Why Does My Cat Bite Me When I Pet Her?

Those of us who share space or have shared space with that furry, lovable package of contradictions otherwise known as a cat, have likely had this experience.

They have whiskers on either side of their noses that are so tuned in that they can discern a change in air movement several feet behind them and know that someone is sneaking up on them.

Why does my cat bite me when she's being affectionate?

Biting is generally something people associate with negative feelings, but cats are a little different. When your cat nibbles you playfully, she’s really offering her affection. This is much different from a fearful or defensive bite that’s meant to cause harm, and the feelings behind it are different as well.

Why does my cat want me to pet her but then bites me?

The cat begs for attention and loves the petting, but then bites you after only a few strokes. These cats use the “leave me alone” bite to stop interactions such as petting, being lifted or approached, or being moved from a favorite perch. It’s a very common behavior in cats, but you can work with your pet to stop it.

Cat lovers frequently ask for help in stopping aggressive behavior in their catsbut there are many kinds of aggression, and a one-size-fits-all program doesnt work.

Petting aggression seems most common in young, energetic cats taken early from their litter and left alone for long periods during the day. Have your veterinarian check for signs of arthritis , an injury, or dental problems to make sure it’s not any physical pain that’s causing your cat to aggressively reject your petting.

Make these behaviors unnecessary by avoiding situations that prompt them, and/or manage the circumstances so the cat never gets a chance to bite or wield its claws. And remember, a pet‘s bad habits often become worse just before they go away as your cat tries harder to get the previously successful behavior to work again. When you reach the petting threshold, if the cat is sitting on your lap, dont push it off or it may claw at you in an attempt to attack your hands.

The goal in these situations is to teach the cat that all good things in life (play, food, attention) must be earned and that you call the shots. Before the cat gets the food bowl, say come in a cheerful, strong voice and then turn on the can opener, shake the bag of kibble, or pick up the treat jar . Use a treat or toy to lure your kitty off furniture or out of the way instead of pushing or lifting it, which puts your hands within the strike zone.

We all know how the story goes: youre stroking your kitty with a soft touch, and then suddenly out of nowhere, you feel their sharp teeth piercing your skin. OUCH. But have you ever wondered why your cat suddenly turns into a vampire on you?

Youre petting your sweet and presumably harmless cat when all of a sudden you feel like theyve taken a chunk of your flesh from your body. The base of the tail is a sensory overload spot for cats, and may quickly get you bitten should you pet that area.

Experts have concluded that some cats suddenly go cuckoo on you because it neurologically triggers negative stimulus in their minds . You dont want to induce stress upon your feline, so regardless of the reason for biting, its best to give your cat the space they desire should the situation arise.

Ever have a cat that seems to be enjoying your affection.. then suddenly turns around and bites the same hand that was just petting it? Curious why your cat can pull this Dr. Jeykll and Mr. Hyde routine, when you are simply trying to show your love?

The silver lining from this, is that petting-induced aggression can be prevented by promoting good early socialization, such as frequent, gentle handling and grooming of young cats.

Why Is Your Cat Aggressive During Petting?

Unlike dogs, cats often have a low tolerance for being petted and can become overstimulated quickly. The length of time it takes for petting to go from enjoyable to uncomfortable varies by cat. But when it reaches that point, the cat reacts almost as if it’s being hurt or is in pain. Animal behaviorists refer to this asPetting aggression seems most common in young, energetic cats taken early from their litter and left alone for long periods during the day.Smacking the cat may make the aggression worse since most cats view physical correction as a challenge and may become even more aggressive during subsequent petting sessions.Petting aggression can be explosive and dangerous, especially for well-meaning young children. Learn to identify and avoid situations that might lead to this behavior.

Rule out Medical Causes

There are some medical conditions that may cause a cat to become aggressive, and you should rule these out before you try to modify your pet‘s behavior. Have your veterinarian check for signs of arthritis, an injury, or dental problems to make sure it’s not any physical pain that’s causing your cat to aggressively reject your petting.

Prevention

Cat communication varies somewhat among cats, just as human speech may include different accents or colloquialisms. But body language offers clues as to what your cat intends to do:

Petting Threshold

Cats accept grooming from other cats on the head and neck. But the full body strokes a human applies may feel unacceptable and make the cat uneasy or uncomfortable. It’s this feeling of unease that stimulates the biting.Limit your petting to the cat’s head or the back of its neck. Then identify its petting threshold. In other words, count the number of strokes your cat allows before aggressing; pay close attention to its body language so you can stop petting before the cat bites.It may be three strokes, five, or more. Once you’ve identified its limit, stop before the cat attacks so thatWhen you reach the petting threshold, if the cat is sitting on your lap, don’t push it off or it may claw at you in an attempt to attack your hands. To end the petting, simply stand up and dump the cat off without touching it. Don’t interact with the cat, who may cry to get your attention. Other cats in this situation may simply run away and sulk.

