Why does my cat bite when I pet him?

Some people think that cats rarely or hardly bite, but everyone who has pets says otherwise. Often by this behavior they are trying to say something to their owner, such as “I don’t like it. They have thin and sharp teeth, their bites are often painful and don’t heal well and can become infected.

Cat Psychology

Cats, like humans, experience emotions: fear, joy, sadness, love, hate and others. But unlike their owners, they cannot speak, but express them in other ways: purring, meowing or their actions. Humans sometimes find it difficult to understand what the pets are experiencing at this moment, and it is often a mystery why they bite when they are petted.

21 reasons why your cat bites you when you pet it

Normal or pathology

Sometimes some cats develop mental disorders, but it is not possible to detect this on your own. To this end, it is worth visiting the veterinarian and tell your concerns about changes in the animal’s behavior and the appearance of unmotivated aggression. Only a specialist will be able to determine whether this is due to pathology or to character traits.

But more often than not, biting is due to other causes. Cats are some of the most independent pets and this should be taken into account. And everyone’s character is different. If some are very affectionate and like to show attention from the owner, others do not like it.

Some animals, even living for a long time in the family, try to keep away from people and do not tolerate the familiar attitude to their person. This is an individual character traits and change the temperament is not possible.

Causes of unexpected aggression

Cats can bite in different ways. There are two variants of such behavior:

  • The rarest – the pet gently bites their fingers, with the claws retracted and their actions are rather pleasant than not. This is what they do most often when communicating with their offspring. When a cat behaves this way with its owner, it means it trusts him and loves him very much.
  • More common is an abrupt change in behavior. A second ago the pet perceived stroking absolutely calmly, showing no signs of aggression, and now it turns over and begins to bite and scratch the hand painfully.

It is important to understand the reasons that prompt cats to bite and scratch their owner’s hands. Some of the most common include.


Often a sign of problems with the pet’s socialization. Breeders try to accustom the kitten to petting as early as 7 weeks of age. If this is not done, then as an adult, such an animal will dislike affection from the owners and bite.


It is important to remember that cats, like people, are not always healthy, they have abdominal pain, back, head, joints, there may be skin problems. So when showing affection, when they don’t feel well, they may bite. They are trying to tell the owner to leave them alone.

If this behavior appears out of character, it’s worth going to the vet for a check-up, as it could be a telltale sign of illness.

Static electricity

Often when the pet’s coat is too dry and the air is too humid, micro-discharges may occur when stroking. A person may not notice this, but the pet is extremely uncomfortable, so it may bite.

The gender of the pet

This factor also needs to be taken into account. Many females are more affectionate, but can be aggressive after becoming a mother. Males, often independent and do not like excessive affection, the exception is castrated individuals, they begin to show more attention to the owner and demand the same from him.

Increased attention from humans

It should be remembered that these are independent animals that do not like to be imposed on them. The exception is the oriental breeds of cats. These pets are extremely sociable and affectionate. But they can also be in a bad mood when affection does not bring pleasure.


Some cats fall asleep while being stroked, and if there is a change in the rhythm or force of pressure they may wake up and bite. This behavior is prone to low-socialized pets who are always expecting a catch from people. Or another situation – the animal is so sound asleep that stroking became a surprise and frightened it. In this case, it is simply a protective reaction from fright.

Dominant behavior

The cat is trying to establish himself this way and show that he is in charge in the house. He is trying to control the process of petting by the owner.

Negative experiences in the past

Often people pet their pets before unpleasant procedures, such as claw trimming or bathing. But for them the pattern becomes fixed: you have stroked – something unpleasant has happened. And subsequently, the owner’s petting will provoke biting and scratching.

Early weaning

Cats teach their offspring that humans are friends, feed them, pet them, and don’t hurt them. If you take the kittens away from her too early, they don’t learn that and may perceive people negatively. A similar pattern of behavior is exhibited by pets raised on the street. Cats do not know that their owners are trying to show their love and care in this way, and consider affection a threat to themselves.

Feeding kittens and the period of pregnancy

During this period, it is possible for some cats to change their character, and they also try to protect their offspring in this way, to protect them.

Cat bites: behavior patterns

Experts have identified several patterns of behavior of cats when they may bite people:


It is always aggressive, but as a learning or training activity. The object is a model (a rubber ball, an artificial mouse, a rattle on a string, etc.). For kittens, it is training, learning to hunt, which is inevitably accompanied by biting. Therefore, you should not play with your hands or feet with the pets, as they begin to be perceived as a “victim”, which must be caught and disarmed. When playing with toddlers, this behavior is amusing at first, but it will fix this model of play and it will be difficult to wean them from it in an older age.

Entertaining pets should be done only with the help of special devices for cats.

Master – food

People are a source of food for their pets, so you should not tease with food or treats, much less leave it all in a visible place. By biting and scratching, cats try to get their owners to give them more treats.

Licking the owner’s hand and biting

Often people who have a cat at home are surprised by this pattern: just now the pet was purring and licking its fingers and suddenly it bit. There can be several reasons for such behavior. For example, an unrealized maternal instinct. Cats may bite when licking their offspring. Or it may be a sudden change in the pet’s mood. In this way, the pet wants to say that he is tired of petting and needs to be left alone. To prevent such incidents, it is important to pay attention to the cat’s body language and notice changes in his mood. So the twitching of the tail and skin on the back, soaring hair indicate a quick attack on the owner’s hand.


