Catfights become inevitable when a feline is in regular contact with other cats. They may not happen regularly but seeing this behavior and any resulting injuries can be very scary for a pet parent! What is more concerning is when your feline friend repetitively shows aggressive behaviors, such as biting.
You may have noticed your cat bites your other cat’s neck and wonder what’s causing this behavior. Neck biting can become very common if you own more than one feline, and the constant fear that one of your kitties will hurt the other is very unpleasant to live with.
Even though my cat is very friendly, she has shown this aggressive behavior in the past. So, is it something you should worry about? There are many reasons why your furry friend may regularly bite another cat’s neck, but thankfully, not all of them are harmful.
In this article, I will cover the top ten reasons behind this behavior and whether or not you should try and prevent it from happening in the future. I’ll also cover five ways to reduce aggressive biting in your feline. Read on for all you need to know!
Reasons Your Cat Bites Your Other Cat’s Neck
Have you noticed that your feline often bites other cats? I recently observed this behavior in my own cat, and I was very confused as to why my cat is so aggressive all of a sudden. Thankfully, after a bit of research, I found that it is common for cats to bite each other on the neck. While some bites are aggressive, many aren’t harmful at all and are instead a sign of play and socialization.
Below are ten common causes of this seemingly aggressive behavior. Many causes only occur during particular scenarios, such as when a male cat is in heat, all of which I will cover below. Understanding the difference between these reasons is essential so that any aggressive biting can be stopped before a catfight breaks out.
Hopefully, by the time you have finished this article, you will have a greater idea of what may be behind your kitty’s biting and whether or not this behavior is considered harmful and should be stopped.
1. Play Fighting
One of the most common traits of kittens is their playful nature. While adorable in some contexts, this play can also mimic certain hunting behaviors, such as pouncing, clawing, stalking, jumping, and, of course, biting. Play fighting allows your feline to practice the skills that, in the past, would have been essential to their survival when they reached adulthood.
In most cases, your furry friend will outgrow this behavior as they get older, but this isn’t always the case, especially if your felines grow up together. As long as your cat doesn’t seem to be showing real aggression towards the other cat, this behavior is nothing to worry about; they are just play fighting.
However, if your kitty does seem overly aggressive and sometimes draws blood, you should be concerned, as this can no longer be classed as playing. It is likely one of the other reasons in this list is at play instead.
2. Mating Behavior
Unlike with humans, the mating behavior of cats can seem very aggressive. When male cats go into heat, they will seek out a female to mate with. During the act, the female cat will often be very vocal and attempt to escape and attack the male, as mating can cause her pain. To protect himself, the tom bites the female’s neck, as this helps keep her in place and makes her instinctively hold still.
Mating behavior is most commonly seen between a male and female and is more likely to occur if the tom is unneutered. However, these behaviors are sometimes seen after a feline has been neutered and can occur between cats of the same sex.
If you think this is the cause of your feline’s biting, you may be wondering, “When is it too late to neuter a cat?”. Thankfully, the surgery can be performed at any age as long as your kitty is in good health. Unfortunately, it cannot be guaranteed that this will stop your cat’s biting, as some neutered males will bite other cats to relieve the frustration of no longer being able to mate.
3. Asserting Dominance
Hierarchy is incredibly important to cats, especially within their home. Felines like to be the ones in charge of their territory and use certain behaviors to assert dominance over those they live with. For example, hissing is normal when introducing cats as it is their way of warning away the intruder.
This is also true when a cat doesn’t recognize a feline they already know. In fact, it is pretty common to see a cat hissing at another cat after vet visits due to the unfamiliar smell.
If you have just introduced a new cat to your home or one of your furry friends has been to an unfamiliar location, your other feline may have started to bite their neck to establish that they are the more dominant of the two. The reason they choose the neck as their point of attack is that it is easily accessible, and it fits in with a feline’s natural hunting instincts.
Dominating behaviors are most commonly seen between two male cats that are strangers to one another. However, the instinct to assert dominance can still occur between felines that are familiar with each other.
As long as neither of your kitties appear to be in pain, this type of biting isn’t really a cause for concern. Just watch out if you think your dominant cat is bullying the other, as this could lead to a catfight in the future.
Have you ever been stroking your kitty and had them turn around and bite you when a second before they had been purring in contentment? This has happened to me in the past, and I was often confused as to why my cat attacking me all of a sudden. The answer to this is overstimulation.
Overstimulation occurs when a cat has been petted for too long. Their biting is their way of telling you to back off, rather than them suddenly deciding to attack you. Usually, this will just be a small nip, and is no need for concern.
Sometimes, your feline may display this behavior towards another cat as well. This most commonly occurs when your cat is being groomed; the feline doing the grooming has overstimulated them, so your kitty bites their neck to tell them they have had enough.
5. Grooming Behavior
When living together, cats often help each other to groom. Unfortunately, this grooming behavior often includes biting by both the one being groomed (see above) and the one doing the grooming.
Chewing on dirty patches of fur is a common method that cats use to clean themselves and others. It may be that the feline being groomed merely has a large patch of dirt on its neck that your kitty is trying to get rid of. Alternatively, your feline may be telling the other cat to stay still: this is a method used by mothers when grooming their kittens and may be instinctually used on other cats as well.
Unless one of the cats is obviously in pain, this biting is nothing to worry about. The fact that your furry friends are grooming each other actually suggests that they are affectionate towards one another! They’re looking after each other and showing they care.
