Are you a confused cat parent facing the second most common behavioral problem with your cat? One minute your beloved kitty is enjoying your love and care and the other minute it turns around and uses its teeth or claws at you? Don’t mistake this behavior as a sign that your cat doesn’t like you to scratch her favorite spot, but you surely can’t ignore the tooth marks. This behavior is often termed as “Love biting” from pet owners and if you own a cat, we are sure you must have experienced the same at some point or the other. This is exactly when you wonder – why does my cat bite me? Does my cat not love me? Read further to know the right answers.
Also read: Why does my cat lick me?
Why Does Your Cat Bite You? – 7 Actual Reasons Behind
Amazingly, the topic is so common yet poorly understood. The feline behaviorists also have a formal name for this common issue: Petting-induced aggression. Like a “switch”, these cats turn from friendly to feral, which is surprising for cat parents because they don’t notice the signs that precede this sudden action.
We will discuss later in this article as to how to stop a cat from biting. For now, we will concentrate answering your question – why does my cat bite me? Despite the fact that there is little knowledge available on the subject matter, there are a few possibilities proposed by behaviorists to explain the reason for this kind of cat action:
Other than inappropriate urination, this is the most common issue being faced by Cat owners. Just like people, cats also have personalities. If you look at kittens of the same mother, you will see that even siblings show different behavior when subjected to general experiments. Some are playful while others seem to enjoy resting. While cat biting is not an issue for some people (yes, some people actually enjoy the aggressive behavior of their cats), others seem to find this intolerable and desperately use of claws and teeth to stop. Other personality quirks can be ignored or accepted but when it comes to behavioral problems (that both hurts and can cause infections), it is definitely a cause of concern and needs to be addressed.
1. Biting Is A Cat’s Natural Instinct
Cats, just like lions, have a natural instinct to hunt. This is the reason why kittens at a very early age start to play and attack with other siblings to develop their hunting skills and be prepared for the wild; not realizing that their food will be served in a bowl and they will be treated like royalty for the rest of their lives without having to move a paw to hunt their meal. Although this royal treatment spoils their nature and makes them lazy but some cats can’t leave their natural hunter instincts and tend to attack.
As this is not a real problem unless you make it one, the solution is very simple. Don’t encourage rough play, scratching and biting from early age, no matter how cute it may seem. Just discourage the behavior of stalking, pouncing and acting as if he or she is still in the wild. Also, ask everyone in the family to do so (not just some). Startle your kitty with some loud noise whenever you see it in a “stalking posture” or in a “hunting mode”.
2. Biting Could Mean There Is Something Wrong With Your Cat
If you are facing the scenario where your cat didn’t show any signs of aggression from early age and out of the blue, it started using its hunting tools on you, then consider seeing a veterinarian whom you trust first thing. It is strongly advised that you carefully put your cat in the carrier under these circumstances and take it to the veterinarian. Initially a thorough physical exam will be performed to identify any anomalies. If nothing is found during this X-ray, it might reveal something else. If your cat growls or hisses when picked up or when you touch its back, the cause might be arthritis of the spine or limbs.
For arthritis, chondrotin and glucosamine anti-arthritis supplements are effective and most cats don’t handle aspirin well. For some not-so-sure reasons, the sudden twinges of pain that cats get (which make them aggressive) go away when cats are put on birth control pills. In some cases, this can also be caused due to epilepsy, which can be solved if you put your cat on an epilepsy control. Certain studies also prove that dental diseases can cause a cat to show aggressive behavior.
3. Your Cat Is Biting You Out Of Excess Petting
If you see your cat being restless, twitching its tail, flattening or twitching its ears or a tendency to move its head toward your hand, it is a sign that your cat has had enough petting and needs to be released. Failure to do so may result in its teeth in your hand, which is not a scene you want to picture in your mind. This can be due to their short attention span, which turns the pleasurable petting into annoying touch. Another possible reason can be your contact at a sensitive spot that the cat doesn’t like to be touched at.
4. Domination Is Another Reason For Her To Bite
As you treat your cat like your family member, he or she may also treat you the same. Sounds really sweet but the issue turns out to be painful when your cat is dominant in nature. These maturity signs start showing once your cat turns 2 years old and at that time, it may start treating you as a subordinate cat that needs to be dominated. Some owners don’t catch these signs as aggression and misread them as play. Your cat may block your doorway and treat you as a rival with dilated pupils, flattened ears with the usual hissing and spitting. Food treats given at the right moment and withholding love, attention & treats, until the cat gets relaxed is a way to dominate your cat without using punishment (which may make the matter worse). The use of pheromone mist around the house can be very helpful as well.
