Home Cat Behavior Why Is My Cat Biting Me When I Pet Them?

Why Is My Cat Biting Me When I Pet Them?

by Modi Ramos
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We’ve all been there before. You’re lovingly stroking your cat, admiring their infinite beauty, when all of a sudden those claws come out and they react by way of razor sharp fangs. But have you ever wondered why does your cat bite you when you pet them? I’ve got the prime possibilities for you below.

Everything is on their terms, duh!

Your cat dictates their preferences, and we simply must follow suit. Obviously our cats do not have the ability to speak to us in a language in which we can understand. So when your cat bites you when you pet them, this is their way of saying that they’ve tired of what you’re doing. Your cat is easily stimulated, as their sense of touch is much more heightened than our own. If you’ve ever noticed that your cat bites you when you pet the base of their tail, this is because the nerve endings there are especially sensitive. Has your cat ever bit you when you’ve pet their belly? Well, that’s because cats do not like you to do that! Pretty much all cats can agree, do not pet my belly… that is, unless, you want your cat to bite you when you pet them!

Carefully watch your cat as you are petting them to assure that you are not causing them to become overstimulated. Cats are highly sensitive beings and remain on full alert at all times. When you are petting your cat, this should be something that relaxes them and does not stress them out.

Love bites, literally

While we would not bite our significant others to show them that we love them, we must remember cats are not humans. Your cat might ever-so-gently love bite you–without piercing through the skin–to show you that they care.

According to veterinary behaviorist Dr. Kelly Ballantyne:“Biting owners during petting is one of the most common behavioral problems of cats.”

But it’s important to remember one thing: never encourage your cat to bite you! Do not provoke rough play, and definitely do not punish your cat for reacting. If your cat bites you, simply stop engaging with them. Move your hand away and this will signal to them that playtime is over for the time being. One of the reasons that it’s important not to encourage bite play with your cat is because they will come to expect this as a part of their petting routine…which might not work out well when a guest or another member of the family pets the cat and gets attacked as a result.

Ever heard of pet-induced aggression in cats?

Never heard this term before? Well, now you have! Pet-induced aggression is an issue that develops when your cat relates touching with a negative experience. Cats are particular creatures with a sensitive nature no matter what breed they are. This overly aggressive form of biting is associated with fear, aggression, and their desire to be over territorial, and it can happen to any cat at any stage in their life.

CatHealth.com shares the warning signs of pet-induced aggression that you should be aware of:

  • suddenly tense body
  • dilated pupils
  • flattened ears
  • rippling back
  • twitching tail

For a cat owner, sometimes the hardest part of understanding and dealing with with pet-induced aggression is learning your cat’s limits when it comes to physical contact. Respect your cat, even if it means you don’t get to pet them as often as you would like. Learning how to interpret your cat’s body language can save you lots of cuts and bites, and make them much happier in the long run.

Ouch, Cat Bites Hard!

Play aggression is the most common type of aggressive behavior that cats direct toward their owners. Just as we mentioned above in reference to petting being strictly on their terms, a cat who was removed from its littermates early in life is at a disadvantage with no one to teach them limits with those sharp little teeth. Pepper was abandoned at an early age and discovered in a field as a tiny kitten before being taken in by the Houston SPCA. Because of this, establishing limits has been a bit trying when it comes to his biting. Play behavior is essential to a cat’s development, and without it, kittens grow into cats who do not know their limits.

But that is not the only factor that comes into play, literally speaking, in terms of play aggression. For a cat that spends several hours unattended to with no stimulation, play aggression can come as a direct result of boredom. Suddenly, your cat is chasing, pouncing, stalking, and attacking you. Guess that’s what you get for being gone all day long and leaving me all alone, human!

If you have the means to, perhaps consider adopting a cat friend for them to keep them company if you have a job that requires long hours. Despite how society attempts to condition our minds that cats are solitary beings, this is entirely untrue. Cats actually become quite lonely when left alone for extended periods of time and would much rather prefer to spend their time with others, humans and cats included.

Cat biting? Their might be an underlying health reason for it…

Pay close attention to when your cat tries to bite you when you pet them. Your cat doesn’t have the ability to tell you when they’re hurting, and it’s common knowledge that cats are the masters of hiding their pain. Just as with humans, when we are experiencing pain we do not want to be touched. If your cat once loved to be pet, and now they react by biting, this is a clear indication that something could be amiss with their health. Immediately take them in to see their vet so that they can be evaluated.

I’m wild at heart, and don’t you forget it!

Sure, your cat knows exactly where their next meal is coming from. But just because they don’t have to hunt their dinner doesn’t mean that they aren’t wild at heart. If you find your cat flipping the script and going postal on you when you pet them, it’s almost like when they get the zoomies and scurry across the room. Cats are going to be cats, and just because your cat is domesticated doesn’t mean that they won’t channel their inner feral kitty on occasion. Their over-reactive (and painful!) response to you petting them just might be a manifestation of status-induced aggression which street cats (or in this case your indoor kitty channeling their inner street cat kitty) will display as a means to show others who is top cat.

why does my cat bite me when I pet them?

Above all, if your cat bites you when you pet them, try not to take it to heart. Your cat is a tiny lion right there in your living room, and sometimes, they just gotta be big cats trapped in tiny cat clothing.

Did you learn anything new about our feline friends? Don’t forget to share this article with other cat lovers that you know so that they can learn something, too.

Have you ever wondered why cats will often close their eyes when you pet them? Read about it here on cattitudedaily.com. 

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