: toys that can be thrown and played fetch with (some cats do play fetch).
Examples: catnip mice, small cat balls
These are not the toys to use for Play Therapy because they usually do not keep cats’ interest for long periods of time.
Interactive Toys (Yes)
Definition: toys that are connected to and operated by you and keep cats’ interest for long periods of time.
Examples: basically anything that is a stick with a string and a toy or treat at the end
Interactive toys should be used for Play Therapy.
You can google names such as Cat Dancers, Cat Charmers, Cat Wands, and Da Bird (perhaps the item most loved by cats).
However, with a few basic supplies, you can make your own interactive toys.
This saves money because interactive cat toys get destroyed quite quickly after just a few Play Therapy sessions.
It is a good idea to make 3-4 different wands. First, you’ll always have one to play with. Second, your cat will have variety and less boredom.
Make your own cat wand
- one (1) ‘half an arm’s-length’ stick from outside
- strong string, yarn, or baker’s twine
- an assortment of dangly things such as feathers, ribbons/edging
- white glue
- Put some white glue on your stick from the tip of one end to about halfway down.
- Wrap your string around the gluey stick, leaving a free end of about 10-12 inches (25-30 cm).
- Securely tie your dangly things to the free end.
NOTE: Never use things that could easily get stuck in your cat’s throat. Bells, for example, are very popular but are a definite no-no.
1. Cats like structure. So, set up a play routine.
It’s best to play for about 20-30 minutes every day at the same time.
A routine of half an hour before the family’s dinner or bedtime often works well.
2. Try to mimic the behavior of real prey.
Your cat needs time to observe, stalk, and pounce. Kitty should not get lucky each time.
At the beginning, you can play in the open such as the center of the room.
To vary things and keep the cat interested, have the toy move behind and under chairs, tables, couches, etc.
Praise kitty each time it ‘catches’ its prey.
Watch experts demonstrating Play Therapy here.
3. End the Play Therapy session with food.
In nature, the cat would have eaten what it hunted and killed.
Your hunt-kill-eat cycle can end with a cat snack that is high in protein, wet, and tasty.
Full meals are not encouraged.
4. Between sessions, hide the interactive toy.
Choose a place that your cat can’t get to or see into.
This is when my colleague, Ian found Archie trying to get his favorite toy off a shelf at 2 am.
As your pet gets used to the routine, it will look forward to playing with your boyfriend and, hopefully, stop biting him.
In fact, as soon as it sees the toy come out, your cat will behave enthusiastically since it has associated good things with this activity: fun use of energy, praise, tasty treat.
3. Discipline your cat to stop the ‘love bites.’
A person on Pets.StackExchange posted that his cat only bites his girlfriend. Even more strangely, the cat will choose to come to the girlfriend for petting, be petted and be happy about it, and then bite her.
One of the people who answered told about their cat who showed its love by biting. The biting was soft, though, and never broke the skin.
The person went on to explain that this is ok with them but still, they keep an eye on the biting level. If the bite ever gets a little too hard, they discipline their cat.
Well-known Quora posters, Barbara Holladay-Vernon and Pat Lisenbee agreed that feline ‘love bites’ are normal but that the cat should be disciplined so it doesn’t continue to do that.
Your cat biting your boyfriend is not ok. It is not cute nor in any way acceptable.
Communicate this to your pet in no uncertain terms.
Here are some researched discipline suggestions to try:
II. Mimic a mother cat’s reaction by scruffing the cat.
How to scruff a cat:
- Grasp kitty by the scruff of the neck (the loose-ish skin at the back of its neck).
- Use your grasp to hold the cat firmly to the ground.
- Say ‘No’ in a very firm voice.
- Continue for 3-4 seconds and then let the cat go.
III. Ignore the cat for the next ten minutes…and ignore means ignore: no scolding, no lecturing, no paying attention to them in any way, shape, or form.
When cats play and the situation gets too aggressive, the ‘victim’ usually meows and runs away.
So, through your boyfriend ignoring it, the cat learns that if it wants to have a longer play session, it must change its behavior.
4. Use pheromones to make your cat stop biting your boyfriend.
Pheromones are secreted chemicals. That means they are external scents (smells which we can smell).
They have the power to make organisms change their behavior.
For example, pheromones can signal danger or food. They can define a territory and create a mother-offspring bond.
The cat’s own pheromones
Put a clean sock over your hand or use a soft, clean rag.
Gently rub the sock or rag around your cat’s mouth. You will collect the ‘friendly’ pheromones stored in the scent glands there.
Rub the pheromone-coated sock or rag on furniture and possessions used by your partner who is getting bitten.
Repeat several more times on different days with different socks or rags.
Having its ‘friendly’ scent on your boyfriend and his things will signal to your cat that all is well, no need to bite.
