Why is my cat biting me? Here’s why your cat randomly attacks you
Cats are a wonderful addition to any home, pets bringing warmth, love and a playful sense of fun.
However, a less welcome trait is when felines attack humans in their homes, seemingly out of the blue.
The good news is that by understanding the psychology of why kittens try to sink their teeth into our hands, you can help change this behavior.
Zazie Todd, author of the next book Purr: the science to make your cat happyreassures readers that it’s never pleasant when cats attack, “there’s plenty to do.”
She said Newsweek“This involves paying close attention to your cat’s body language so you learn to recognize the signs before they happen, and it also helps give your cat choices.
“There are several things that could happen if it seems like your cat is randomly attacking you.”
Why does your cat bite you? Newsweek asked the experts why your pet can sometimes cross the line between healthy interaction and aggressive play.
Why does my cat bite me without provocation?
There are at least six reasons why your cat may bite or attack you and some of them may be your fault!
Pam Johnson-Bennett, author and expert at Cat Behavior Associates, describes felines as “predators stimulated by the smell, sight, or sound of potential prey.”
Typically, outdoor cats that depend on hunting for survival engage in a number of attempts each day.
Cats that are kept safely indoors still retain this prey drive, but often have no way to release this energy.
She said Newsweek“If a cat is not receiving adequate stimulation and play opportunities through frequent play opportunities and environmental enrichment, they may ultimately have to vent all of that pent up energy to any detected movement.
“Sometimes this movement is of the cat owner’s feet or ankles. It’s a sign that the cat needs more constructive and beneficial ways to engage and satisfy the prey drive.”
She added a simple solution to this unwanted act of aggression for interactive play sessions with cat toys conducted at least twice a day.
Johnson-Bennett added, “Use a fishing rod-type toy to put distance between the cat’s teeth/claws and the owner’s hands. This type of play will allow the cat to fully enjoy what it means to be a hunter. “
Zazie Todd notes how many cat owners anecdotally observe that felines sometimes attack when petted.
She said: “It’s a sign that the petting has gone on too long or was unwanted, and the cat would like you to stop.
“Cats generally prefer shorter petting sessions, so when petting your cat, try to keep it short and sweet.
“Always give your cat the choice to walk away if she prefers not to be petted.
“It’s also better to encourage the cat to come and be petted rather than going towards it.”
Feline expert Celia Haddon adds that some cats “just don’t like to be touched in certain parts of the body” and that feline body language is misinterpreted by their owners.
She said Newsweek“Cats will sometimes lay down in front of you in a friendly gesture. But that doesn’t mean they want to rub their bellies. Try it and they’ll rake you with their claws.
“Parts of the body that cats often dislike being touched are the belly, the back below the tail and the lower back just before the tail. Some also hate having their paws stroked.
“The best place to pet a cat is gently on the cheeks or under the chin. If you pet it in the wrong place, it may pinch you.”
Lack of human interaction during early ages
Haddon adds that cats have, for some reason, sometimes had insufficient contact with humans as kittens, which can manifest as bad behavior.
She said: “They need to meet humans in the first eight weeks of life and if they don’t they will be afraid of humans.
“Normally they run away and hide under the bed. But if you fish them out from underneath, they will bite or scratch.
“If given a choice between flight and fight, they will normally choose flight. But if they cannot escape, they will stand and fight.
“Signs that a cat is scared are ears tilting to the side of the head, body crouched and tense, feet under the body ready to run, tail low and between the legs.”
Zazie Todd thinks another, more intuitive possibility of painful finger pinching is “your cat is scared of you or something you are doing.”
She said: “Cats prefer to run and hide when something is stressful, but if that’s not possible they may feel like they have to fight.
“So stop what you’re doing and figure out how to help your cat. For example, if you need to put him in his carrier to go to the vet, you may be able to gently wrap him in a towel and put him in some this way.
“In the future, you can train your cat to like going to their carrier and keep the carrier outside at all times so that it becomes a place where they can relax.”
“You can also talk to your vet about how to make vet visits easier for your cat.”
Celia Haddon advises that a sudden attack is not the human’s fault at all and could simply be the case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
She said: “They might attack you because they saw another cat through the window, they wanted to attack it but when you approached them they turned on you.
“Redirected aggression. Or you picked them up in a catfight – still dangerous!
“They’re full of rage about something else, but you’re getting in their way.
“Rage and anger in cats or humans take a long time to simmer. If you have to intervene in a cat fight, use something like the bottom cushion of a sofa and place it between the two bodies. N ‘don’t use your hands.’
Fear / Old Age
Ashley Moss of Embrace Pet Insurance, with six years of experience as a veterinary neurology and emergency medicine technician, thinks this is sometimes justified by the fear that she is about to be attacked.
She said Newsweek“When a cat is unprovoked and attacks a human, it’s usually because that cat was in what I like to call, ‘alert mode’ for a perceived threat.
“A perceived threat to our cat is not always identifiable to us, it could be something like hearing a noise outside or a pen that has fallen on the ground and it is often something that does not signal to us. of danger but can signal a danger for our cat.
“The greater the perceived threat, the more focused they become, such that they may not recognize their loving owner’s hand reaching for a pet, leading them to attack their human’s hand.”
Haddon suspects that old age may be linked to a greater fear of perceived threats than usual.
She said: “If a previously friendly cat starts attacking, they may be in pain and afraid of humans touching them.
“This is especially likely in an older cat with arthritis or another disease of old age.”
And Pam Johnson-Bennett seems to agree, adding that if the attacks are displays of aggression, “it’s important that the cat has a veterinary exam because there may be an underlying medical reason for the behavior. is an important step that should not be overlooked.”
How do I stop my cat from biting and attacking me?
Zazie Todd suggests that there are several warning signs to look out for when petting your cat.
She says: “[These] include them staring at your hand, their tail twitching or thrashing, or the skin rippling.
“If you watch your cat’s body language, you can learn to stop petting at the first sign that she finds it too much.”
Celia Haddon agrees, adding that it’s important to be armed with the reasons behind the attacks, as well as the warning signs.
She said: “Cat attacks are rarely random. It’s just that humans don’t see the signs of it happening.
Zazie Todd also notes that it’s important to respect your cat, no matter how annoying and even painful their weird behavior may be.
She said: “Never punish your cat as it may damage their relationship with you and make them feel stressed or anxious.
“If they seem to randomly attack you, it’s up to you to look for clues and figure out what’s going on, then do something to help your cat feel more comfortable.”