Why Do Cats Bite?

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Cats are very playful and interactive. They love to play with their owners, but you might feel surprised and hurt by some of their habits, especially biting. Why do cats bite? This normal cat behavior can be caused by many different things, and isn’t always a bad thing.

» You might be interested in How to Train Your Cat to Use the Litter Box and Why Do Cats Eat Grass?

why do cats bite

Why Do Cats Bite?

Cats bite for many reasons. You can interpret what your cat is trying to say when she bites, if you look at body language and her history. It’s not always a bad thing. In fact, most of the time a cat bites is because you’ve done something they don’t like, such as over-petting, leaving them outside too long, or not paying enough attention to them.

That means, most of a cat’s biting can be alleviated by stopping doing whatever is causing them to become aggressive. And the biting that isn’t caused by you can be stopped through behavioral training. In this article, we will be discussing some of the reasons why cats bite. In the latter part, we will discuss how to stop your cat from biting.

Natural Instinct

Cats are friendly and enjoy playing with other humans and pets. This has made them one of the most popular domestic pets in the world. With that being said, one must not forget that cats were once wild animals and they still retain some characters from their past.

Cats are carnivorous and even today, the cats living in the wild hunt actively. So, cats are natural hunters and even domesticated felines can show this behavior. A bite from a cat when she’s in a playful mood means she is just expressing her natural hunting instinct.

Cats that stay indoors most of the time get lesser opportunities to satisfy their instinct so they may consider your fingers, toes, or an article of furniture as their prey. You should take your cat out for a walk so that she can satisfy her instincts. This will reduce the incidence of a cat bite to much extent.

cat being held by a girl and hissing

Kitten Biting

Biting is encouraged in kittens. It is one of the essential things to teach your new kitten. Biting not only helps your kitten develop a stronger bond with littermates, but it also helps them acquire hunting skills.

Cats have an exploratory nature and they use paws, nose, and teeth to assess everything they encounter. Although your pet cat is most probably never going to need hunting skills, still these make her the perfect feline friend you want.

Although kitten biting is harmless and fun, this should not be allowed to become a permanent habit. Kitten biting becomes a problem when the cat is older than 10 weeks as the teeth emerge and they can hurt.

You should never allow your cat to bite on your toes or finger freely. You should get some chewing toys for your kitten. They are harmless and are built to fulfill the chewing instinct.

Playful Biting

Cats love to play and this is irrespective of their age. Young cats are more excited and they try to bite different things. Your cat may bite you as a means of communication or to get your attention.

This habit may become permanent with time and stay even when the cat has grown up. Bite from an adult cat can be very painful so you must try to stop this behavior at a young age.

cat hugging and nibbling on owners hand

Sudden Biting During Play

Many cat owners complain about sudden cat bites. Cats may be enjoying and having fun with the owner and all of sudden, they bite the finger of the owner. This is common but people fail to understand why this happened. Following are some of the reasons, your cat may bite you when playing

  • Cats are very sensitive and your cat didn’t like the way you touched.
  • You touched some part of the cat’s body that she didn’t want you to. For example, a touch on the tail or belly can trigger anger and self-defense behavior in your cat leading to a bite. It should be noted that this wasn’t sudden for a cat. She tried to bear this but when things got past the threshold level, she bit.

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Aggressive Biting

cat aggressive bite

Some cats act aggressively when they are around other cats or strangers. Aggression against people or other animals is unbearable and you must try to abolish this bad habit from a young age. There are several reasons your cat acts aggressively against other animals. The most common one being the territorial nature.

Felines living in the wild such as lions and tigers are very sensitive about their territory and they don’t want interference of any other animal in their territory. Domestic cats can also act aggressively when they feel their territory is under threat.

Some common signs shown by your cat before escalating to a bite include

  • Hissing
  • Spitting
  • Defensive posture i.e. arched back and fluffed tail

How to Stop Your Cat From Biting

Now that we have discussed some reasons for cat bites, let’s take a look at some steps to stop these bites.

Understanding the body language of your cat is the most important thing in the prevention of cat bites. One may think that a cat bites out of nowhere, without any stimulus, but the truth is a cat always gives a warning.

You should read the body language of your cat and understand the little actions. A swish of the tail or flattening of ears can give you an idea of the change in behavior of your cat. After observing such signs, you should get prepared for a negative reaction from your cat.

When the cat is young, introduce your cat to the family members and other pets. Socialize your cat properly. To avoid such incidents, make sure you are around your cat when she is introduced to other animals and people.

cat laying down with toy

Train your cat from a young age. Don’t let aggressive behavior flourish. The use of positive reinforcements is the best method to teach desirable habits to your cat. Positive reinforcement means to reward your cat whenever she acts desirably.

For example, if your cat gets excited when you enter the room and attacks your feet, teach her to sit and reward her with a treat whenever she follows the behavior. Positive reinforcement can help teach good habits and abolish bad habits.

Get some interactive chew toys for your cat. Biting is a natural phenomenon for a cat and fulfilling this desire is good for cats. But you don’t have to suffer by offering your hand for biting. You can give some toys for this purpose.

You should buy a variety of toys for your cat so that she doesn’t get bored with one. These toys not only save you from cat bites but also provide mental stimulation to the cat.



Even though cats do bite sometimes, it isn’t often a sign of a badly behaved cat. You can take the above steps to encourage better behavior from your cat. If you have any additional tips to share with our reader, please leave a comment below.

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A grey kitten biting a person's hand

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