September 06, 2018 6 min read

Most cat owners and those who have tried to pet someone’s favorite home cat or a street cat have been faced with sudden aggression and an attempt to bite or scratch. Such behavior in relation to a stranger can be attributed to the instinct of self-preservation but in relation to loving owners seems like unmotivated aggression.

In fact, this behavior can have many causes and not all of them are associated with poor nurture or bad inclinations of a fluffy home resident.

Anyone who is confronted with such behavior in some way is interested in two things: why the cat bites, and how to wean the cat off attacking its owners and guests of the house.

Causes of the Cat’s Aggressive Behavior

If a cat bites, the owners are often partially blamed. However, the shortcomings of upbringing, the characteristics of the animal’s nature itself, circumstances or objective reasons may be the reason for such a behavior. In order to know how to wean a domestic cat off biting you need to figure out what makes it do this and identify ways to avoid it. 

Most Often, Cats Bite for the Following Reasons: 

Scared.An animal may show aggression if it is suddenly frightened, for example, by petting during deep sleep. In such a situation, the cat bites and scratches, and even attacks the owners. 

Pain. If a cat is in pain, it can instinctively respond to the sore spot being touched with a bite. Often this happens when the cat does not allow the petting, and the person insists on doing so.  The animal may bite painfully to show its displeasure.

Hunting instinct. It is this that makes the cat “hunt” on the hands and feet of the guests moving around the apartment, grab the hand of a sleeping child and run after any moving target.

Insult.If a cat is unjustly punished, it can hold a grudge. Sometimes it does not attack right away, but waits for a while, then catches up and bites the owner’s legs completely unexpectedly for him. 

Negative associations and memories.If a cat is often petted before proceeding with unpleasant and painful procedures for it, soon any touch can be perceived by it as a sign of a subsequent unpleasant thing. 

Dissatisfaction with the actions of the human. Often, cats bite when they are petted to show they do not want any bodily contact. Especially often this happens when the cat licks. Washing itself, it seeks to remove extraneous odors from its fur, and the touch of the hands nullifies all its work.

A cat can scratch and bite if it believes that a person smells unpleasant. It can be either perfume or just the smell of hand cream, very attractive and weak for a person, but terribly aggressive and pungent for the delicate nose of an animal.

A domestic cat can attack strangers, perceiving them as a threat, especially if it had already suffered from the actions of guests, for example, if it was hit or shouted at, expelled from a room or taken away from its favorite resting place.

A game.In this case, the cat first caresses and then bites the person. For a predator, this is normal behavior; just remember a cat playing with caught prey, licking and releasing it at first, and then attacking and biting again, until it finishes it. The playing animal often catches up with a fast-moving person and grabs his legs, perceiving them as an object of hunting.

Pregnancy and feeding, protection of kittens.Cats are excellent mothers; they will frantically protect their offspring from the encroachments of a much larger creature than themselves. Pregnant and lactating females have the extremely exacerbated maternal instinct, so the owner may also become the victim of an attack.

Too close a look. In the animal world, this is a sign of threat and aggression, so in most cases, the cat attacks and often bites the nose or strikes for the eyes.

        After finding out why the cat bites from time to time or constantly, you can understand how to cope with this, removing the cause of aggression.

There are several ways to stop a cat biting and scratching:

Do not disturb the animal while it is resting.

Do not beat or shout at it.

If the cat is guilty, you cannot punish it after a while. Poke the cat into the puddle made by it immediately after the “crime” and do it without violence. Cats are very smart, so simply drag them to the “crime scene” to help them realize their guilt.

Teaching kittens is even easier. If they did something wrong, slap a folded newspaper in front of their nose (don’t hit the animal, slap next to it!) Soon they will develop an understanding of the inadmissibility of such actions, including bites.

Pay attention to the bodily signals and sounds of the animal. Often, the cat caresses in order to get a treat or if it is hungry. Not getting what it wants, it can bite in irritation. The same thing happens if a hungry animal waits too long, or it seems to it that it is being ignored. A bite is a way to remind you about it, so be attentive to your pets. A well-fed and satisfied animal rarely shows signs of aggressive behavior.

Sometimes the owners ask the question why the cat bites without any visible reason. There is always a reason; we can simply not see it or not understand it. For example, an animal may be sick, or the environment for it is unbearable due to noise, loud music or home scandals, the cat is tortured by children, it is not fed in time, the tray isn’t cleaned timely, and so on.

Create optimal conditions for the animal to live, and the desire to bite will disappear. 

Rules for Treating Biting Animals 

 is no definite answer on the question of what to do if the cat bites you. One can only say that you cannot punish a predator physically when the psychological approach brings good results. You can “take offense” at your biting pet and not to communicate with it for a while. Cats are very sensitive and perfectly understand the mood of the owner, and they are able to feel guilty.

In a situation where the cat bites when playing, you just need to give it a toy, making it clear that this level of the game does not suit you.

In a situation where the cat bites when playing, you just need to give it a toy, making it clear that this level of the game does not suit you.

The question of what to do if a cat bites when you try to pet it can be answered like this: first of all, you need to make sure that it is healthy. If it simply does not want to be disturbed, leave the cat alone. Being in the mood, it will come to your knees. 

What if a pregnant or nursing cat bites? Just try to disturb the animal as little as possible, don’t let the children near the kittens because having heard her kitten crying, the mother can forget everything and even attack the child. A pregnant cat or cat family need to be given the quietest and most secluded corner in the house.

A good way to “bring up” the cat biting without reason is to take it “by the scruff” and shake slightly. This is how a cat-mother acts with her kittens, so it is cut in their memory that they did wrong.

As for the consequences of an attack on the hands and feet, then if a person is bitten by a healthy domestic cat with all the vaccinations, it is enough to wash the wounds with hydrogen peroxide and wet it with alcohol. All owners of cats need to remember that scratches and bites cannot be washed with water, otherwise, they will definitely inflame, and the infection will spread.

The bite of a stray animal presents a direct threat of rabies and the occurrence of other dangerous diseases, therefore, it is necessary to immediately go to the hospital.

Kawaii Meow
Lover of Japanese culture, cats, and self-help hacks. The biggest cat online store.


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