It’s not uncommon for cats to bite, scratch and even growl to avoid being pet or handled. To help you manage your cat’s biting, this article explains:
- Why cats bite when being pet
- How to stop your cat from biting while being pet
- What other pet parents are asking about cats biting while being pet
Is biting when being pet normal or is my cat just mean?
Your cat isn’t mean, they’re just trying to say, “Go away. I’ve had enough petting!” Cats are very sensitive creatures. They have lots of nerve endings on their bodies and, as a result, can become overstimulated during petting or just not like the feeling of being pet.
Keep in mind, some cats will exhibit aggressive behavior (biting, scratching, or growling) as soon as petting begins, while other cats will seem to enjoy being pet at first and then turn around and bite your hand. The key to understanding how your cat is feeling, and reducing the likelihood that your cat bites you, is to monitor their body posture and language for stress signals such as excessive meowing, yawning, blinking, or lip licking. These signals can be warning signs that your cat has had enough and a bite is soon to come. If your cat starts to exhibit these behaviors while you’re petting your cat, stop petting your cat.
How can you stop your cat from biting while being pet?
To stop your cat from biting while being pet, you need to work on changing their underlying feelings about petting. To do this:
- Do not force your cat to interact. Moving at your cat’s speed and allowing them to determine when it’s time for interaction and petting is the first step in winning over your cat. Even though 1 or 2 minutes of petting may not seem like a lot to us, this amount could be very overwhelming for your cat. Keep each petting session short!
- Pair petting and interaction with things your cat loves. Whenever your cat interacts with you, even if that means smelling your hand briefly or allowing one stroke of their fur, give your cat a reward.
- Gradually increase the reward criteria. As your cat gets more comfortable, you can increase the criteria for a reward. For example, if your cat consistently lets you stroke them with one finger for 3 seconds, you may want to increase the reward criteria and only provide a reward once your cat has allowed you to stroke their fur for 8 seconds.
- Be patient. Changes won't happen overnight, but if you stay patient and work at your cat's speed you'll see their comfort levels improve.
Frequently asked questions about cats biting while being pet
Why does my cat bite me when they are being affectionate?
Small nibbles and gentle bites are thought to be reminiscent of how a mother cat grooms her kittens, and some cats will exhibit this behavior when they feel bonded to their pet parents.
Why do cats get aggressive after petting?
Petting-induced aggression can happen when your cat is overstimulated or they’ve had enough petting. If your cat bites, scratches or growls, it’s time to stop petting your cat.
Why does my cat grab my hand and bite me while purring?
Cats will gently bite or nibble on your hand as a sign of affection. This behavior tends to take place when a cat feels bonded to the pet parent.