It's a chilly winter day and your adorable kitty is cuddling in your lap. As you pet them, they purr. Then, you get a text on your phone and take a minute to look, interrupting the petting. Just as you're about to respond—ouch! Your kitty bites you. Why would your cat interrupt a perfect Caturday, teeth first?
If your cat tends to bite you as soon as you stop petting, then you'll be happy to know that this is actually a common behavior in cats. Biting is one of the ways that cats communicate with their humans. They're smart and savvy, but cats can't speak human language, so they try to say things in their own. What exactly is your cat trying to say to you with their teeth? There are a few possibilities.
Your cat might think that it's returning your affection
Cat owners know that when you're petting your cat, you're showing them how much you love them. However, your cat can't pet back. Instead, they occasionally bite. Kittens learn about biting when they're young, according to Animal Planet. They bite one another as a part of play or affection. They see their humans as part of their family, basically just bigger cats. Thus, they're probably just trying to show you they love you the same way they would the rest of their family.
Your cat might be telling you that it doesn't want you to stop
Another possible reason your cat bites when the petting sessions stop is because they didn't want it to stop! They're trying to tell you to keep it going! Deborah S. Greco, DVM, a veterinarian and the senior research scientist for Nestle Purina Petcare, explained to Reader's Digest that your cat might also bite to tell you that they need something. If your cat was enjoying their cuddle time, then they might be annoyed when it stopped. A little love bite might be their most efficient way of telling you they want a good thing to continue.
Your cat might be telling you that they're overstimulated
Cats definitely enjoy petting and cuddle time, but the physical affection can quickly turn into something that feels overwhelming for your cat. It's possible that, while you were petting your cat, they had already become overstimulated. According to the Humane Society of Huron Valley in Ann Arbor, Michigan, cats can become overstimulated at a certain petting threshold, and they'll likely want you to stop right away. According to the VCA Animal Hospital, the bite tells you to stop—biting is one of the primary ways they know to tell us that.
How to stop your cat from biting you
Even though your cat biting you is a normal kitty behavior, that doesn't always mean you want it to continue. Most cats, when they bite their humans, don't bite so hard that it hurts. However, if your cat never learned how much biting is too much, then you might want to find a way to adjust their behavior.
The best way to stop your cat from biting you is to catch signs of your kitty's overstimulation before it results in biting. Usually, your cat will give off other body language that tells you they're about to bite. According to the Humane Society of Huron, some of the warning signs that biting is imminent include ears going back, tail flicking, a low growl, a stiffened body, or unsheathed claws. Make sure not to punish or physically correct your cat if they bite, because that might only make the problem worse.
When you're petting your cat and they bite you, they're trying to tell you something. They may want you to pet more, or they may want you to stop. They may even just be trying to "pet" you back. The key is to pay attention to the other elements of your cat's behavior to figure out what exactly they're trying to say. Since you don't speak the same language, you have to learn to read each other's signals. But the more humans and cats connect, the happier both are going to be.