Why Does My Cat Bite Me When I Pet Her?

Cats are known for both their cute and strange behavior. They are coy, and you never really know what they're thinking about. That's just the deals with cats, and you love them for it.

Cute Scottish fold cat biting a human hand while playing.
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However, sometimes, when you're petting your cat, she bites you. Could it be that she doesn't like being pet? Or maybe she's injured or just plain grumpy. You want to be able to cuddle with your cat, so it's time you got to the bottom of this behavior and learned how to make it stop.

Here are a few reasons why your cat may be biting you when you pet her.

She’s done being petted

Cats can change their attitudes in a moment's notice. One minute they may love that you're petting them, and the next, they're frustrated and want you to stop. By biting you, they're displaying a common behavior and communicating to you that they are done with being pet. Listen to the signals your cat is giving you and put an end to the petting for now.

One way you can tell if your cat is about to bite you is to look at her body language. If your cat is afraid or angry, she is going to arch her back, for instance. If she is anxious or fearful, she may crouch down and look like she's about to make a run for it. Your cat's hair may also stand up on her back. If you notice any of this body language, you may want to stop petting your cat for now.

Cat playing with a human hand and biting
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She’s giving you love bites

You know the difference between an angry bite and a love bite. An angry bite has the power to puncture your skin and leave a mark, while a love bite is more of a gentle nibble. Cats use bites to communicate with us, and love bites usually occur when you are bonding with your cat and petting her. If you're afraid of a love bite turning into a regular bite, again, watch the body language, and teach any children in your home how to be gentle with your cat.

She's feeling overstimulated

When you feel overstimulated, you take a breather from a situation to get your act together. Cats don't have the ability to do that. Instead, they may bite. If you are touching a spot on your cat that overstimulates her, she may nibble on your fingers. For example, if you pet the base of your cat's tail, she may experience sensory overload and signal for you to stop with a bite. Refrain from petting that area and find other spots she likes instead. In terms of body language, she may give you a love bite, purr, or cuddle up with you if she likes how you're petting her.

Cat playing with a human hand and biting
credit: Iurii Garmash/iStock/GettyImages

She’s in an aggressive mood

One type of common behavior in cats is play aggression. This not only includes biting, but scratching, growling, and striking as well. She may be in an aggressive mood when you're petting her and attack you with a bite. If this is the case, stop petting her, and give her a cat toy to play with and bite instead. If your cat is aggressive on a regular basis, you should notify your veterinarian and seek out a trainer for help.

She’s injured or not feeling well

You may be able to normally pet your cat without any biting occurring. If she suddenly starts up with this behavior, you could be petting a spot that is injured, or she might not be feeling well. If you notice that she is biting particularly when you touch a certain area, make sure you take her to the vet as soon as possible.

Conclusion

Cats may bite you when you're petting them for a number of reasons, including love bites, play aggression, or overstimulation. Try to read your cat's body language to determine why your cat may be biting. If the behavior starts suddenly or only occurs when you pet her in one spot, take her to the vet to see if she may have an injury or illness.