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October 26, 2018 |0 min read |Veterinarian Reviewed

What Does It Mean When Your Cat Bites?

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Part of the fun of having cats is watching their behavior and amusing antics. Most of the time, we just have to guess why they do what they do. Who knows why cats do anything? Most weird cat behavior, like sitting in cardboard boxes, is just part of the quirky feline charm, but cat bites are usually troublesome enough that you’ll want to get down to the bottom of the issue. There’s more than one possible cause for cat bites. Check out the list and see which ones ring true for your cat.

Some Bites are Little Love Bites

One of the weirdest things cats do is when they bite you, but it doesn’t hurt. They might just gently nip at your skin, generally, not hard enough to draw blood. Your best clue that it’s just a little love bite is that your cat may run away or otherwise act like they want to play, but cats can also use love bites to try to communicate with you. The bites can be a sign that your cat is overstimulated or wants you to stop what you’re doing. Change how you’re interacting with the cat right away.

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Cats Can Bite Under Stress

Cat Biting Hand

Does it seem like your cat’s bites are more aggressive than friendly and playful? That’s an important cue that something is causing your cat to feel stressed. Maybe it’s another pet in the home, a young child that plays too roughly, or even something as simple as home construction projects. Try keeping a log of what was happening before your cat started aggressively biting so you can try to determine the cause.

Cats can bite quite hard when they feel threatened or stressed. You’ll definitely want to clean the wound right after a cat bite because bacteria from the cat’s mouth can infect you when they break the skin. Wash thoroughly with soap and water and put antibacterial ointment and a bandage over it. If you develop symptoms like a fever or a rash, seek immediate medical attention. Some cat bites can transmit serious disease.


Your Cat is Under-stimulated

Sometimes the life of a cat looks pretty enviable, doesn’t it? You can decide to fall asleep whenever and wherever you feel like it. But believe it or not, cats can get bored just like humans can. Cats don’t have the luxury of turning on the TV or surfing the internet for entertainment. They may bite you to signal that they’re bored and under-stimulated.

Fortunately, this is a problem that’s pretty easy to fix. Build in some scheduled playtime with your cat every day. Try activities like letting them chase the dot of a laser pointer, tease them with a feather on a string, or get a little motorized fake mouse. Once they’re getting opportunities to release that pent-up energy, you might notice that the biting becomes less frequent, too.

When to See a Veterinarian about Cat Bites

Cat Biting

Even though cat bites can be a harmless sign of anything from boredom to playfulness, this behavior can also indicate something more seriously wrong with your cat’s health. Some cats may begin biting more often if they’re ill, which is more likely to be the case if biting is out of character for your cat. PrettyLitter can help you detect pH changes in your cat’s urinary tract, which can be an additional tool to help your veterinarian know what’s wrong with your cat.

If it turns out that your cat gets a clean bill of health, you can still try to modify your cat’s behavior. If the biting is becoming a nuisance, try redirecting them to healthier activities. Discourage the unwanted behavior by stopping them when they bite and directing them to something else. Positive reinforcement works even better, so give your cat lots of praise, cuddles, and little treats when they behave well.


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Christina Scamporrino

Christina Scamporrino is a lifelong animal lover and began working in the petcare space in 2019. Christina’s passion for the community of feline owners and enthusiasts have led her to designing premium packaging for PrettyLitter cat litter, PrettyPlease dry food, wet food, and treats, and a litter box designed to solve common litter box issues.

Outside of her professional work in the petcare space, Christina is a longtime kitten foster and has worked with several cat rescues throughout Southern California. When given the option, she favors orange cats, but loves all cats equally.


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Geoff DeWire

PrettyLitter's Veterinarian in Chief Dr. Geoff DeWire graduated UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine in 2007 where he earned the Pfizer Clinical Achievement Award for Excellence in Veterinary Medicine.