Why do my cats bite all of a sudden while petting them?

  • I'd like to know why my cats bite all of a sudden when petting them 

  • Hi Petra,

    The reason for this kind of behaviour can vary:

    - Sometimes if a cat has been raised (from an early age) with a lack of play toys they can often view a hand as a toy and the person may allow this, and therefore the cat will continue to see it as such. To remedy this: once the bite has happened, try your best to not show emotion or react and slowly remove your hand. Either redirect the cats attention with a wand toy and continue a play session for several minutes or simply walk away. By walking away, eventually the cat gets nothing out the behaviour. By reacting with an "ouch" or "no, bad kitty" is exactly the attention cat is looking for, and is likely to continue.
    - Some cats prefer certain areas of their face and body to be "off limits", and may allow one area to be touched but not another. Cats can also be known to allow for the petting to happen - and then suddenly decide when they've had enough. This is from overstimulation. Usually, before this happens there will be other signs, such as; the tail may start to flick, ears may go flat, eyes may dilate. etc. 

    - Like humans, cats have social boundaries. When a cat approaches to rub against a leg or head bunt a person - that is the equivalent of a handshake, and thus all the cat may desire in the moment. When we mistakenly reach out to pet the cat, it may be viewed as going "overboard". As if when meeting a person for the first time - instead of a handshake, the person decides to go in for a hug instead. 

    - If this is a new behaviour, attacking the hand could be a sign of a physical ailment, especially if the cat is older. Lower tolerance of petting can be caused by pain or a neurological disorder and will be need to be assessed by a veterinarian. 




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