Use Positive Reinforcement

The goal in these situations is to teach the cat that all good things in life (play, food, attention) must be earned and that you call the shots. Then rewards and resources can be used to motivate the cat to properly respond.For instance, teach the cat to “come” by using dinnertime to your advantage.Before the cat gets the food bowl, say “come” in a cheerful, strong voice and then turn on the can opener, shake the bag of kibble, or pick up the treat jar. Your cat has already learned these cues and what time to run to its bowl, so you just teach it to associate the come command with the action. When the cat obeys, reward it with the treat or bowl of food.You can also clicker train your cat by pairing food rewards with a clicker that makes a noise. Eventually your cat will begin to think of the clicker as the reward and treats may no longer be necessary.Use a treat or toy to lure your kitty off furniture or out of the way instead of pushing or lifting it, which puts your hands within the strike zone. Say “move” and toss the treat on the floor or entice the cat down with a feather.If the cat is in your chair, tip or shake it to get the cat to leave on its own. Eventually, you’ll just need to say the word

Don’t Take it Personal

According to vet health professionals, cats do not always do this as a means to induce bodily harm upon you. Our cats can be complexing little creatures at times, but sometimes when your cat has suddenly grown tired of your lavished affection they resort to this quirky behavior as a way to tell you that they’re tired of your antics. We all know that cats are incredibly picky, and they prefer things on their terms. And, hey, that’s just one of their endearing qualities we love about them most. Maybe I’ll let you pet me…maybe I won’t. But careful there, kitty may bite!If your cat bites you whenever you pet them, this is just their way of saying “I’m tired of this, stop” to you. Give them the space they are requesting. Surely they’ll come curl up in your lap once they’re ready to have your affections once more when they are ready. Cats are always good at keeping us humans on our toes, huh?

Satisfying Their Inner Feral Kitty

Okay, we all know we’ve seen this happen before! You’re petting your sweet and presumably harmless cat when all of a sudden you feel like they’ve taken a chunk of your flesh from your body. They’ve even termed a phrase to describe this exact behavior, known in the cat behavior world as “pet aggression.” Your cat may resort to biting as a means to honor their inner feral nature that’s hidden beneath that social exterior.

Overstimulation

Cats, like humans, have nerve endings all over their body–except theirs are covered in all that lovely fur. The base of the tail is a sensory overload spot for cats, and may quickly get you bitten should you pet that area. When a cat becomes overstimulated, they may respond with aggressive behavior, such as biting, to make it known that they’d like the behavior to stop, right meow!Repetitive petting can cause your cat to become overly excited, and trigger an arousal-based bite.Experts have concluded that some cats suddenly go cuckoo on you because it neurologically triggers negative stimulus in their minds. It’s important for us cat moms and dads to know how to read the signs of our cat’s body language. By doing so, we can develop an even stronger bond with our feline friends.

Love Bites

When that bite is more of the gingerly kind, your cat is doing this as a means to show you affection. While we don’t usually bite our loved ones as a means to show them that we care, our cats can’t exactly send us love letters or greeting cards. Studies suggest that cats use these gentle love bites as a reminiscent gesture of their kitten days, a term of affection they received from their mothers when she would lick and nibble them while grooming.Consider it one of the most purrfect compliments your cat can give, because they give you these love bites to show you that they feel happy and safe in your care.

Yo Human, I’m The Boss Around Here!

A cat is a territorial being by nature, and the same can be said even when their domain is strictly the inside of your humble abode. If your cat bites you when you pet them, they may be doing this as a way to remind you that they are the boss in these parts, not you. Boy, they sure do have us trained well, don’t they? Now go fetch me my wet food, mortal!No matter what the reason, our cats typically do not mean to cause us harm when they do this to the humans that they care for the most. An untamed cat is much different than a properly socialized feline that you keep inside of your home. If you have a cat that feel is biting out of aggression, then it’s best to intervene with professional behavioral methods. You don’t want to induce stress upon your feline, so regardless of the reason for biting, it’s best to give your cat the space they desire should the situation arise.And remember, no hard feelings!