When cats are playful, they sometimes get rough. Rough play includes swatting at hands and feet and biting. Rough play might be cute when they are kittens, but adult cats are capable to causing injury to owners if this behavior is not dealt with.
The first thing to know is if the behavior is rough play or actual aggression. Examining body language is key. Cats frequently have their mouths half open during play, they also often pounce or hop sideways. Cats also tend to play quietly. If their posture is more rigid and they are hissing and spitting, then they are not playing but displaying aggressive behavior.
One thing to keep in mind when dealing with rough play is to not physically punish the cat. If you hit or smack the cat, it can turn his or her rough play into actual aggression. That, or he or she may interpret it as play and continue the rough behavior. Instead, when the cat begins to play rough, disengage. End the game and leave the room. Do not move the cat as this can provoke more aggression.
You can also try focusing the cat’s playful energy to another object or toy, something that is more acceptable for their behavior. Provide a variety of toys to see which one your cat prefers and use those when the cat gets energetic.
Playing with a cat is essential to help the cat get enough exercise and stay healthy. However, rough play is no fun and needs to be addressed when it happens.