Unless specifically stated, any expert comments quoted in this news piece have been taken directly from the Instagram post cited below.
Many cat parents have had their feline friends bite them at least once or twice, perhaps when you’ve been playing with them, giving them some cat treats, or even just petting them.
If you’re left asking ‘Why does my cat bite me?’, you’re not alone. It can be confusing to have your cat bite you, apparently out of nowhere, when it doesn’t feel as if you’ve done anything to deserve it, but biting is a natural behavior for cats.
Biting serves lots of purposes for cats, so it’s a good idea to understand why your feline friend might be biting you – hopefully, you’ll be able to prevent future bites, or at least reduce the frequency of them.
But where do you start? Well, Molly Kelsey, or That Cat Counsellor, has explained why your cat might be biting you in a recent Instagram post to give us all some insight.
A photo posted by on
First up, Kelsey says your cat might be biting you because they’re overstimulated.
“Cats have countless nerve endings that easily recognize when their fur is being stroked. If they don’t like it (due to location, direction, duration, or intensity) they will use body language to signal they want it to stop. When that fails to get the point across, biting can occur.”
Or if you’re playing with your cat, you might be triggering their natural hunting instincts.
Cats play using their teeth and claws, and they might playfully bite you during play to mimic the hunting behavior you might see in wild cats when they play fight. When you’re playing with your furry friend, they might see your hands and fingers as prey.
Another reason for biting is pain.
“Pain can trigger a cat to bite as a defensive response,” continues Kelsey. “When a cat is in discomfort, it may feel vulnerable and instinctively resort to defensive behaviors, such as biting, to protect itself.”
In this setting, biting is a way for cats to communicate that they are feeling threatened, in pain, or distressed. And likewise, cats may use biting to signal that they’re unhappy or uncomfortable, without necessarily being in pain. Because you’re holding them in a way they don’t like, or they feel as if their personal space is being invaded.
Is your kitten biting you? If so, this is to be expected even more so than it is for adult cats. Your kitten isn’t deliberately trying to hurt you – they’re playing, and still learning what the rules are.
Kittens explore the world around them with their mouths, and they’re testing out their prey drive for when they’re older, a stage known as play aggression. Here’s how to stop play aggression, in case you need more information.
So, no matter the age of your kitty, they aren’t deliberately being malicious when they bite you. They might just be getting a bit too overexcited or overstimulated, or be uncomfortable and want to convey this to you. Listen to your cat, and try to work out what they need.
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Adam is a freelance journalist covering lifestyle, health, culture, and pets, and he has five years' experience in journalism. He's also spent the last few years studying towards undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in journalism. While a cat person at heart, he's often visiting his parents' Golden Retriever, and when he's not writing about everything pets he's probably drinking coffee, visiting a cat cafe, or listening to live music.