14 min

Why Does My Cat Bite Me?

If you’re wondering why your cat is biting you, it’s important that you first figure out the culprit before you attempt to fix it. Discover how to fix this here.

Bridget Reed

Updated December 15, 2022 • Published September 21, 2021

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Why Does My Cat Bite Me?

There are plenty of wonderful things about having a pet cat, but sometimes pet ownership comes with its challenges. One of those challenges? A cat that bites. When your cat bites you, it’s essential that you get to the bottom of why this is occurring. There is likely an underlying cause that’s leading your cat to nip. Once you find what’s leading your cat to bite you, you can take steps to make them stop this action. 

If you’re wondering why your cat is biting you, there are answers out there. The team at Pawp is passionate about helping provide you with the answers you’re looking for — whether they be medical, behavioral, or somewhere in between. Read on to gain a robust understanding of why your cat is biting you and what you can do about it. 

As previously mentioned, there are a myriad of reasons why this behavior might occur. After exploring this, read on to learn about potential causes of your cat biting you and then solutions. It’s possible for your cat to stop this behavior, but not without first getting to the root of the problem. That’s where Pawp can step in and assist. 

Why is my cat biting me?

If you’re looking for reasons why your cat is biting you, there are a few things that you should take into account. First, your cat’s age range should be examined. Cats and kittens bite for extremely different reasons. Due to this, keep in mind that suitable solutions will vary. 

While kittens typically bite as a result of a socialization problem, adult cats bite due to other causes. Kittens, for example, have to develop manners through interactions with their littermates and their mother. This is because other cats won’t deal with getting nipped. This is closely connected to the first reason why kittens specifically begin to nip.

They don’t realize they’re doing something wrong

If you have a young cat, and they haven’t had a substantial amount of socialization with other cats, there’s a good chance that they don’t realize they’re doing something wrong. 

Unfortunately, it is quite common for kittens to be taken away from their families before they have the opportunity to learn these essential manners — like when not to bite. Therefore, they simply don’t know any better. If your cat is young and biting, have patience with them: they’re still learning their manners. Kittens don’t even realize that their teeth and claws hurt. 

In addition to this, sometimes kittens use biting as a way to explore their new environment or due to their teething phase. If your kitten is young and is biting, don’t worry; with the right training, they’ll grow out of it. However, if you are worried that there are other reasons they’re biting, talking to a vet to get an opinion on the behavior is never the wrong move. 

They are trying to assert dominance

But what about if your cat is an adult and seems to have at least a basic understanding of when not to bite? That means it’s time to look into other potential causes for the biting.

One reason that cats bite is that they are attempting to assert their dominance. This also sometimes occurs if your cat feels that there is a threat nearby. If your cat nips and refuses to back down, consider this as the potential cause. 

Pawp veterinarian Dr. Laura Robinson recommends that you let your cat know gently, but firmly that you are in charge, not them. A kitten who is allowed to assert dominance, “can lead to more unwanted behavior such as urine making or scratching or biting. When kittens are small, biting doesn’t matter so much but adult cat bites can cause serious infection.”

They’re trying to communicate or demand your attention

Another potential reason that your cat is biting you is that they are using the action as a means to communicate or demand your attention. Unfortunately, sometimes your cat won’t realize that meowing will get the point across much more effectively.

This could potentially be the cause if your cat bites you and then attempts to lead you to participate in an activity with them, such as playing with a toy. And while the sentiment is positive, the reality is that getting bit isn’t!

Luckily, there are other ways your cat can communicate with you: it’s just a matter of demonstrating this. Training can make a sizable impact on your pet’s behavior. 

They’re trying to make an unwanted behavior or action stop

Lastly, there is a chance that your cat is biting you because they are trying to stop unwanted behavior or action. Sometimes, they’ll do this to a human, and sometimes they’ll do this to another animal. If this was effective during your cat’s past experiences, chances are they might try this again. 

For example, if your cat hates taking their daily medication and they bit you in the past while you gave them their pill and you stopped, they might feel this is the best way to get the behavior to stop again. If this appears to be the case, some unlearning will be necessary, but it’s not impossible. 