6. Hunting Instincts
The neck is one of the most vulnerable places on any animal as this is where the jugular vein is located. Because of this, predators instinctually aim for the throat when attacking prey. Although they are domesticated, many cats will still feel the need to hunt and may practice on other felines if they don’t have another option (e.g., toys).
These hunting instincts are more likely displayed in kittens, as this is the optimum time for them to try and hone their skills. In addition, certain breeds of cats, such as Bengal, Egyptian Mau, and Sphynx, tend to have stronger hunting instincts and are, therefore, more likely to exhibit this behavior.
In most cases, this form of biting is harmless and is seen as a natural part of growing up. However, some cats can get carried away, so keep an eye out if your furry friend seems to be acting particularly aggressive or if the attacked cat shows signs of injury.
7. Resource Competition
Do your cats have to share their food, water, and litter trays with each other? If so, your felines may bite each other on the neck due to resource competition.
When sharing basic resources, cats often become aggressive and dominant in order to claim and protect the resources they need. This usually occurs in the form of biting but can also be accompanied by hissing and yowling. If the situation isn’t resolved, it may even lead to catfights.
The easiest way to prevent this behavior is to provide each kitty with their own bowls, litter trays, toys, and anything else they may want or need. These resources should be kept in different areas of the house so that each cat clearly has their own space.
8. Medical Conditions
Although uncommon, it is possible that your cat’s neck biting is the result of an underlying medical condition. Your feline friend may be aggressive towards another cat due to the pain they are in or as a way of warning them away while they are ill.
Another sign that your kitty is hurting is uncharacteristic hissing. For example, I found my cat hissing at me all of a sudden and then later found out that she was suffering from arthritis. Cats often act more aggressively to protect themselves while they are more vulnerable.
Hormonal imbalances, hyperthyroidism, cognitive dysfunction, and rabies are all medical conditions that can cause your cat to act more aggressively. If you think your kitty may have a health issue, make sure to take them to see your vet as soon as possible so that they can receive the treatment they need.
9. Lack of Socialization
A cat that suffers from a lack of socialization is more likely to act aggressively towards others. Ideally, cats should start to socialize between the age of two to seven weeks. If they don’t learn to be comfortable and engage in appropriate behaviors with other animals and people when they are young, you are more likely to see aggressive biting when they are older.
Biting and hissing at unknown people and cats could be your feline’s way of trying to scare intruders away from their territory. It may also be that your furry friend never learned how to interact with other cats, resulting in inappropriate behavior. For example, they may bite too hard during play or attack when another cat gets too close.
If your cat is aggressively biting another’s neck, it is important to try and stop the harmful behavior. Socializing your kitty slowly and rewarding appropriate behavior are likely to help.
10. Fear Aggression
In many cases, your cat will act aggressively towards another when they are scared. This is especially true if your feline friend can’t escape the cause of their fear.
A lack of socialization or punishment associated with another cat can both lead to fear aggression. However, a one-off bad experience, such as a catfight with a stranger, can also cause this response. Your kitty will bite and attack the other feline in order to protect themselves from the perceived threat.
If your furry friend always bites the neck of another cat when in a similar situation and shows other signs of fear (e.g., flattened ears and crouching), fear aggression is likely the cause. This can lead to injury of the attacked cat, so it is important to try and reduce this behavior. Try slowly introducing your feline to the feared situation over time so that they learn they are safe.
How To Stop Aggressive Biting
If you think your furry friend is being overly aggressive when biting another feline, it is important that you try and stop the behavior to minimize injury to the attacked cat. Below are five ways that could help reduce this aggressive biting. If in doubt, make an appointment to talk to your vet as they may be able to advise you about other solutions, such as neutering.
- Socialization: Cats that have never socialized properly tend to be more aggressive towards others. This aggressive behavior then causes the feline to be kept from other cats, further increasing the problem. Instead, let your feline explore the scent of other cats and slowly work up to introducing them to another kitty.
- Separate Resources: Forcing cats to share their resources can lead to unneeded tension which will eventually result in aggression. By providing each of your furry friends with their own bowls, beds, toys, and litterboxes, you can significantly reduce the chances of a catfight. Allowing each cat to have a “safe zone” can also help reduce fear-fueled aggression.
- Provide Stimulation: When a cat is bored, they are more likely to show unwanted behaviors to keep themselves entertained. Unfortunately, this can include biting. Providing your kitty with toys and a cat tree can go a long way in keeping your feline entertained and allows them to practice their hunting on something other than their fellow housemates.
- Slow Introductions: Felines can be very territorial, and so the introduction of another cat into their home can result in aggression. To make the transition easier on your kitty, start the cats off in different areas of the home and allow them to slowly get used to each other before allowing them to interact.
- No Punishment: Punishing unwanted behaviors can make matters worse when you are dealing with an aggressive feline. In these situations, rewarding desirable behaviors will go much further in altering their habits. For example, you could give your kitty a treat when they behave pleasantly around your other cats.
MY FINAL THOUGHTS
Although it can be alarming to see your furry friend biting another cat, it is a common behavior that is often harmless and is no cause for concern. There are many reasons why a cat bites other cat’s neck, including overstimulation, play fighting, and a lack of socialization.
In this article, I covered ten of the most likely causes behind your kitty’s biting habit. Hopefully, you now have a clearer idea of why your feline is acting this way. In most cases, the biting is considered normal, and no action is needed.
However, severe biting can be harmful and should be taken seriously. Try socializing your kitty and rewarding their good behavior. Alternatively, calming collars do work for cats and can be used to stop their biting habit. If in doubt, speak to your vet, as they can advise you on the best way to reduce your cat’s aggression.