Cats usually use meowing as their primary form of communication, but others such as Birman cats might use biting just as much. By reading their body language and considering the situation, it's not always that difficult to figure out the reason why.
However, I once had a Birman cat that had started to bite quite randomly. With some research, I was able to learn much more about my Birman cat's body language, her different type of bites, and most importantly what they all meant.
Do Birman Cats Bite? They might bite on occasion, but these bites are usually ‘love bites’, which are signs of affection. However, this depends on the situation, because there are several other possibilities of what type of bite it could be and what it could mean.
Read on to learn more about your Birman cat's body language and bites, and how to prevent aggressive behavior.
Different types of Birman cat bites
Not every bite is the same and in order to understand your Birman cat better, you should know why your cat is biting you.
- Affectionate love bites
- Playful bites
- Aggressive bites
This type of bite could be the one that varies the most, depending on the scenario.
For example, a Birman cat which gives you a soft bite in the morning is probably just telling you they want to be fed. In most other cases your cat is trying to tell you that they want some attention and to play or cuddle.
On the other hand, if you notice the biting happens randomly during playtime or during cuddles, and would suddenly change their mood this is due to overstimulation.
It is not uncommon for a cat to suddenly decide that they've had enough and they want to be left alone.
However, if the biting continues without any notion of what could be causing it, perhaps your Birman is feeling ill or in pain. It would be best to contact your veterinarian to check that everything is fine.
Otherwise, try to consider if your cat has gone through anything possibly ‘traumatic', such as moving house, a new member joining the household, or being left alone too often. (Seriously, read here how often, and how long, you can leave them alone and what might help you if you are a working person.)
This is most likely the cause of unexplainable biting, and your Birman may blame you, especially in the case of loneliness, or is just trying to communicate that there is a problem.
Affectionate love bites
Soft bites, which don't puncture the skin, are most commonly known as ‘love bites'. The name is quite fitting, as they are signs of love and affection.
Some Birman cats may have this instinct to give small nips, usually when they feel overexcited or are feeling a strong bond with their owner.
Birman cats often use this as another form of communication, to let you know that they want attention, and these bites can even occur during a play session.
At the same time, they could also be trying to tell you that they're tired of playing, or whatever it is that you're doing, and to stop or they aren't in the mood for being handled and want to be put down.
By paying close attention to your cat's body language, you should easily be able to tell if they are being more aggressive rather than affectionate.
Biting and scratching are natural instincts for cats as defense, and it's normal to do so during play time.
Claws and teeth are the only tools cats have to dominate and defeat their ‘prey', prey meaning not only birds or insects but also their balls, feathers, and other toys.
It is not recommended to use your hands to play with your Birman cat, especially when they are kittens, as this will teach them that hands are toys – irrelevant if they're being used during playtime or not.
If anyone has been using their hands to play with your Birman, this would be a solid explanation for erratic biting.
In order to stop this, be sure that no one in the family uses their hands to play, and only use their toys, and your Birman will eventually learn by note of and remembering your positive reactions.
Bites which puncture the skin and draw blood are definitely not friendly. For whatever reason, your Birman has had enough.
Ears back or flicking, teeth bared, growling, and thumping their tail are some signs which definitely all mean ‘go away and leave me alone'.
The most common cause of an aggressive bite would be overstimulation, which can happen randomly after too much play or affection.
Most Birman cats really don't mind belly rubs or being held, but it can still vary with personality.
Cats can see and hear things that humans can’t or simply don’t notice, so a random aggressive bite could also happen because your Birman cat got frightened or startled by something.
However, if your Birman cat keeps biting you whenever you touch a particular area, it would be best to contact your vet and make sure everything is fine.
Beware Of Infections
Some bites, especially aggressive ones, can cause infection.
Bites and scratches spread a bacterial infection called cat-scratch disease (CSD), which is caused by the bacteria known as Bartonella henselae, and are spread when an infected cat breaks the skin when biting, or licks an open wound.
Symptoms, such as headache, fatigue, fever, and loss of appetite, would begin to show after around 3-14 days.
The wound would also be swollen, painful and possibly have pus. If your Birman has given you an aggressive bite, immediately wash the wound with warm water and soap.
Most people who have been infected by CSD recover without treatment, unless it is severe in which case antibiotics would be given to you by your doctor.
Your Birman could get infected with B. henselae from flea bites or flea droppings entering any wounds they might have.
Kittens less than a year old are more prone to this infection than adult cats. It is important to note that if your cat has this infection, it would show no sign of illness and could appear as completely healthy.
How To Prevent Getting Bitten
If your Birman is biting aggressively, but has been checked and doesn't have any illness or pain, stop engaging in whatever you're doing.
If you're playing or petting and it bites, just stop and leave them be and they should calm down.
When your Birman was a kitten, it learned how far it could go when it comes to biting, through testing boundaries.
Kittens play fight with each other, and after noticing a negative response, it would learn how much is too hard.
So when your Birman is still young, be sure to show your kitten this by saying ‘ouch' or simply ‘no' firmly.
I actually instinctively say ‘ow!' when my kitten hurts me, and he always stops whatever he was doing immediately.
Other owners have also resulted in giving their cat the cold shoulder and ignoring them for a little while, or by gently holding them by the scruff for a few seconds to show dominance.
Positive reinforcement should never be absent when you're trying to teach anything to your Birman cat.
Be sure to reward your cat with treats whenever they are good, such as when you brush them or trim their nails, and not tolerate any bad behavior, especially biting, from the very beginning.
Are Birman Cats Prone to any Diseases? Birman cats are relatively healthy, but common health concerns would be kidney disease, as well as obesity and the heart condition hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.
Are Birman cats Friendly? Yes, Birman cats are generally very calm and affectionate. They enjoy playing and easily make friends with other pets and children.
Are my Children Safe with my Birman cat? Yes, Birman cats are usually very friendly and affectionate, so you shouldn’t need to worry. So long as the introduction of children or other pets is done with care, and your Birman is treated kindly, there should be no issues.