5. Could Be Misplaced Anger
As seen in humans, emotional intelligence is not everyone’s game. You can be angry on someone and let it out on someone else who had nothing to do with the actual problem. This behavior is seen in cats and parrots as well. Your cat may be angry at some stranger trying to bug it or pet it and let it out at you by biting or scratching your hands when you handle it. If a lower ranking cat is aggressively handled due to redirected anger by another cat, it may fight back and result in a messy cat-fight.
Interactions with the cat during this period wouldn’t yield good results nor will shouting or punishing it. If the object of the redirected anger is not you but another cat, try to separate both the cats into rooms and turn off the lights. This will calm the cat down and remove the chances of escalating the problem further. Praise, stroke and give food treats to the angry cats which will help calming them down.
6. Biting Out Of Fear
Your cat may trust and love you in normal scenario but when it comes to the motherly instincts, it will attack you if you pose a threat to its kittens. Cats are very protective of their kittens and when they perceive a threat towards their children, they will depict aggressive behavior and attack people. To avoid such problematic behavior, avoid disturbing your cat when she is going through motherhood period and her kittens are young. This behavior will subside once the kittens grow older and if you have to handle nursing mothers, use tuna juice on your hand or spray your cat with it first.
7. The Inner Hunter
You must not allow your cat outdoors unsupervised. There is a reason you have adopted him or her as a pet and you are responsible for keeping your kitty well trained and behaved. Leaving them unsupervised with other small pets or birds will result in having the pet eventually being eaten by your cute little kitty even if it shows no signs of hunter behavior initially. Keep the pets that are below cats in the food chain out of their reach and don’t let them outdoors without your supervision.
As discussed earlier, there are multiple reasons why your cat is biting you. Let us discuss a few general ideas of how to reduce the aggressive behavior of your cat.
- Due to their hunting behavior, cats like to play with toys that feel like prey. You can reduce the aggression of your cat by providing a variety of toys to play with like fake mice, balls, toy bones etc. They like to chase their “prey” and stalk it before “attacking”. So, finding toys that fit the description of a catch might keep your kitty interested and hence reduce the aggressive behavior.
- Other than toys of above stated nature, it is also required that you provide your cat with objects that intimidate her. Cardboard boxes and Paper bags may seem like a good (and safe) option to let your cat play with. The fact that cats won’t be able to comprehend the shape and type of these materials (in their natural hunting mindset) makes them intrigued about spending time investigating.
- Observe when your cat seems to be the most active and playful. Schedule your playtime with it during these times. For a change, rather encouraging your kitty to make physical contact with you, try using a long toy or something that you can throw and control from a distance.
- To train your cat to chase toys instead of you, observe the behavior of your cat when/where it attacks you and think ahead of it to throw toys when this is about to happen. Attacking the ankles and grabbing the feet is a very common behavior, which is often classified as aggression by many cat owners. Now, to train your cat against this, you need to direct its attention towards toys and not you.
- If you can afford and taking care of another pet, go for including another cat in the family. This will not only provide you a new playful companion but also your cat a playmate to spend time with.
- A more time consuming but very helpful solution is to build an enclosure for your cat outside (backyard or garden) to explore its “hunter” instincts. With opportunities to chase insects/small animals and spend time in the natural habitat, your cat will feel more relaxed. Its aggression and need for attention will also reduce helping you build a stronger bond with it without getting tooth marks and scratches in return.
- Like children, cats respond to punishment and withdrawal as well. As you may scold a child on doing something bad or for misbehaving, try doing the same with your cat. Consistently give time-outs to your cat by going out of the room and stopping to play whenever you feel its actions are too rough. Don’t isolate it by enclosing it in a box or room to punish, this will spur more anger and aggression.
On the bright side, no matter what the reason is behind your cat’s aggression, you can meaningfully interact with your cat. You can receive coaching and guidance from online. Also, your veterinarian will be able to recognize the very subtle warning signs that precede your cat’s biting and irregularity in behavior. You can easily identify and eradicate the causes of your cat’s displeasure before it results in bite marks and scratches on your body. Hope, we have answered your question – why does my cat bite me. If you feel we have missed something to write here or wish to show the world what kind of cat you have, please drop in the comments section.