For the most part, cats are not vindictive and do not hold a grudge for long. But when the owner does not allow them to play with certain objects or not allowed into a room, they may become angry and show their displeasure by biting. With such behavior, you should try to divert the pet’s attention to other things, try to distract it with a game.

Aggression of a secondary nature

Cats and cats are very enthusiastic creatures and often after an interesting game with an artificial mouse, the owner wanting to pet the pet, gets a clawed paw on the hand. This happens because the animal has not calmed down and is still a bit in the process of playing.

The recipe for this behavior is simple – let the cat calm down a bit, and then pet it after a while.

Aggression of a primary nature

Often in response to physical punishment, the pet begins to show hostility toward the owner. This is due to the fact that he adopts the model of human behavior and gets into a kind of fight. It is important to remember that physical punishment is not the best way to educate a cat and should not be used. You should scare him with a loud sound or splash water to stop the attack. Sometimes the initial aggression indicates that the cat is ill, so if all other causes of this behavior are excluded, but if the cat keeps throwing himself at people – you need to take him to the vet for a check-up.

Why a cat bites for no reason

For the most part, cats never bite for no reason, but there are situations when people think they are attacked for no reason. However, this is not the case and there are several factors that influence such behavior, in addition to those described above. These include:

  • Changing teeth. In animals, as in humans, milk teeth grow first, which later change to permanent teeth. In cats, this period occurs at 3-4 months of age. At this time there may be pain and discomfort in the mouth, and they begin to actively bite the hands of the owner. It is important not to let this behavior pattern become fixed at this point. Otherwise, even the adult animal will continue to chew on people’s fingers. It is necessary to buy special rubber toys, about which the pet will scratch its teeth.
  • Sexual attraction. During this period, many cats and cats become aggressive. It is easy to notice it: they leave tags on the territory of the apartment, scream violently and beg to go outside. There are two solutions to the problem: neutering and mate selection.
  • Removal of claws. Nowadays, this inhumane operation is common in veterinary practice. If after it a pet starts biting, it indicates either revenge or that his teeth are the only weapon he can defend himself with, and this is what the cat uses.
  • Lack of attention from people. If they are not being petted and played with enough, a bite is their way of keeping the owner interested. Give at least 10 minutes a day to communicate with the pet, and the problem will disappear.
  • Caring deficiency. With an untidy litter box or lack of food, the cat tries to let the owner know that it’s time to clean his litter box or feed him.

How to recognize readiness to attack

Cats don’t bite without warning, it’s important to pay attention to the signs before attacking. These include:

  • The animal’s posture changes;
  • The pet’s body tenses, which can be felt when touched;
  • purring stops abruptly;
  • ears flattened;
  • anger in the gaze, pupils dilate;
  • the nature of the sounds made becomes threatening, e.g., purring, purring
  • the expression of the muzzle changes from placid to angry;
  • The tail begins to twitch.

One or a set of signs indicate that the pet is in an aggressive mood, that it has become angry and will soon attack a person. You should not ignore them, and it is better to leave the cat alone for a while to calm down.

How to wean a cat from biting

There are several techniques, using which you can rid the pet of a bad habit and prevent it from developing. These include:

  • Proper communication with guests. Kitten should not perceive people as aggressors, so you should accustom him to them from a small age. But it’s also important that visitors behave with respect for the pet: do not take him in your arms if you don’t like it, do not throw him up (he may get frightened) and do not make him jump. If your pet nestles into a corner, don’t drag it out of its hiding place to brag to its friends.
  • The pet should have toys with which it can have fun, and you shouldn’t play with its hands.
  • If the cat bites, you should make a harsh sound and he will let go, because he does not like it. For example, clap your hands or shout sharply.
  • If episodes of aggression have become frequent, and all the familiar causes of such behavior are excluded, it is worth visiting the veterinarian, perhaps the problem is in the pet’s illness.
  • After the bite, show the cat that it is unpleasant. You can ignore the request for a treat or to continue playing.
  • It is important for the owner to determine the approximate amount of time that the pet is allowed to be petted and not to neglect that knowledge.
  • When biting is frequent, you can prepare a container with a sprayer and spray it on the cat when he is aggressive. He will be frightened and run away. This will wean him off such behavior.
  • Get a rabies vaccination regularly. A pet can catch this incurable disease and become dangerous to others. Therefore, you should not neglect regular visits to the veterinary clinic.

What to do if kittens bite and how to stop it?

Kittens, like children, need to be brought up, only it is done differently. It is important to remember that the earlier you start this process, the more effective it will be.

An adult animal is more difficult to re-educate than a baby. If he bites hard, you have to stop playing and say clearly, loudly – “You can’t” and stop interacting with him, ignore him for a while. You can howl at him after the bite. Another option is to turn your attention to something else, such as a toy, but you can’t give him a treat. Otherwise, he’ll take it as praise and will continue to behave aggressively toward people.

The owner should pay attention to the cat’s personality and his favorite places to pet him. Some cats like to be petted on their belly, while others cannot stand it and allow themselves only to be petted on the back.

In any case you should find out the reason for the aggressive behavior and eliminate the factors that lead to it. If you cannot cope with it yourself, you can ask for help from specialists.

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