Why do cats bite (and how to stop it)?

Cat bites can be very unpleasant.

Unfortunately, “Is it normal for my cat to bite me?” is an all too common question.

However, as pet parents we need to understand that although a cat showing its teeth may appear hostile, it’s not always a sign of aggression.

Felines may be natural born predators, but there are actually a number of reasons as to why they might suddenly start biting, even when it appears completely unprovoked.

Why would a cat want to bite their owner?

Cat bites can range from gentle, little nips to nasty, skin-piercing wounds.

When a cat gently nibbles their owner, they may be doing so as a sign of affection. They’re attempting to bond with you, completely unaware they’re actually hurting you. They may even catch you with their teeth while they’re grooming.

If you’ve ever been softly stroking your cat and then all of sudden they try to sink their teeth into you, it could be their way of telling you they’ve had enough interaction for the time being, or you’re stroking them in a place they’re not comfortable with. If this reaction is accompanied by growling or hissing, there may be other aggravating factors, such as injury or illness. Investigate, but do so delicately, without causing further discomfort.

Cats sometimes bite because they’re feeling stressed, scared or frustrated. A change in routine or living conditions can cause felines to act out, as can the introduction of another pet into the home.

Never shout at or punish a cat that behaves in an aggressive manner. Instead, attempt to understand what the problem is so you can work on a solution, one that has them feeling happy and relaxed in no time at all. Approaching a cat that’s fearful or stressed can do more harm than good, so keep an eye on their behavior from a distance, letting them come to you when they’re ready.

Stopping your cat from biting

  • Keep your message clear and consistent that biting is not okay. Cats can be highly trainable, but you need to be patient. If they do nip or bite, be sure to always deliver a firm “no”. Ensure all members of the family, along with any visitors to your home, follow the same rules.
  • Provide praise when your cat does not bite. Positive reinforcement is a great way of establishing better habits for your feline. If your cat stops biting you during play time give them a treat to show that this is the correct type of behavior. Always use healthy treats, as too many unhealthy snacks will inevitably lead to weight issues. If they do manage to catch you while playing, immediately stop the session and move away. Once they learn that biting equals the end of playtime, they should eventually stop doing it.
  • Toys make for a fun distraction. Always ensure your cat has a variety of interactive toys to play with. Not only will these give them something to concentrate their natural hunting instincts on (and bite), they should help enrich their environment too, meaning there’s less chance of boredom or stress setting in.
  • Do not retaliate physically when your cat bites. Reacting angrily or aggressively will only escalate the situation in most cases. Respond calmly whenever your cat does nip or bite you. The last thing we want is to cause our cats further stress, which could lead to further, nastier acts of aggressive behavior.
  • Never use your bare hands or feet to play with your cat. Allowing your cat to use your hands or feet as toys may tempt them into biting you. The same goes for when your cat is behaving aggressively. Using your hands to wrestle with them will only encourage their behavior. Instead, put your hands behind your back and stand up, slowly.


There’s every chance you will be faced with a cat baring their teeth at some point while they’re living under your roof.

How you react will determine if they’re going to carry on bearing them.

While bites and nips may not always come from a place of aggression, it’s a habit we certainly don’t want to encourage.

Always remain calm, assess why they may be acting out in this way, and work on finding a solution.

It’s always worth remembering that your cat may be resorting to biting or nipping because they are in pain. Check for other symptoms, and contact your vet as soon as possible if you think something may be medically amiss.

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