Why Does My Cat Bite?

There you are giving all of your love and attention to your cat when, all of a sudden, you are rewarded by a sudden pounce. Next thing you know your "loving" cat has just sunk its teeth and claws into your hand. But why would your cat bite you? Does your cat hate you?

The answer is no, your cat does not hate you. In fact, it can be quite the opposite! The biting that your feline friend is partaking in is commonly called “love biting". Your cat is actually attempting to communicate with you, they are trying to tell you something with a cat bite. But what?

Cat sleeping on lap
Cat bite on hand

The answer is not straight forward. Your cat may be trying to tell you a number of things:

Why Does My Cat Bite?

  • Love biting can be playful, particularly with kittens. If your cat doesn’t have another feline playmate, they may play aggressively with you. This can result in playful "love bites".
  • Your cat may use biting to assert dominance and respond to threats. In the home, your cat may be biting you because they are showing you who is in charge.
  • Cats love affection, but not too much. Try not to smother your cat. At times your cat may feel irritated by being petted. In this situation the cat may nip or lightly bite the person petting him. They will then jump up and run off.
    • Although this type of aggression isn’t well understood, behaviorists think that physical contact, like stroking, can quickly become unpleasant if it’s repeated over and over.
Cat growling
Cat bite on hand
  • If your cat is aggressively agitated (by an animal or person he can’t get at), they will re-direct their aggression. If they cannot get to the trigger of their agitation, they will lash out at someone (person, dog or cat) who is nearby, that will often be you!
  • Biting may be due to health issues. If your cat isn't normally aggressive, then an attack may be a sign that they’re in pain.

Tips To Prevent Your Cat Biting:

  • Avoid eye-contact with your cat if they are in an 'aggressive' mode. Staring at your cat increases feelings of aggression and can provoke an attack. Alternatively, looking away from your cat calms them and prevents potential biting. 
  • Slowly blink at your cat, especially if your cat is nervous. This relaxes your gaze and tells your cat that you are non-confrontational.
  • Do not punish your cat.
  • Play with your cat - play stimulates a cats brain, it makes them feel good and it relaxes them. Some great toys to use to play with your cat are laser lights, feathers, and toy mice.
cat playing with feather ball
  • Spend time with your cat - let them sit on your lap, pet them and spend time playing with them. 
  • If your cat demonstrates signs of aggression whilst you are together, it’s important that you end the play time. Over time, you should be able to end your sessions before your cat becomes aggressive. For example, if you pet your cat for five minutes before she starts nipping, stop petting her after four-minutes the next time. Cat behaviorists recommend leaving your cat 'wanting more'. Stop petting your cat while they are still enjoying it, it breaks the cycle of your cat ending a patting session in a negative way.
  • Use Feliway to relax your cat. Feliway is a synthetic feline pheromone that helps your cat feel safe and secure. It can greatly help cats who are anxious or nervous. It is available as a plug-in diffuser or room spray. 

If you have a question about your cat and their biting habits just calll into your local Petworld Store where our helpful and knowledgeable staff will be happy to help and answer your questions.