How Do I Stop a New Cat Biting Me?

by Frances
(Selkirk, Scotland)

My cat problems are with a new male cat I've just adopted. He has just been neutered and he is 6 years old. After a couple of days he has taken to biting us usually when he is being petted - there is no warning and he seems to be happy to be petted and then he bites! These bites are usually not too severe, just a nip.

I picked him up the other day to stop a face off between my existing male cat (I have been keeping them apart up to now to allow him to settle in) and whilst carrying him away he bit me extremely hard causing severe pain. He didn't growl or hiss at me he just sank his teeth in to the bone.

How do I stop him wanting to bite me?

Reply from Liz (Editor): These types of cat problems are fairly common, and fortunately there are things you can do about it.

Nipping during petting: The amount of petting that cats enjoy varies greatly between them. Some are quite happy to sit on your knee for hours and can't get enough petting, others will only tolerate it for short amounts of time.

It may be that your new cat falls into the latter category, or he's temporarily falling into it whilst he's settling in ad getting used to you.

If you observe his body language, I'm sure you'll be able to see some sign(s) that he's getting fed up before he actually bites. Maybe a swishing tail, ears going back, tensing up, stopping purring etc. At this stage, I'd suggest you stop petting him and, if necessary, get him off your knee. Here's some more detailed advice on this:

Cat Aggression During Petting

Biting you when you've taken him away from your other cat: Your new cat is still settling in - he's in a strange environment and is having to contend with your other, already established cat. The two of them, at this stage, will still be trying to work out who is dominant.

As they're getting used to each other, there very likely will be a few face-offs between them. Usually these are mainly vocal, with maybe a quick whack on the head. If they get worse than this - i.e. if a real fight breaks out - you may need to intervene, but if it's mainly "show" (which is a lot more likely), it's best to just let the spats happen. I know this is really difficult, but they have to go through the process of establishing their hierarchy, and trying to stop this can actually make the process take longer.

I think your cat bit you because he was fired up towards an "argument" with your other cat, and redirected his aggression towards you. If you need to physically pick him up again to remove him from your other cat, I'd recommend just picking him up around his shoulders (i.e. letting all his legs dangle) with his head facing forwards. Don't try to cuddle him or hold him against you.

Just in case he bites you really hard again, here's some important information on cat bites.

I hope this helps and best of luck with solving these cat problems.

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