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Why Do Certain Cats Respond to Petting By Biting?

cats biting
  • 29 March 2017
  • Pet Wants

At Pet Wants, we truly care about what pets want! You can call us pet-whisperers or pet scientists, but either way, we aim to help pet owners better understand and provide for their fur babies. Even though pets speak a language of their own, we can help you interpret their behavior and speak back. For instance, many cat owners have asked us why their cats respond to petting with biting.

Causes for Biting

If you’ve experienced biting from your cat while trying to pet him lovingly, don’t worry! He’s trying to talk to you. Biting is a form of communication from your cat, and you can learn to respond and even stop the aggressive behavior. Usually, if a cat bites you in response to petting, he is asking for something different. He may be overstimulated, and prefer to lay in your lap or cuddle next to you. Or, he may simply want to be petted in a different location or manner.

Cat Petting 101

Cats can be picky about where they like to be pet. Hot spots are around their scent glands (face, cheeks, and behind ears) and down their backs from head to tail. They do not typically like their tummies pet (they may take this as playful behavior, causing them to bite) or to be pet from tail to head. If you pet the same area for too long, the area can become sensitive, also inducing biting.

What You Can Do

You can learn to read your cat’s behavior to determine whether he is overstimulated or asking for a different “pet.” Usually, biting will not be the first signal your cat gives you to alert you to what he wants. Here are some signs to watch for:

1. Flicking or swishing his tail
2. Ears rotating to the side or to the back
3. Rippling fur or fur standing up
4. Body tensing

If he bites you before any of these signals, consider purchasing a back-scratcher. This should allow you to learn where and how he likes to be pet without danger of injury or pain.

If you notice any of these body language signals from your cat, stop petting him immediately, before the biting begins. Let him stay close to you and see how he relaxes. He may start bumping himself into you, which is his way of asking for a pet. This indicates that he was becoming sensitive and wants to be pet in a different area. On the other “paw,” he may have been generally overstimulated and is content to sit and cuddle with you.

Finally, if all else fails, you can speak with your veterinarian about options to help your cat relax into affection, or you can find ways to enjoy spending time with your cat without petting him.

For more information about pet nutrition or to try one of our formulas, please contact Pet Wants West Cobb at: 678-876-0005.