If you have just brought home a Bengal kitten and have started to notice that they seem to like to bite, this is something that you should not actually be alarmed by, especially when it comes to cats, as opposed to dogs. In this article we’ll cover the following in the hope that it will help you better understand and react to your Bengal kitten and their biting.
Why Do Bengal Kittens Bite?
How Do You Know If It’s Play or Another Form of Aggression?
What You Should and Should Not Do About Biting?
Why Do Bengal Kittens Bite?
To begin with, it’s not just Bengal kittens that have a tendency to bite. Although, Bengal kittens do tend to bite more than most other domestic cats. However, most of the time, this really isn’t something that you should be overly concerned about. With Bengals and all kittens, biting is typically something that happens with all kittens that tend to be 18 months or younger. The biting that you will notice is usually considered play aggression. If your kitten seems to do this a little too much, consider buying some Bengal cat toys to distract them with.
Even though it may be true that the biting and the scratching that your Bengal kitten might do can hurt, typically there will be no severe damage or injury. The Cat behaviorist Jackson Galaxy once said that “If a cat wants to hurt you bad, they will hurt you.” So, just remember that even if your Bengal kitten does bite you it’s not going to be with all the force that they are actually capable of giving you.
Overall, it’s perfectly normal for a Bengal kitten to romp aggressively, scratch, and to bite when they are happy to see you and when they are playing. It’s just part of their natural behavior that mimics their wild instincts and helps to prepare them for adulthood.
Here’s a video of a small Bengal kitten playing and biting:
How Do You Know If It’s Play or Another Form of Aggression?
When playing or having any kind of interaction with your kitten always make sure to take a close look at the situation. Generally, play aggression is simply a normal part of your Bengal kitten’s behavior patterns and the process of growing up and figuring out what their limits are. However, if you are concerned about their biting ask yourself the following questions about the biting they’re exhibiting:
When your kitten is biting do they seem to be happy and playful or does your kitten seem to have signs of aggression by putting their ears back, growling, or hissing? When a kitten is being playful they usually won’t look or act like they are mad or aggressive, they should be in more of a playful attacking mode.
When does the biting happen? Do they bite you when you reach the top of stairs? Do they ambush you playfully when you walk around the corner. Does it happen when you pet them?
Do they seem angry or happy?
Always take into consideration that the Bengal cat is a strong and often times a dominant personality, even as a kitten. Even though they are quite affectionate, even as kittens, they don’t tend to be lap cats. Sometimes they will respond aggressively, especially when it comes to discipline and being handled often. This is a very interactive breed of cat and they do thrive on getting a lot of attention, in fact they seem to thrive on having company. But, they can become aggressive, even destructive because of boredom.
There are a variety of different types of cat aggression you should be aware of to make it easier for you to distinguish between play aggression and other forms.
This is the typical type of aggression seen in kittens and in young active cats, especially Bengals. But as mentioned before, this is perfectly normal, especially with kittens. This type of aggression gives them plenty of exercise and helps them practice their hunting and killing of prey skills.
This type of aggression can be directed at other animals, other cats and even against humans. This is when your cat crouches down low and then slowly moves toward the prey until they lunge forward and attacks. They learn this behavior from both their mother and litter mates/playmates. This type of aggression can actually be dangerous to humans because it can cause accidents to happen. It can also be dangerous for your cat if they pick the wrong prey to attack.
Fear & Defensive Aggression
This happens when a kitten or cat finds itself in a situation that they feel is dangerous. This could be a visit to the vet, meeting unfamiliar people or having an encounter with a dog or another cat that can lead them to fear aggression. The body language that is displayed for this kind of aggression will be the cat being hunched down low to the ground, their ears back with their legs and tail tucked into their body and their body being at an angle.
Petting Induced Aggression
This is a very common form of aggression found in cats, especially in Bengals. No doubt you may have already experienced this type of aggression. You’ll be sitting with your cat petting them when all of a sudden they turn around and either bite you or swipe at you and then runs off and hides. Most believe that there are just some cats that can only take a certain amount of petting before it makes them uncomfortable. If you are aware of your cats body language this type of aggression can be avoided.