Quite a few companies make synthetic, copycat pheromones which are said to calm cats down and stop them from biting.
Do commercial pheromones work?
There is some scientific evidence that they do.
This study used pheromones to reduce cats spraying (peeing) inside the house in places they should not.
Another study showed that pheromones can reduce the aggression between cats living in the same house.
Which commercial pheromones are best?
I spent some time looking at this question.
One of the company names which comes up a lot is Feliway.
The second study above (link) used pheromones produced by Feliway. This study found that Feliway pheromones were effective.
However, they don’t always seem to work.
A review of the scientific literature by a veterinarian turned up a few studies which appeared to show that the Feliway pheromones were not effective.
Compared to the seriousness of your cat biting your boyfriend, trying out these pheromones is not a big investment financially or effort-wise.
So, they are probably worth a try.
5. Perhaps the cat knows something about your boyfriend that you don’t
An interesting article told the stories of six people.
Each of the six had a pet (cat or dog) which accurately judged the character of an important person in these people’s lives.
One woman was dating two men and couldn’t decide between the two. Her cat loved Guy A and got all ‘hissy’ around Guy B.
One day, she overheard Guy B calling her cat a b*tch. Decision made!
Another story told about a guy who brought in his new puppy to show off at work (since he didn’t have a new baby to show off like his female colleagues).
When the puppy went over to his boss, instead of licking her hand like he had the other co-workers, he growled at her.
A week later, the boss and the guy had a not-so-nice encounter.
Read more of the stories here.
Brittany Nicole Ribeiro, a widely viewed Quora poster, shared another example of cats having good judgement about people.
Brittany raised the runt of her boyfriend’s mother’s cat’s litter because no one wanted it. The cat, JJ loved only her.
Over time, JJ stopped showing affection to Brittany’s boyfriend and did not let the BF pick him up.
This judgement proved itself a little while later when the BF cheated on Brittany and got violent with her over the fact that she was pregnant with his child and wanted to keep it (he didn’t).
Brittany says her cat “saw something in my bf that I was [too] blind to see.”
Is your cat sensing something negative about your boyfriend that has not yet been revealed?
6. Could it be that your cat is just pre-tasting the menu?
I came across a cat behaviorist who is always answering idiosyncratic (quirky) questions from people.
She gave the example of the question: “Will your pet eat you when you die?” and said that if you search for this on Google, you will see over 400 million hits.
Even stranger, the answer to this question is ‘Yes.’
Researchers investigating the decomposition of human bodies (how dead bodies rot) stumbled upon the fact that cats will eat human remains (dead bodies).
[Before you get totally grossed out, this type of study is a very important part of forensic science. Data from these studies are vital to effective police investigations.
Knowing how bodies rot can give vital clues in foul play deaths such as murders.]
As the researchers measured the decomposition of a body, a cat entered the area and began eating it.
To continue the research, the researchers put a cage around the body, but once the cage was removed, the same cat continued eating the body over the next month.
Another cat then joined in. The two cats continued eating the same body over a period of six weeks even though there were other dead bodies in the area: old bodies left and new bodies were added.
This is not the only study that documents animals eating humans…even pets eating their dead owners.
Word to the wise: be buried in a pet-proof container.
In the bite or scratch of a cat can be the bacteria Bartonella henselae. This bacteria can cause cat scratch fever.
Roughly 3-14 days after the infected bite or scratch, bumps or blisters can appear on the person’s arms, hands, head, and/or scalp.
Any lymph nodes near these bumps/blisters can feel tender or swollen.
Other symptoms include a sore throat, fever, tiredness, joint pain, headache, pain in the abdomen, and loss of appetite.
Another symptom is differences in vision. (More about that in a minute…)
Diagnosis and treatment
A blood test confirms the presence of the bacteria.
Then, appropriate antibiotics are given.
I mention cat scratch fever because…
This past summer, the older of my two daughters kept feeling like she had the flu.
Her young kids always bring home colds and coughs from nursery school and first grade, so she thought she was just not giving her body enough time to recover.
This continued for about a month and a half until one day, she woke up and found that she couldn’t see well…even when she put her glasses on.
She immediately went to the eye doctor who sent her straight away to the hospital.
An examination showed that the blood vessels in her eyes were swollen, causing the change in vision.
After a few very scary days, we found out that she had cat scratch fever.
Their cat, Julius does scratch and bite sometimes, but it is playful and not very aggressive.
Since the bacteria had the chance to ‘have fun’ and multiply for many days, they were able to make their way to my daughter’s eyes—we found out that the eyes are one of their favorite areas as it turns out.
Several weeks of antibiotics later, my daughter and her vision were back to normal.
The cat was tested and did have the bacteria (more antibiotics for the cat), but the children and her husband tested negative.
So, take your cat biting your boyfriend seriously!
Writer: Lisa Aharon