Ouch, Did My Cat Just Bite Me?

Your cat may bite for many reasons; certainly she is trying to communicate something to you. It’s essential to figure out when and why a bite happens so you can avoid them in the future. Often, bites occur during petting or playing. 

A common cat parent complaint is a sudden bite that seems to happen out of the blue. But is it actually that unexpected? Often these sorts of bites happen when you’re simply petting your kitty. It can be hard to tell when she has had enough, so try and learn her body language.

For example, when she’s finished with stroking she may: put her ears flat, vocalize (other than purring), flick her tail, raise a paw, put her claws out, move her whiskers forward, or have a stiff body posture. These are all signs that you’ve petted her enough. If you ignore her body language, there may be trouble ahead. That’s when she may resort to a swat or bite to get her point across, so pay attention.

Learn to pet her in a way that she enjoys. Many cats only like petting around their heads; some prefer a back scratch. Once you know Fluffly’s petting preferences, respect them.

If bites happen when you’re playing with Fluffy, it may be that she’s become overstimulated. Make sure to keep play sessions short and sweet if your kitty gets worked up easily. Sometimes during rough play, her hunting instinct will kick in, and by biting, she’s just naturally following through with the “hunt.” This seems to happen a little more frequently with indoor cats that don’t get to hunt outside. So, bring the play down a notch, and a bite may not happen.

Reward her when she uses her mouth and paws in play correctly (no scratching or biting) with a tasty treat. This will teach her what behavior is acceptable during play.

Additionally, you could stop after a few minutes and let her calm down, then start the play again. Better yet, don’t use your hands for play – use toys instead. This shows her that your hands are NOT toys. Lastly, if you see her getting wound up, give her a toy that she can attack (like a catnip mouse). When she’s done, reward her for using her toy and not your hand (treats again).

If you take the time to learn your cat’s likes, dislikes, and triggers, you’ll be able to get this biting under control.