This is a type of aggression that happens when a kitten or cat attacks a human or another animal in the area because they’ve become aroused from some kind of external stimulus like birds in the trees or another cat out in the yard.
Unlike dogs, cats are not pack animals. Yes, they may form bonds with other cats or close companions, but most cats like their own company quite a bit. Territorial aggression will happen when another animal, especially another cat comes into their territory. It can also happen when they are introduced to a new pet in the home
Medical Reasons for Aggression
Often there are medical reasons why there might be aggression. Here are a few medical issues that could cause your Bengal to be more aggressive including biting:
High blood pressure
Gum and other dental diseases
What You Should and Should Not Do About Biting
If you think that your Bengal kitten is being too aggressive with their biting and you don’t think that it’s part of their normal play behavior, there are several different things that you can try to do when it comes to curbing this type of behavior.
Redirect the Unwanted Behavior
When your Bengal kitten is biting a lot the most important thing that you can do is to divert their behavior right away. Direct their attention to one of their cat toys that they can turn and take out their aggression on. A favorite stuffed toy would be an ideal source to use to divert them away from being super aggressive with you. If that doesn’t do the trick, you should then try giving them a really loud growl and then remove them from the entire situation. You may also want to stop petting them or playing with them. Also, if you don’t like how aggressively they might be attacking you by ambushing you, try firmly and loudly telling them “No!” and then just walk away. Repeat these things whenever necessary.
Give Them Plenty of Play Time
All Bengal cats have a need to burn off their pent up energy, especially kittens. It’s also a great way for them to hone their natural hunting skills. This is why it is so extremely important to give them plenty of play time. The best way to do this is to play with them several times a day and make sure they short times of play throughout the day.
Make sure that the toys you provide are ones that are suitable for them to stalk and hunt. Really good toys for this type of play would be the wand style of toys. When playing with your Bengal kitten, you need to allow them to hunt as well as stalk the toys making sure that you just keep it out of their reach. When you are about to end the play session, make sure that you allow them to finally catch the toy. You really need a wide variety of toys for your kitten.
Each day you should consider having two or three play sessions with your kitten that shouldn’t last any longer than 15 minutes each session.
Get Your Kitten a Playmate
When it comes to Bengals, it’s often better if there are two of them. Many times the reason why your kitten may seem aggressive is because they don’t have another cat as a playmate to be able to practice their hunting skills with. If you do decide to get your kitten a playmate, it’s important that you get one that’s about the same age.
Punishment for Too Aggressive of Behavior
Many animal behaviorists will recommend that you use some sort of remote form of punishment for your kitten when they display too much play aggression. The most popular way of punishment is to use a spray bottle that you have handy and when they are biting too much then give them a quirt squirt from the bottle. Another thing you can do is to blow a whistle when they are too aggressive. The goal of this is to scare them and then this interrupts the bad behavior.
Always Reward Good Behavior
Cats most often will respond much better to receiving positive rewards rather than punishment, but who doesn’t? When your kitten is nice and calm you should reward that behavior with their favorite treat or more play time. If they bite you, then just walk away, letting them know you’re not happy with their behavior. If you do this a few times, it won’t take long for them to learn that their biting will get them totally ignored. But, if they stay calm they’ll easily learn that this is behavior that will receive a treat or extra play time.
What You Should Not Do
When your kitten starts biting too much or too hard, the one thing you should never do is to lash out at them by hitting them. This not only will scare your kitten, but it has the possible potential of backfiring and they might think that you are returning the play by hitting them.
It’s never a very good idea to use your hands as your kittens toys. Your hands should be for petting them, not for playing with. Yes, it may seem harmless enough when the kitten is very young, however, it will not be once they are stronger and larger.
So, does this help you understand better why Bengal kittens tend to bite? Please let us know what you think and feel free to leave us a comment below!
JoinThe Bengal Cat Club!
We've created a FREE Facebook community with over 500 people who love Bengal cats. This community includes Bengal Cat owners, breeders, and potential adopters. But we're missing one thing....YOU!
Get all of your questions answered from the experts.