Why Does My Cat Bite My Hand When I
Larry Chamberlain - Cat
You have settled into your favorite armchair, perhaps
reading the final chapters of a gripping novel.
Suddenly you are aware of the imploring stare of your
cat sitting at your feet. You invite her onto your
lap. Gently you begin to stroke her and your cat
signals her appreciation with an audible purr.
One hand holding your book the other hand continuing
to pet your mouser, you again get lost in your novel.
All is well in the world with you and with your cat.
Suddenly your cat bites your hand!
Why did kitty do that? Why did she bite the hand that
The experts don't agree on exactly why it is that
some cats enjoy being petted, but end up biting. One
thing that they do agree on is that when kitty bites
at you, it's a sure sign that she has decided that
she's had enough stroking.
Cats differ in the amount of petting they will
accept, and not all cats respond by biting when they
have had enough. Some cats simply jump from your lap
and saunter off to investigate interests anew. But
many cats will nip you and your animal is one of
Could you have known that a bite was on its way? Yes,
there are often signs that cats give before biting.
And, if you had not been so wrapped up in reading
your novel, you may have paid heed to your little
If kitty's tail begins to twitch, in a rolling flick,
watch out! She's getting ready to chomp at your hand.
If your cats ears start turning towards the back of
her head, or flatten against her head, that's a
warning a bite is coming.
If your cat suddenly becomes restless, or stiffens
and stares at your hand, she could be about to nip
If you noticed any of these signals, simply stop
stroking your cat. Your pet will either stay on your
lap or jump down and walk off, whichever happens you
don't get bitten.
What you should not do is punish your cat for biting
your hand. That simply does not work. Cats are more
likely to identify the punishment with you rather
than with their bad cat behavior. If you miss a
warning sign and kitty manages to get her jaws around
your hand, try to resist the temptation to pull your
hand away or push your cat away. Simply freeze.
Chances are that your cat will not sink her teeth in,
she has got her message across, and you have stopped
If you try and push your cat away it is likely that
she will fight with your hand resulting in skin
punctures for you. (An animal bite can become
infected quite easily, if your cat does draw blood
clean up the wound scrupulously and seek the advice
of your doctor.)
Why do some cats behave in this aggressive way? The
degree of tolerance to petting may be genetic, or it
may be learned behavior. If when your cat was a
kitten you allowed her to chew on your hand in play,
she learned that biting human hands was an OK thing
to do. So, when she feels that she has had enough
stroking (she's the boss remember,) she will bite at
your hand to let you know - if you ignore her warning
Some experts recommend the use of healthy tidbits, as
a reward, in order to increase the time your cat will
tolerate stroking. At the first warning signal offer
kitty a treat, continue to stroke your cat gently for
a time and offer her another reward. It is said that
your cat will learn to connect petting with the
tidbits and may, with patience, allow you to pet her
for longer periods.
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