If you’re wondering why does my cat bite me, know that that’s a pretty valid question to ask. First and foremost, you must know that it’s quite common for a cat to bite, and it’s not always a result of aggression, contrary to popular belief.

In fact, it’s actually completely natural and instinctive cat behavior. Wondering why that is? Read on to find that out, as well as what to do when your kitty bites you.

The Reasons Why Cats Bite

As we have already mentioned above, when you’ve been bitten by a cat, you’re experiencing a cat’s instinctive behavior. This behavior does not indicate that cats are instinctively or inherently aggressive. You must not be quick to jump to that conclusion.

Rather, you must understand that as natural-born predators, cats tend to communicate through actions that might be interpreted as aggressive by humans, such as biting, clawing, and pouncing. Try not to anthropomorphize your cat. Understand that sometimes, these actions might even mean that the cat is simply playing.

To an extent, you must be willing to allow your feline to respond to this natural instinct; not doing so might prevent them from developing healthily from kittens.

But when your cat bites you, how do you know whether she is crossing the fine line between simply playing and being aggressive?

You can usually tell the reason behind biting depending on the situation in which you have been bitten by your cat. The circumstances in which your cat bit you can tell you a lot about what’s up with your cat.

With that in mind, let’s go through each kind of situation where this might occur.

Cat Biting When Petting

It’s like a rite of passage for an ailurophile: one minute, your fur baby is sitting and purring in your lap, and the next, her attitude changes completely, and she bites you, usually on your finger. The first time this happened, you may have felt a little shaken. Afterwards, you’ve probably scratched your head over it a million times thinking, “why does my cat bite me when I pet him?’

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Turns out, the most common cause of your cat biting you when you cuddle is also the most frequently occurring, obvious one: being bitten by a cat during petting sessions. Which is to say, if you’ve been bitten by your cat, it was probably while you were playing with him.

It means your cat simply doesn’t want to be petted anymore or is being petted in a part of its body where it does not want to be petted, no matter how softly. So, think before you rub or pet your cat.

If you’re new to being a cat owner, it might be difficult to tell when your cat has suddenly gotten tired of your stroking and petting.

And don’t lose heart if this happens! Although cats’ behavior can be hard to decipher sometimes, you shouldn’t mistake your cat for being unloving or incapable of showing affection. Don’t worry — the more you interact with your cat, the more you will begin to understand his body language and thereby avoid such incidents in the future.

Communicative Cat Bite

Sometimes, biting is used as a communicative tool by a cat seeking attention. This is not unlike a love bite but can, of course, be disruptive. The best course of action, in this case, is to ignore your cat; if needed, walk away from her to show that it’s not okay to behave in this way. It might take some time for your cat to get used to this idea; once again, remember to be patient and keep faith in your fur baby.

Cat Play Bite

As we mentioned before, cats are natural hunters, and this fact manifests in a lot of their behaviors. If your feline uses teeth during play, it’s most likely an expression of her natural hunting instinct; this is especially seen in young cats. 

Cats show their affection for owners through the use of their teeth, which they don’t understand might hurt their owners. Mock pouncing, lightly fighting; these are ways for cats and kittens to play, and they repeat that behavior in front of owners. In other words, you could call it a cat love bite. Although some cat owners actually enjoy this, you might not feel the same way. Follow the steps we mentioned above if you want to put a stop to it.

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Sudden Cat Bite During Grooming

Grooming is another expression of a cat’s love towards her siblings and owner. You might at first feel loved when your cat uses her small rough tongue to groom you, but then betrayed the next second when you feel a toothy pinch from her. 

Once again, this is a natural behavior. When, during grooming, a cat comes across a foreign element that cannot be removed through licking, they may use teeth instead.

Does this mean you have something on your skin which your cat perceives as an alien? That could be the case. However, it could also actually mean that your cat is attempting to show affection through her mouth. Either way, if you want to stop this behavior, you must train your cat in a certain way. More on that below.

Aggressive Cat Bite Due to Fear

If none of the reasons we’ve provided above fit you, or if the bites feel too hard and aggressive to be truly affectionate, your cat might just be scared. Not of you necessarily; there are other possible reasons a cat might be scared and reacting aggressively.

One of these reasons is that felines are particularly wary of changes in their surroundings, living conditions, or routine. As such, it’s easy for a cat to feel threatened, especially in new situations. In such cases, your cat might want to attack. Watch out for changes in your cat’s behavior when you’re introducing a new cat or dog, changing homes, or getting her acquainted with a new friend of yours.

If this problem arises, remember the foundational rules of socializing cats: you must use deliberate, slow and calm movements, and speak in a low voice. Try to be level with your cat: for example, if she is on the ground, crouch down slowly to where she is.

How to Stop Your Cat from Biting You Unprovoked

Preventing your cat from biting you depends on the situation in which you’ve been bitten.

How to Stop Bites from Your Cat During Petting

When dealing with a cat biting you during petting, remember, cats are very independent creatures. Try not to force your affection on them and stop petting if that’s what you think would help. Accept that they’ve had enough of your affection and let her go. You’ll be less likely to be bitten next time.

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A word of caution: if you feel that your cat biting you for petting her in a certain spot is unnatural (i.e., they have never responded this way before), it might be a sign that your cat is hurt or injured in that area. Start monitoring the kitty closely to ensure whether you need to take her to the vet.

How to Stop Love Bites

To prevent play biting, some training will be required. A high and prominent expression of pain, e.g., “ow!” coupled with placing the cat away at a distance, might signal to your cat that it is not okay to use teeth randomly during play, even if she is doing it playfully or gently.

Use positive reinforcement too. Reward gentle play with treats or give soft praise. Try to teach your cat that paws are okay; teeth or claws are not.

That said, this sudden biting is once again a natural instinct and should not be entirely stifled. To allow your cat to be as much of her hunter-y self as possible, provide toys that are suitable for clawing and biting. When your cat uses these toys, reward the behavior with positive feedback.

And it should be mentioned, of course, that some cat lovers like the gentle gnaw of their little furry friend!

How to Stop Kitty Bites Due to Fear

Your cat is biting you out of fear, don’t try to comfort her (sometimes accompanied by hiding constantly, meowing loudly, having stiff legs, or flattening ears), as this might be misconstrued as praise for biting.

Rather, if you think your cat is frightened due to new circumstances (e.g. new people or pets in the house), try to make them feel familiar by giving them treats with your hand. We discussed this above.

Final Thoughts

So, why do cats bite? You might find that the answer is different from what you would expect. In most cases, it’s not a cause for concern and can be resolved through some correctional training.

That said, do keep in mind that your cat might be biting you as a response to an injury or a medical condition and might require your attention. And remember, if you sustain a cat bite, you must sterilize the area immediately to prevent the possibility of an infection.

Good luck, and we wish your fur baby a long and happy life!