Why Do Cats Bite?

Veterinarians and behaviorists will tell you that cats bite for many reasons. If you’ve had a cat for any amount of time, you’ve probably experienced it for yourself. One of my cats in particular bites me quite frequently. She gives love bites when she’s feeling affectionate and angry chomps when she’s over stimulated. The first is cute and endearing. The second is totally my fault.

I usually receive love bites in the bathroom. She becomes strangely affectionate while watching me floss, brush my teeth and wash my face. She rubs against my legs and meows for attention until I stop what I’m doing and kneel down to stroke her. She’ll then jump up on her hind legs to bonk me with her head. This is generally followed by loud purring and a gentle-ish chomp on the tip of my nose or eyebrow (and lots of giggling on my end).

The angry chomps happen when I’m not paying attention to her body language. Her veterinarian said these bites are caused by petting-induced aggression. Some cats like a lot of petting, while others prefer less. Most like being stroked around their head and neck, while others don’t want you to touch their bellies, backs or hindquarters. Some will jump off your lap and walk away when they’ve had enough. Others, like mine, will lash out with claws or teeth to get you to stop.

If I’m distracted and don’t respond to her tense body, lashing tail, flattened ears and rippling back, I get an angry chomp. I’ve learned not to pull my hand away, as that only makes her bite harder. Without luck, I’ve tried to determine exactly how many strokes I can get in before she becomes agitated. It’s never the same. I think she likes to keep me guessing.

Does your kitty give love bites or angry chomps? How do you know when she’s feeling affectionate or ready to lash out? Let us know in the comments.

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