Why Does My Cat Bite Me?

Last Updated on April 13, 2020

You may have googled this and found a huge amount of different answers and responses. While we know cats can bite out of love, fear, anger, or just out of being playful, the annual number of cat bites each year in the US is 40,000! So what gives? Ailurophobia (fear of cats) is more common than you may think and I believe it comes down to the fact that cats can bite for many reasons. In an effort to cover all aspects of cats biting humans, I will break down each reason with a logical explanation. I hope this brings you closer to your feline friends and you gain a better understanding of just why they may bite!


When a cat bites out of fear, it is likely because they feel trapped or in danger. This happens a lot with stray and wild cats. They may feel they are in danger by you and will strike with their paws and even bite or snap at your hands.

Fear biting can happen with an indoor cat as well. This can happen if you suddenly startle your cat or someone they don’t know tries to be friendly with them. Cats are a lot like humans with trust which is why it is important to understand that mistrust and fear go hand in hand.


Cats who do not trust you or someone else tend to have an underlying reason why. A lot of the time, it stems from abuse. A cat who was abused by one human may have trouble trusting another or any even. This can also be the case with a specific sex. Some cats will have trouble trusting men, while others may struggle trusting women. Children may be an issue as well. One small mishap with a child and the cat might never look at them “small humans” the same again.


Territorial biting happens when you are invading your cat’s private space. Some cats will have a preferred time to cuddle and play, so when you want to and they don’t, you are crossing the line. They will likely give you warning signs before this happens so be sure to listen for belly growls, watch for a strong tail wag, and be cautious of raised paws.


Cats will often use their mouth to show affection as well as to play. These “love bites” don’t typically hurt but if your cat grew up as a kitten viewing this as acceptable behavior whilst playing, they are more likely to bite harder.

You will often see cats doing this with each other during play. It can look pretty rough as if they are hurting each other but most of the time, they are not. If one is getting hurt, it will back off.


Some medical issues can make certain parts of your cat’s body sensitive. For an example, arthritis in the legs or paws can make them so sensitive, even getting close to them will make them bite. Don’t take it personally. If you had stomach pain and someone was going to poke you right in the gut, you would be on edge too!


Just like us humans, cats have sensitive spots. Some will not like their tail being touched, or their belly. A trigger spot may even be their ears or getting too close to their eyes. Think of it this way, if you have an extremely ticklish spot and someone goes to touch it, you will jump and feel uncomfortable. It doesn’t mean you are mad but you would warn them to stop, right? This is a warning bite that they don’t want that area touched. Plain and simple.


Cats who are not fixed will go through raises and drops of hormones. This can cause them to be over playful, over paranoid, or overly aggressive. Some pregnant females will actually become so aggressive or on edge, that they will attack their owners for getting near their food, bed, or their nesting area.

Cats who are not fixed and also trapped inside can become frustrated as they are wanting to mate and unable to have access to other cats they can smell outside.


I bet you didn’t know dogs aren’t alone with this one! Back, neck and tail biting from one cat to another is a dominance bite. If you see one cat jump at another and bite its back aggressively, it is telling the other one that they are above them and this area is their own. Did you know they will do this for you too? This can be the face, arm, leg, foot, or hand biting. It is a quick strike bite that is pretty hard. They don’t always growl or moan but their tail will be in an aggressive manner.

While those are the main reasons for biting, it can happen for no reason at all. Feline depression can cause a cat to bite, or one who has separation anxiety, heck even a bipolar cat will bite! For more information on depression and how to spot it, read our post: 6 Signs of Depression in Cats

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6 thoughts on “Why Does My Cat Bite Me?”

  1. Hi guys and thank you for the article! I am currently researching a lot about the topic, since my wife and I have quite a “physical” cat…but not in the good sense. Joey bites us almost on a daily basis and we have no idea why! It does sometimes happen during playtime, and we do experience the same “playtime” bites as you have described in your post. Sadly, these quickly evolve into real bites!
    One thing that has really stuck with me over the past 2 days and that I wanted to ask you about is the following: I read in this blog post that it’s possible for a cat to bite one simply because he doesnt like you. Now that put a little knife in my heart and I am afraid Joey doesnt like us. We treat him really well, sometimes cook for hi, play regularly and try to be as good to him as possible. Can you maybe tell me, whether you have ever had the experience of a cat just generally disliking its owner? Would love to hear a no..but please be honest. Greatly appreciate your feedback here, thank you!

    • Thanks for your comment Rudolph. This sounds like he is simply being dominant. There is no true “like” or “dislike” with cats. If he feared you or felt threatened by you, you would know it. Seeing that he plays with you and accepts food from you, it just sounds like he is trying to tell you he is in charge. This doesn’t mean he doesn’t like you or your wife, he just wants it to be known that you are in his territory, not the other way around.

