Are you perplexed when your cat is snuggling on your lap, purring, appearing happy, and you’re softly stroking them while all of a sudden they sink their teeth into you?
Maybe it’s just me, but this is what happened with one of my cats just the other day.
She was purring and then before I knew it, she had sunk her teeth into my arm.
What’s going on here?
There’s no answer as to why exactly your cat does this and doesn’t do it all the time, but there are some theories out there.
Why do cats bite?
Cat behaviorist Pam Johnson-Bennett suggests that biting has nothing to do with being mad at you.
She says your cat might be so delighted with the attention from you, they might want to play a little rough, which can involve a bite or actually chew on you.
What happens is if they get so excited and into what you’re doing, they don’t realize what they’re doing. They can get carried away and bite or chew on you by mistake.Pam Johnson-Bennett – Cat behaviorist
So it sounds like the bottom line is that your cats might actually enjoy this cat-on-human roughhousing and simply get caught up in all of the fun and excitement.
Whatever the reason your cat is biting you, it sounds like it might have nothing to do with being mad at you.
It’s probably either a mistake or an action they enjoy and get too excited in the moment to realize what they’re doing.
But regardless of whether this cat behavior has malicious intent or not, don’t ignore all the times your cat is happy and purring, but then goes in for the bite.
Recognizing the signs
It’s critical that you’re able to identify warning signals of petting aggressiveness in your cat, and there are a few telltale body language indicators you should be aware of:
A cat that is being petted may be calming down from a state of excitement, but then begins to growl or on elderly cat yowl.
This means it’s time for you to stop petting, as your cat is saying so – even if they don’t use words.
If your cat starts licking their lips before biting or scratching you, this is a sure sign that they’re preparing to do one or both.
Don’t ignore this sign and definitely don’t believe the “it’s just a cat kiss” myth – it most certainly isn’t!
Another big red flag is if your cat starts pressing their body against you as you pet them, trying to increase the distance between where you are and where they are.
This is not a sign that your cat wants to be closer to you – this is the exact opposite and instead it’s a signal they’re trying to get away from you!
Don’t let those cute eyes fool you, those wide pupils and dilated pupils should never be ignored as an indicator of aggression.
One more sign: if your cat starts making a low husky sound or a chirruping/trilling noise, it’s their way of telling you that they’re getting annoyed – and this is the only time such noises should be heard.
How to prevent cat bite
There are a few things you can do to keep your cat from biting and other behaviors that may result in injury:
- Be gentle when petting
Don’t go for those hard-to-reach areas such as the belly, the base of the tail, and behind the ears. These spots should be off-limits unless you’re very gentle.
- Don’t hold your cat too tightly
If you have to, release them so they can escape if they want to – but pet them slowly and gently instead of applying extreme pressure with one hand while petting them.
- Don’t rush things
Give your cat time to adjust to new surroundings and don’t try forcing new behaviors on them. Instead, go at their pace and allow them time to adjust however they need to.
- Groom your cat often
So you can check for wounds, if you find one, get the cat checked out by a vet. This may help prevent infection or illness!
It’s also the best way to prevent your cat from shedding so much.
Be careful where your cat bites you – don’t put your fingers in their mouth because you could break a tooth! If it’s your hand, don’t hit them.
That will only scare the cat and make the behavior worse.
How to stop your cat from biting
You can try distracting your cat with something else – if they bite you while playing, have an interactive toy they can focus on instead.
You can also place something they like (catnip is usually a good choice) right into their mouth, they’ll most likely drop the biting behavior to play with that instead.
Another method might be to “knead” your cat’s paws, rubbing them with your fingers in order to get them used to have hands around their feet and bodies.
If it becomes a habit, they might associate good things – like getting a pet – with having their paws squeezed and not feeling the need to bite you.
It’s also possible to spray water on your cat and tell them “no”, but it’s important to note that cats hate water!
You’ll probably just be instilling more fear in them if you use this method, which is definitely not the goal.