Biting Cat - Love Bites?

by Rebecca on June 13, 2007

in Animal Training


Dear Gwen,
My newly adopted 10 month old cat bites me and won’t let me pet him. When I
try to show him affection, he just runs away. I feel disappointed because I
wanted a snuggly cat. When he first arrived, I think I might have scared him
by accidentally grabbing at him a little too roughly. He likes to play and
will always greet me when I come home. He will rub his face against mine for
a moment, but if I try to prolong it or initiate contact, he lightly bites
me or runs away. Could this be his nature or do you think I ruined our
relationship from the start? Can you train a cat to like being petted?

Lonely Lynne

Dear Lynne,
I doubt that you ruined the relationship from the start since your cat is
happy to see you when you come home. He is telling you that he likes you
when he rubs his face against yours. By running away, he is also telling you
that he likes his space and doesn’t want to be forced into being cuddly. On
the other hand, maybe he is running away in an attempt to get you to

play and chase him. He is still a very
young cat with

lots of energy.

Some cats simply do not like being petted or touched; others can be taught
to accept and even

enjoy handling. If
his ways can be changed, here’s a plan that has worked with most of my
cat/owner clients with similar problems.

1. Completely ignore Kitty. Pretend he is invisible. Take care of his
physical needs (food, water, 

box, etc) but do not talk to him, play with him or even look at him. When he
greets you when you come home – ignore him – just walk by as if he wasn’t

After anywhere from 2 days to 2 weeks of this, he should be craving your
attention and affection. He should be following you around, pestering and
begging you for attention. Withhold your attention until he is craving it.

2. Begin to give him extremely small doses of affection. When he sits on
your lap, stroke him 2 or 3 times, then get up and walk away. Gradually
increase the amount of affection you give him, but always end the session
with him wanting more. If you give him more than he needs or wants, then he
will end the cuddle session on his terms (running away or biting to make you
stop petting him). If you always leave him wanting more, then he will value
it and look forward to it more.

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