Many cat owners will confess to being bitten by their cats at times. A lot of people get bitten by their cats when they try to pet them. As painful as that might sound, it is a very common behaviour among cats. If you are wondering why do cats bite or if your cat can’t keep its teeth off you, this post is just for you. Let’s get started.
Why Do Cats Bite: All You Need to Know
What are the reasons that your cat might be biting you?
They are natural hunters
As part of the hunting sequence, which includes stalking the prey, chasing it, capturing or collecting it, biting it, killing it, and eating it.
Within the first point, the reason why some cats bite while playing would be included, since the game is, in part, a “training” for real life. In other words, many of the behaviors of the game are part of the predatory sequence that later makes the survival of the cat possible if it lives in the wild. That is why most of the cat toys incite movement and hunting instincts. But of course, it is one thing to understand why cats bite and quite another to understand and accept that they do so when you pet them.
My cat bit me when I went to pet it, why did it happen?
By nature, cats are less sociable animals than other domestic species such as dogs. In general, the survival strategy of the cat (when it lives in the wild) is based on hunting alone for small prey such as mice, voles and other small animals. The cat is, essentially, a solitary animal that does not usually live in a group with other animals. And this trait is part of their nature. That does not mean that in certain contexts -especially urban- colonies of stray cats are created, since in these environments, being in a group can provide greater guarantees of survival. Be that as it may, all of us who have a cat at home know that it is an independent animal and that it appreciates that we respect its space.
However, it’s understandable for you to get frustrated when your cat repeatedly tries to bite you when you pet it. The veterinarian José Luis Guerrero explains that, in feline ethology (the science that studies the natural behavior of cats), one speaks of “caress-induced aggressiveness” to describe this reaction of rejection by the cat.
“The aggressiveness induced by strokes is one of the most disconcerting behaviors of some cats, they are cats that accept and ask for strokes and attention, but respond with a bite or a scratch when they consider that they have enough.”
To explain this behavior, Guerrero talks about feline psychology:
“Cats greet us in the same way that they greet each other: they rub their heads against our hands or our legs. This behavior is called allorubbing and it is a behavior indicative of friendship. But from there to believing that the cat is asking us to touch it, it goes into an abyss “.
Actually, just because a cat rubs itself against a person does not mean that it is asking to be petted. What happens is that humans misinterpret this approach and, consequently, the cat bites or scratches to avoid unwanted caress.
How do I stop my cat from biting?
The best way to keep your cat from biting you while petting is to understand that the cat’s needs for physical contact are very different from ours. Although, as a highly social species that we are, humans enjoy physical contact, we have already said that cats belong to a different species than ours and are, by nature, solitary animals. The ethologist Rosana Álvarez explains how to improve the relationship with our cats and gives us some interesting advice on how to stop a cat from biting:
“In general, cats do not like to be touched for a long time or to be looked directly in the eyes. This will decrease your sense of control of the environment. Therefore, it is best that our contact with them is brief so that they can recover and decide what to do. For example, it is better to say a simple “hello” looking at the cat’s face, than to tell the cat everything we have done during the morning. Or if we need to touch the cat, it is preferable that we let the cat approach us and briefly stroke his head or under his jaw, but stop immediately. “
Actually, and although we are frustrated by thinking “my cat bites me when I pet it”, the solution to the problem is as simple as trying to look at the world from the perspective of a cat and understand that our cat shows us that it loves us, but only in a different way. And just like you would respect the personal space of your loved one, do the same for your cat as well.