Pet Tips

Tip – 37 – Cat bites during petting

This scenario has happened hundreds of thousands of times. You’re petting a cat on its head and back and the cat seems to be in ecstasy. It’s purring like a little motorcycle, looking absolutely content, when all of a sudden the cat pounces on your hand and takes a bite. It may even throw in a few paw swipes as well.

Usually the biting and/or scratching isn’t too hard and it rarely breaks the skin but it still hurts and the recipient feels betrayed. What is going on? What’s wrong with the cat? Is it Demonic? Psychotic? Dumb?

None of the above. Petting aggression in cats is absolutely normal. The reasons for petting aggression are not fully understood but research suggests that it has to do with the fact that the cat has mixed emotions about the whole petting phenomenon. Most adult cats that aren’t related don’t touch each other much except for fighting and sexual episodes. So even though the cats seems content, it may realize that this is not normal and an instinctive predatory response is elicited which results in biting.

Don’t take it personally and don’t punish or hit the cat. Understand and OBSERVE the cat’s warning signs. Keep the petting sessions fairly short and end the session the second the cat exhibits warning signs. The best way to deal with this situation is to be aware of the cat’s body language. The cat will always give you signals that it has had enough of your petting. The key signal to watch for is a twitching tail and a body that starts to tense up. Ears may turn or flicker and the cat’s head may also turn toward your hand. This is a classic predatory response and the cat’s way of telling you to IMMEDIATELY stop petting and end the session.

4 Responses to this Article, So Far

  1. Avatar Ashley says:

    My cat (5months old) will roll onto her side or back when my 2yr old decides it’s time to play. Even when he’s being rough she rarely swipes or bites him. I on the other hand, can go in to pet her and immediately greeted by flattened ears, swiping, and a hard bite. I have no idea what to do about it! Any tips on how to break her of this? I want to be able to show my cat affection without being attacked!

    • Avatar Marko says:

      Hmmm..Not sure what you are doing but maybe the way you are approaching the cat scares the cat. If I had a few extra bucks and was in the same situation, I’d likely ask my vet for a reference to a cat behavior person. They should be able to give you good strategies for solving this when they see the interaction.
      Good luck.

  2. Avatar Lucinda says:

    I have always been a cat person in fact more so since I have gotten older. I was happy to see that you can actually communicate with your cat but the understanding between the two of us grows and developsthe more we talk to them! My kitty is my most treasured friend and roomate! Both my daughter and I cannot imagine our lives without him :)

  3. Avatar Tamding says:

    Do Not Worry!
    Cat biting you softly is very common. Its their way of showing affection.
    Its called a love bite. :)

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