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Home > Cats > What Does It Mean When a Cat Bites You? 12 Reasons & Tips

What Does It Mean When a Cat Bites You? 12 Reasons & Tips

Cat bite arm

Cats can be cute, cuddly balls of fluff that we can’t love enough. Then there are other times when our cats can show us another side of them we didn’t expect. Often these other sides take us by surprise. You can simply be walking through your house, hearing your kitty purr softly. You reach down, thinking your cat is wanting your attention, then suddenly, instead of enjoying your pet, your cat lashes out and bites you. This kind of behavior can come at the oddest times leaving you to wonder what it means when your cat bites you. Let’s take a look at this behavior and learn some of the common reasons our cats bite us.


The 12 Reasons Your Cat Bites You

1. A Cat’s Age/Breed

While a kitten is both a treasure and a menace in most homes, it’s due to them being so young. They don’t know how to act yet. If the cat in your home bites you out of the blue and they are only a kitten, it could be their way of learning the ropes or dealing with teething pain. Typically, however, this kind of rough play usually goes away after the cat is 4 months of age or older. You’ll also find that certain cat breeds have more of a tendency for this type of aggression due to their genetics.

2. Changes in the Environment

We all know cats are notoriously creatures of habit. They aren’t fans of change in their homes or environments. When these types of changes take place, it can put them under lots of stress that affects their behavior. Stress is a great catalyst for making your cat lash out. Simple things such as a new baby in the home, a new pet, or even construction going on outside can trigger your kitty’s nerves and make them bite unsuspectedly.

3. Playing

We mentioned that kittens often don’t realize how to play and accidentally bite us instead. However, adult cats do know what they’re doing and sometimes they want to play rough. This is because they love to pounce, stalk, and have fun when they are playing. If you want to avoid getting bitten at times like this, use toys to play with your cat instead.

Cat bite arm
Image Credit: Madame-Moustache, Shutterstock

4. Fearfulness

It’s a natural reaction for a cat to bite if they are afraid. This can happen if you bring a new pet into the house or visitors come by. If your cat isn’t comfortable, fear can take over. You or the people visiting the home may decide to reach out to pet the cat and be met with a bite. This isn’t your cat’s fault. It is simply its way of telling you they are scared and don’t want to be bothered.

5. Copycat Behavior

We’ve all heard the phrase “copycats.” This is thanks to cats being overly sensitive to our emotions. If they witness an argument in the house or they have an aggressive owner, the cat may react aggressively as well. This can often lead to unexpected and unwanted bites.

6. Wanting Affection

If your cat wants you to show them a little affection and you don’t, you can expect your kitty to get upset. Any cat owner out there knows we must bend to their will. When your kitty wants a little love, and you ignore them, a bite isn’t unusual. It’s your cat’s way of getting your affection when they want it.

cat playing with woman hand and biting with funny emotions
Image Credit: Sozina Kseniia, Shutterstock

7. Love Bites

While it may seem odd, cats often show affection by lightly biting you. These bites aren’t usually hard and don’t break the skin. Love bites are many kitties’ ways of loving their owner and being affectionate.

8. Your Cat Is Grooming You

When a cat loves you, they often want to show that by grooming you. This is due to them enjoying it themselves. While the feel of their tongue can be a bit sandpapery, it’s not unusual to experience the occasional bite during this process. When a cat runs into a particularly bad mat in their fur, they bite it out. Biting is a part of grooming in the kitty world.

9. Practicing Their Hunting Skills

Cats are predators. While we want to see them as cuties that lounge on our sofas, that’s not always the case. Think about how your cat acts when a mouse is in the house or even a fly. Instantly, your kitty kicks into hunt mode. For cats that don’t get the chance to hone these hunting skills, a little attack on their owners isn’t far-fetched.

cat lay on ground prepare to play and bite man's foot
Image Credit: Chomphuphucar, Shutterstock

10. Setting Boundaries

Every cat is different. One cat may love being petted while another may despise it. Biting is often the way a cat sets boundaries with those in the family. If you pet a cat in a spot they don’t like or they simply don’t like petting in general, you will get bit. You’ll also find they don’t mind setting the same boundaries with anyone who comes into the home and tries to pet them.

11. Basic Needs Aren’t Being Met

If your cat is hungry and you aren’t feeding them fast enough or you haven’t cleaned the litter box, a bite could be the way they tell you something is wrong. Cats are not patient. They will not wait around for you to meet their needs. If constant meowing isn’t your cat’s go-to, biting may be the answer.

12. Your Cat Isn’t Feeling Well

Cats can feel bad from time to time. Perhaps your kitty has an upset tummy or is aching in some way. If you walk up and pet your kitty when they are under the weather, they could bite in retaliation. Always watch your kitty’s actions. They can’t tell us when they are sick. It’s up to us to notice and take the proper steps.



Now that we’ve shared the common reasons your cat may bite you, understanding your kitty should be easier. You can take a look at what’s happening in your home to determine what is making your cat lash out and how you can remedy it. Always remember to pay close attention to your cat’s behavior and if there are sudden changes. If you notice any changes or are concerned about your cat’s behavior, reach out to your veterinarian for assistance.

Featured Image Credit: Julia Pavaliuk, Shutterstock

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