Our feline friends are known for being feisty, independent and headstrong. Essentially, dogs and cats alike, each have their own personality and quirks that make them distinct animal beings. As pet owners, we sometimes are left wondering why pets do what they do. As an example, why do cats give love bites? Naturally, part of being a responsible pet owner is trying to understand what is behind the pet behavior, especially if have a playful new kitten. Essentially, whether you are a first-time cat owner or a seasoned cat pro, cat behavior changes can occur for a wide variety of reasons. We sat down with on-site Trupanion veterinarian, Dr. Caroline Wilde, to discuss and understand the meaning behind why cats give love bites and best practices to curb this playful cat behavior.
Cats give love bites: what do they mean
What are cat love bites?
What could be perceived as a loving gesture by our cat or new kitten, might actually be something more. “Cats can bite out of aggression, but it can also be related to misdirected play or predatory behavior,” states on-site Trupanion veterinarian, Dr. Caroline Wilde. Consider notating when your feline friend is exhibiting this behavior. For instance, if it is a certain environment, and check in with your veterinarian in regards to this behavior, and what could be the underlying concern.
Why cats give love bites: indoor vs. outdoor cat
Regardless of whether you have an indoor or outdoor cat, your feline friend could still give love bites. For instance, if your kitten has a high energy level, and has no outlet to distribute energy, this might result in a mouthy kitten. To bring to light, Wilde points out, “indoor cats don’t have many things towards to direct their energy and for lack of better substrate, can nimble on their owners. I would discourage tolerating any form of biting, and instead, reinforce playing with an appropriate object.”
Interactive and guided play
Interactive and guided play can be a wonderful resource for your cat or new kitten. In addition, finding new ways to entertain your cat, is a great way to bond with your feline friend. Further, incorporating the entire family in pet playtime can be useful for all parties to have fun, engage, and get out excess energy.
“Kittens are more playful and energetic, and therefore are more likely to bite from misdirected play,” says Wilde. Naturally, make sure to supervise children when playing or interacting with your furry friend, and always lead the interaction.
How to help your cat or kitten with excessive biting
If your cat or new kitten is prone to give love bites or bite excessively there are some key factors to consider with best practice. First and foremost, discuss your concerns with your veterinarian as there might be some underlying health issues. Additionally, directed and interactive play with the use of the enrichment and socialization tools can help curb excessive biting.
Wilde weighs in on the importance of correcting a cat from biting –
“Early socialization is key to the well-adjusted pet, and kittens should be exposed to people and handling, as well as other pets at any early age. It’s important to remember that a bite is a bite, and what is cute as a kitten, could actually be harmful when full grown. Also, cat bites can lead to serious infection, so I would discourage any form of biting, and if a break in the skin does occur, seek medical attention.”
Enrichment toys are an essential form of play that is safe and provides mental, physical, and emotional health benefits. Naturally, enrichment toys encourage safe and interactive play and is a great activity to incorporate into your daily routine.
If you wish to provide a more enriching cat-friendly pet space, consider adding the following in your home:
- Cat trees
- Scratching posts
- Interactive toys (such as a laser, toy mouse, or PetCube)
Enrichment is a fulfilling activity that can help curb anxiety and other behavioral issues.
“The best thing to do is enrich your cat’s home with safe toys, safe places to hide and retreat, and provide places for them to climb and scratch. Structured play can help dissipate your kitten’s energy and lead to a more relaxed and restful kitten,” interjects Wilde.
Why cats give love bites: awareness for all cat owners
Cats give love bites due to stress or undirected play. Further, by providing interactive and guided play, enrichment opportunities in your pet-space, and socialization your feline friend’s behavior can be curbed. Additionally, keeping your veterinarian informed of your cat’s behavior and staying on a treatment plan can provide a happy and healthy home for all.