Cats are some of the most loving and affectionate creatures on Earth. They are also, however, some of the most fickle and moody animals. Cat lovers are special people, and people either love cats or they don’t. There doesn’t seem to be an in-between. Perhaps the reason for this is the personality traits and behaviors that are unique to cats.
Cats love to be loved, when they want it. Otherwise, they want to be left alone. This change in behavior can make it seem like they have two different personalities. When the cat is being affectionate he wants you to pet him or brush his fur. He may rub against your ankles and purr loudly.
When he is finished, though, he might turn on you. Purring can turn to hissing and biting. Rubbing against your ankles can lead to ankle biting. It’s as if somebody flips a switch and the cat changes from loveable to terrible. Read on as we answer the question, “why does my cat bite me”.
Reasons for Biting
If your cat is normally loving and affectionate, then suddenly becomes aggressive, it is possible that he is oversensitive to touch and he has become tired of the attention. Plainly speaking, he has had enough and wants to be left alone. This is particularly true with adult cats.
Another reason cats bite is because they are bothered by something. This can be a physical pain or an environmental problem. For example, a cat with a toothache or earache might bite you because he’s worried your touch will make him hurt more. Likewise, if your cat is too hot or cold, or has been hurt by something he might bite you to try make you aware of the situation.
Another reason your cat might bite you is because he is afraid of something. Common fears of cats include strangers, dogs, other cats, and loud noises. If your cat bites you or a guest in your home, it might be because his space is being invaded by a stranger. Some cats go and hide. Others act up by squalling, hissing, or biting.
Anxiety or worry can cause your cat to bite. Common situations that cause stress are trips to the vet or groomer, moving to a new home, or having major changes in the home-like a new pet or new baby moving in. To alleviate stress for your cat, introduce new things a little at a time if possible. If you can, try to relocate a litter box into a familiar place. If your cat is used to the litter box being in the laundry room, place it there in the new house. If your cat has been sleeping in your spare bedroom for years, don’t suddenly displace him so you can use the room for a new baby.
Biting among kittens is fairly common, as rough play is fun for them. If you don’t want your kitten to grow up as a biting cat, don’t use your hands to play with him. Give him other things to chew on. If he does nip at your fingers, withdraw your attention immediately.
How to Break the Habit
Never shout at your cat or physically reprimand him, even if he is biting you or others. There are better ways to discourage biting.
If your kitten is biting during play, simply say no and stop playing. If the behavior continues, say no more firmly and move away from the kitten. Introduce a toy, like a feather wand, to refocus the kitten’s attention. Above all, consistency is the key to successfully breaking a biting habit in young cats. Every time the kitten bites, you need to find a way to interrupt the behavior and redirect them to a new plaything. You can’t roughhouse sometimes and then scold them for the same behavior on their part other times.
In older cats, you need to figure out what is causing the behavior before you can correct it. If your cat is biting you to get attention, follow the same steps as you would to correct kitten behavior. Say stop and move away from the cat. Try to give him something new to focus on.
If fear or anxiety is causing the biting, try to eliminate the perceived threat. This might mean temporarily separating the cat from the situation, or it might mean leaving the cat in his comfortable place and removing the threat. This is especially true if another animal or a child is the cause of the anxiety.
If the cat is biting because of fear that can’t be avoided, like a visit to the vet, try to reassure the cat with a low, quiet voice. Be sure they are traveling in a secure pet carrier and cover it with a towel or blanket. Of course, some pets become very aggressive at the vet’s office, so if you know this happens with your cat speak with your veterinarian before you travel to the clinic to get additional advice.
If your cat’s biting is frequent, he bites hard enough to break skin, or there is a possibility the biting may be caused by pain or sickness, you should seek help from a veterinarian.
Be prepared to explain how long the problem has been going on, when it seems to be the worst, and what specific situations are most likely to lead to a bite.