Cats are weird animals, to say the least. One moment they’re bouncing off the walls; the next, they’re kneading your stomach while you nap. While most cat owners have learned to live with this weirdness, one habit is still perplexing: nibbling on their owner’s fingers.
It’s easy to think that your cat might just be hungry. However, even after feeding them, don’t be surprised to find them still gnawing at your fingers. But why do they do that? Keep reading to find out the main reasons why they do that.
The 9 Likely Reasons Your Cat Chews on Your Fingers
1. It’s Showing Love and Affection
Cats show their affection in different ways, and gently biting your fingers is one of them. These “love bites” are your cat’s way of showing you they love and cherish you. It could be a behavior they learned from their mothers while they were kittens. Mother cats tend to nibble their kittens to release excess energy or show affection.
This chewing behavior, borrowed from their mothers, is no cause for alarm. However, when the bites start to hurt, it’s okay to move your hand or give your cat a gentle push. This is an effective way to teach your cat about limits.
2. Your Cat Is Just Playing
Cats are playful creatures and won’t pass up an opportunity to play. So when you start moving your hand near a cat, don’t be surprised if it pounces on your hand. This is a way for them to release excess energy and hone their hunting skills.
It’s worth noting that even if you keep your cat within the confines of your apartment, their hunting instincts will still flare up. They simply can’t resist pouncing and biting on your hand when the opportunity presents itself. Remember, play is integral to keeping your cat mentally and physically stimulated, so don’t be too hard on them when they gnaw on your fingers for a while.
3. Your Cat Is Overstimulated
Most cat owners have been there before. One moment you’re gently stroking your cat; the next, they turn their heads and give you a quick nip. If this happens, it’s a sign that you accidentally overstimulated them.
If you pet your cat a little too much, you’ll end up stimulating its nerve ending. This automatically triggers them into attack mode, hence the bite. To avoid this, consider petting your cat a lot less. One day, the nibble might turn into a full-on bite.
4. Your Cat Is Teething
Your kittens will start teething when they’re about 10 weeks to 6 months old, starting with the incisors. They’re likely to experience some discomfort when these teeth start to erupt, and biting your fingers is a way of easing this discomfort.
If that’s the case, then you should consider getting your kitten something other than your fingers to chew on. There are plenty of chew toys available in local pet stores that your kitten will love. But if the chewing doesn’t bother you, then let them chew your fingers, but first, make sure they’re clean.
5. You Weaned It Too Early
Kittens wean for about 8 weeks before adopting a mature diet. However, they will seek other ways to replicate the suckling if you wean them too soon. If you show them your fingers, they will most likely suckle and nibble at them.
This is just a way for your cat to soothe itself, and there’s nothing particularly wrong with it doing so. However, if you find it uncomfortable, you can always find something else for it to suckle on. A soft toy is great, but make sure you sanitize it to avoid any health issues.
6. Your Cat is Stressed
A stressed cat will explore different avenues to release all the stress and tension that has welled up inside it. One of them might be chewing your fingers to soothe their anxiety. Again, this is normal behavior, and you have no reason to worry if the chewing doesn’t hurt. If you don’t like the chewing, find your cat a chew toy they can use to self-soothe.
7. Your Fingers Smell Like Food
You’re almost done cooking, and now it seems like your cat can’t get enough of your fingers. This isn’t your pet being overly affectionate. It’s because your fingers smell like food.
Felines can’t resist the urge to bite on something that smells like good food, especially when hungry. They’ll likely sniff and lick your finger first before they go for the bite. The only solution is to feed your cat, and it’ll leave you in peace. Alternatively, you could just wash your hands after cooking strongly scented food.
8. Your Cat Likes Chewing Stuff
Maybe the reason your cat can’t get enough of your fingers is that it likes to chew on different things. Cats love to explore different foods and textures with their teeth. Your hand isn’t out of the question, so they’ll certainly have a go if they get the opportunity.
Get a tough rubber or a chew toy for your cat to chew on in place of your fingers. Also, if you notice your cat loves to chew on different things, be sure to keep them away from electric cables and poisonous substances.
9. Your Cat Is Bored
Sometimes your cat will chew your fingers out of boredom. Cats love to nap, but when they wake up, they’re bursting with energy and eager for play. If you’re unwilling to play, they’ll force playtime by biting your fingers.
The best thing to do is to fish out your cat’s favorite toy.
Does My Cat Hate Me If It Chews on My Fingers?
No, your cat doesn’t hate you if it gives your finger a little nibble. In fact, it might be your cat’s way of showing love. As your cat grows older, the chewing starts to hurt a bit. That’s why it’s important to curb this behavior early on before it gets out of hand. A little nudge should discourage your cat from biting on your fingers.
Your cat chewing on your fingers is perfectly normal and isn’t something to worry about. However, introducing a chew toy should solve the problem if you can’t stand the chewing. Alternatively, you could try finding a playmate for your cat to play with when bored.
If your cat bites you to the point of bleeding, seek prompt medical treatment. Also, talk to a licensed vet to help curb this behavior. Otherwise, you shouldn’t mind a little nibbling. It’s probably your cat showing some love.
Featured Image Credit: SerPhoto, Shutterstock