They’re getting playful and don’t realize it hurts

It’s important to take into consideration when the biting occurs because this can also help you piece together the puzzle. Cats are innately predators. This is due to their carnivorous diet.

Therefore, behaviors including biting, pouncing, and even clawing can come naturally to your pet. Instead, you should be sure that they have ample toys — and you can redirect their nipping you to some catnip instead. 

They’re trying to show you they love you

While it might seem counterintuitive, sometimes, a gentle bite is your cat attempting to show you that they’re fond of you. This is likely because it’s reminiscent of how your cat’s mother groomed her kittens — using small bites. Usually, this type of biting isn’t a major problem. If it becomes pervasive, however, you can reach out to a vet to discuss how to redirect this behavior. 

How can I make my cat stop biting?

The best thing that you can do is pay attention to the reason that your cat is biting. This is because each cause of biting has a different fix. When you’re trying to figure out the best solution to make your cat stop biting, there might be some trial and error.

The most important thing is to have patience with your pet: it will be worth it. There are some tips that can prove useful when you are attempting to train your cat. 

Read on and follow these steps:

Step one

The first thing you should do is inform all the people who live with the pet to have the same consistent response to biting. You should also inform visitors to your home about the proper way to respond in the case that your cat nips. This will reduce the chance that your cat gets mixed messages.

Step two

Next, it is recommended that you do not permit your pet to play with your bare fingers, hands, or toes. Instead, offer them an appropriate, safe toy. This will teach your cat that human hands are not a toy. 

Step three

Providing your cat with an interactive toy could prove to be especially helpful. Stuffed animals, for instance, are useful to mitigate this type of behavior with pets. You should also be sure that your cat has enough toys to not get bored and begin using you as a toy. Three should suffice.

Step four

Next, it is suggested that you should praise your cat when they are doing something right. You can even use a phrase such as “Good paws” or “Good mouth” when they are being gentle. In the case that your cat bites, pull away and make a noise. Please note that this isn’t a punishment, rather a way to get your pet to stop behaving in that way. 

Step five

Lastly, you should be sure to avoid physically punishing your cat, such as pushing them off of you or placing them in a different room. This can actually make a cat more aroused, which will mean that they’re more likely to fight back to protect themselves. It might also make them want to participate in rough play. 

My cat bit me. How do I treat the wound?

In the case that your cat does nip you, it’s important to know how to treat the wound. This is because there’s the potential for a cat bite to cause an infection. To reduce the risk of this happening, you should treat the bite right away.

If you get bit, the best thing to do is to visit a doctor. This is due to how cat bites can introduce harmful bacteria into the human body. Unfortunately, you can even get the dreaded “cat scratch fever” from a bite. 

If you have an infection from the bite, signs can begin to show up in just a few hours. It’s particularly risky for your joints, hands, and tendons. That’s why immediate, swift action is required.

The first thing you should do is flush out the bacteria. Do this by pressing the wound. This will likely make you bleed more but will help force bacteria out. Once you’ve done that, wash with soap and water. Be sure the cloth you’re using is clean. 

Once you’ve done that, it is recommended that you visit a doctor. Sometimes, they’ll prescribe antibiotics and give you a tetanus booster if yours is old. Follow your doctor’s suggestions and be sure to monitor the area for infections. If anything changes, follow up with the doctor pronto. 

When to talk to a vet about your cat's biting

If you find that training your cat to stop biting is unsuccessful, you might want to follow up with a vet to get their professional opinion on the situation. The vets at Pawp know that sometimes training a pet can be trying, and that’s why they are here to help. Don’t hesitate to reach out with any training or behavioral questions! 


Reasons Why Cats Bite and How to Stop It | The Spruce Pets  

Why does my cat bite me unprovoked? | Vet Help Direct  

Here’s How to Train a Cat to Do 5 Life-Changing Things | Readers Digest 

How to Introduce and Socialize Cats and Kittens | ASPCA

Zoonotic Disease: What Can I Catch from My Cat? | Cornell

What You Should Do for a Cat Bite or Scratch | Cleveland Clinic

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