  2. We fell in love with our little ball of fluff the moment we saw her. Although I was told she was 6 1/2 weeks. I seriously had my doubts when we brought her home. She was in starvation mode and was constantly looking to nurse. She was very aggressive to the point of biting hard out of anger when she could not nurse. I soon realized this kitten was taken to soon from her mother. These people were just in the business of making money and here we were with this little one and I had to be her momma. They claimed she was eating dry food. She wasn’t. She could barely chew it. So I went out and bought kitten milk and soft food. She was starving and felt like bones under all that hair. I tried the bottle but it just wasn’t working but I was able to teach her to lap it up. She took in so much air I had to burp her after every meal. Now I am telling you all of this to show you her background and if it has any bearings on her behavior now. She has come a long way. She has put on weight, uses the litter box and has been disciplined when her play becomes to agressive. She has numerous toys to play rough with but we never use our hands in play. She also has a cat tree and her own hiding spot. We spoil and love her a great deal and she reciprocatea. I would guess she is now 6 1/2 weeks. So here is the problem. At times she will go into the red zone for apparently no reason. It is not out of play. I have had cats before and this is definite aggression. Here is an example. I was sweeping with the broom in the kitchen and had swept the dirt into the dust pan. Tai- Lee throws herself into the dust pan and starts wallowing around. I was annoyed but found it more humorous than anything. I picked her up and proceeded to get the dirt off of her. She started to growl but I needed to finish cleaning her before I set her loose
    The next thing I know she grab my hand and bit my thumb hard! She drew blood. She was angry. So I disiplined firmly by saying no in a loud voice. I had to hold her like a momma cat to calm her down but this had the complete opposite affect.She went crazy! This usually calms a kitten down but not her. She then wet herself. I have never seen anything like this before but then again I have never raised one so young. She is not abused but acts like at times that she comes from an abusive background. She in all honesty goes feral! Then in the next few minutes is all loving and playful. We all have invested so much emotionally and she has more loving moments than absolute rage. We want to help her but quite honestly none of us are sure what to do.We can’t have an adult cat go ballistic like that for simple things like cleaning her up. The funny thing is I probably could have done the same thing a few days before and nothing would have happened. That is the hard part. Her anger is unpredictable. I will be taking her to the vet for her first visit next week. I will talk about this also. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Love my kitten but at wits end

    • My cat, Twiggy is/was the same way. Came from a litter who was taken too soon from the mother. I had to bottle feed him for over a month. At around 6 months, he began showing massive signs of aggression. He still to this day has rage fits but it has gotten better. I am sorry to say this but it sounds like your cat is bipolar like mine is. Read more on that here : https://purrfectlove.net/2014/08/10-signs-you-may-have-a-bipolar-cat/

      The best thing you can do is crate punish her. That is what I do with Twiggy. When he has a fit, he goes in his crate/cage for a 10 to 20 minute timeout. When he was real bad I would burrito wrap him. You just wrap them up in a towel or blanket, only leaving their head out and hold them till they calm down. I haven’t had to do this since he was around 4 though. I also reward him with treats when he is good, and take away treats/toys when he is bad. It sounds like I am talking about a kid here, but it has worked for me. He is 8 now but when he was younger, he would full out chase me around the room trying to grab my legs and latch on. He did this to other people as well. He was doing it to be playful but he rough plays. Twiggy was also raised with two dogs which I feel helped calm him down a lot. He would play with them and he couldn’t really hurt them but knew they could hurt him. My one German Shepherd would play tag with him and actually run from him. It was quite funny.

      You have basically two options here for treatment. On one hand, she can be prescribed mood levelers to help balance her out. I felt that the negative of these out-weighed the positive personally. On the other hand, you can just ride it out and do small changes to make a difference. I recommend using lavender scented home sprays and cleaning agents, maybe oils/candles that are scented with lavender oils. This will help calm her down. You can also give feliway spray a shot. It is marketed for spraying but it really does calm them down. Use crate punishment/timeout and always avoid raising your voice or hand with her. Bipolar cats will react badly even to being told “no” in a loud voice. Twiggy used to attack me when I would say no and point at him. Use catnip sparingly as this can cause more spikes of mood swings. Do not feed her late at night and be sure to have a regular feeding schedule.

      I wish you the best in this situation. I know it is hard but when you love a cat, it is worth sticking it out. Please feel free to ask me anything else you would like to know.

      • I know this is an old comment, but I just need some advice. I have one cat, Lucy–she’s very sweet and loving, and she’s about 12. In February, We got a second cat, Simon. He’s just under a year and is the sweetest little bundle of fur–usually. One moment, he’s head-butting your chin and purring, and out of the blue, he’ll start jumping up your leg or grabbing your arm and biting, using his claws to help you stay put. I figured that this was just him being a kitten and I haven’t minded it too much-until earlier today. He saw an animal outside, which is nothing new. He sees this creature, and others, all the time, but he’s gone insane. Even after it went into the neighbor’s yard and was out of sight, He’s running from window to window and hissing at the air and growling at furniture. He even started attacking me, and I was in the other room. He’s so sweet and so dear to me, but I’m wondering if he has Bipolar Disorder or if this is normal for a young, male cat–I know very little of his past, but he is fixed.

      • Thanks for your comment Alexandra. It is hard to say if this is down to a bipolar issue or not. Simon seems to be showing signs of territorial aggression. Where did you adopt him from?

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