A photo of Dr. Debra Primovic and inset photo of a cat biting a finger.

Ask Dr. Debra: How Do I Get My Cat to Stop Playing So Rough?

This Week’s Question:

How do you tactfully stop your cat from playing too rough and biting? My arms look like a war zone. She does it mainly with me and thank goodness not with the customers in my store. I’m sure I’m not helping by allowing her to play a little too rough with me. I feel there has to be a way of stopping this before it gets out of hand, and she thinks it’s alright to do it all the time. She is about a 3-4-month-old kitten.

Patricia Chase

Dr. Debra’s Answer:

Hi Patricia,

Thanks for your question!

You wrote that your cat is playing rough and biting. You are right – you may have aided this by allowing her to play too rough with you.

We have a really good article about this that may be able to help – read our Introduction to Feline Aggression.

When your cat starts playing rough, I recommend that you totally withdraw your attention. Ignore her. Walk away. When she is “playing nice,” reward her with praise or a treat.

You especially don’t want to perpetuate this if you have her exposed to your customers in a business environment.

So remember, as soon as she gets rough, stop playing with her and withdrawal your attention. Ignore her.

Most cats will learn pretty quickly what is acceptable behavior and what isn’t.

Best of luck to you and your pet!

Dr. Debra

Please note: Dr. Debra’s guidance should not be considered veterinary advice like that provided by your veterinarian, since she is unable to personally examine your pet. If you have an immediate concern or emergency, contact a veterinarian or local veterinary hospital about your specific situation.