Find out why your cat bites you

Why do cats bite you in the middle of a petting session? (Picture: Getty)

Cat owners will tell you that the relationship between them and their feline friend is often one of unrequited love.

All cats are like Geminis – they seem to have split personalities. One minute they’re nudging you for cuddles, the next their biting your hand off.

But why do our moody moggies bite, scratch, and hiss – and how can you prevent another cat attack?

Here is all you need to know.

Why do cats bite?

Anita Kelsey, cat behaviourist and author of Let’s Talk About Cats, told Metro.co.uk that cats hiss, scratch, and bite as a ‘warning’.

She said: ‘Cats hiss as a warning to back off. If a cat is feeling threatened/ cornered or their warning hiss has been ignored, they will most likely resort to biting and scratching.

cat biting its owner

These actions are ‘warning’ signs (Picture: Getty)

‘These actions are usually defensive actions but they can also be offensive actions, such as when a neighbourhood bully cat picks a fight with another cat over territory.

‘Cats’ main weapons of defense are their teeth and claws.’

Aggressive biting often happens during a petting session, when the human companion either doesn’t understand or ignores the cat’s body language.

Cats don’t have any way to communicate that they want the petting to stop, and so opt for hissing, biting, or scratching as a way of expressing their wishes.

However, there may be other instances when cats display this kind of behaviour.

Clinical animal behaviourist Trudi Atkinson explained to Metro.co.uk: ‘Biting and scratching can occur during misguided predatory type play.’

She added that kittens learn to bite and scratch as a normal part of development, and if not trained early, will not know when using their claws and teeth is not appropriate.

One of the first rules for new cat owners is to never teach your cat that hands or feet are toys.

As kittens, their little bites and scratches won’t hurt, but this will change as they grow older and bigger.

Instead, you should encourage your pet to play with toys.

To avoid bites and scratches in the future, you need to learn your cat’s warning signs.

An annoyed cat typically signals its feelings with narrowed eyes, pulled-back ears, lashing tail, or hissing – watch out for your cat’s signals and stop whatever you’re doing to prevent an escalation.

You should also learn and respect your cat’s boundaries, so that you don’t trigger an attack.

kitten playing with a toy

Fear the ferocious feline (Picture: Getty)

For some cats, the trigger may be petting them on the belly, petting them for too long, or being too ruff when petting, the list goes on.

Learn what your cat enjoys and doesn’t and follow their lead when petting them.

What to do if a cat scratches or bites you

If your feline friend attacks, then you need to ensure you clean the wound out as cat claws and teeth can carry all kinds of bacteria.

Wash the wound gently with soap and water, or wipe it down with medical alcohol.

Then, apply pressure with a clean towel to the injured area to stop any bleeding – this will also help to numb the pain a little.

Next, apply a sterile bandage or plaster to the wound to stop it from getting infected.

If the wound swells, becomes discoloured, or doesn’t stop hurting or bleeding then you should visit your GP.

You shouldn’t discipline your cat as they do not bite or hurt out of malice – it is typically a reaction to them being angry or scared.


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