Why Does Your Cat Bite You When You Pet Him?(+Solutions)

If you have ever found yourself petting your cat, only to receive a nip on the hand, you are not alone. Many cat owners experience this where a petting session turns sour. Some brush this up as “love bites” or believe that this is part of a game. However, we need to pay more attention to why our cats may actually be trying to tell us to leave them alone.

Why does my cat bite me when I pet him? In short, there is no definitive answer to this issue. The most important thing that you can do is to observe your cat’s behavior and understand when this happens. Look for other behavioral cues and your own patterns. Some cats simply don’t enjoy being petted for too long or in certain areas.

Why Does My Cat Bite Me When I Pet Him?

Biting is a common defense mechanism for animals like cats. Either they lash out with their claws or with their teeth. Both options are effective in getting a threatening creature to back off. In these situations, you are that threatening creature because you are either causing pain or distress to the animal, or you aren’t respecting their wishes. Different cats respond to petting in different ways.

Until you figure out precisely what your cat likes, or will tolerate, you may end up dealing with a little biting. Also, cats often bite when they aren’t happy with the situation. To say that a cat bites when it isn’t happy being petted is a little oversimplistic.

There are several potential reasons for this and they will depend on your cat’s preferences and personality. For example, your cat could:

  • only tolerate being petted for a short amount of time as they aren’t the most affectionate cat
  • be the sort of cat to exert their dominance and status and put owners in their place
  • hate being touched on a certain part of their body, such as their belly or their tail
  • be preoccupied with something else, such as food or a more interesting toy
  • be easily startled if you come up behind them and catch them by surprise

Each cat has its limits. Pushing them to these limits can result in negative reactions such as biting. At the heart of all these issues is a simple desire – the cat wants you to leave them alone. Put yourself in their position. If you have someone that is doing something annoying in your personal space, you would ask them to stop or try and move away. Cats can’t ask in the same way that we can. Biting is more effective.

Why Do Cats Suddenly Bite While Being Petted?

This is another important factor here. There are times when cat bites seem to come out of nowhere. There are two common scenarios here:

  • Your cat lashes out almost straight away when you go to touch them
  • You can be petting them and they switch from being compliant to lashing out and biting

The first situation could be a sign that your pet is dealing with some pain or an illness. They don’t want to be touched at all and are in some distress, which means the instinctual thing to do is to bite and get you to back off. The second situation may not be a sudden as you think. Many cats have behavioral cues to indicate that they aren’t enjoying being petted. But, they may be too subtle to tell. This is part of the reason cat owners mistake biting as part of the play, they don’t see the signs that the cat isn’t having fun anymore.

How Do I Get My Cat to Stop Biting When Petting?

The answer here depends on if you are dealing with an adult cat or a kitten. Kittens are trainable to a point. Adult cats demand more respect. With adult cats set in their ways, you shouldn’t try and correct the cat in their behavior. Instead, you should alter your responses.

While biting is unpleasant for you, or anyone else having to deal with the situation, it is an understandable defense mechanism for the cat. You caused them to bite at you by doing something negative. It is on you to learn not to do it again. They are expressing an important emotion and trying to communicate their displeasure or pain as best they can. Remember the following:

  1. You can’t force a cat to sit and be petted if they don’t like it.
  2. You can’t train a cat to enjoy being petted in an uncomfortable area
  3. You can’t ignore the bites and carry on petting them if there is distress or possible pain
  4. You certainly can’t punish the cat with negative reinforcement, such as scolding or pushing them away.

Instead, concentrate on determining the cause rather than responding to the reaction.

  • Have you been petting them for too long and they got frustrated? If so, do your best to look out for behavioral cues and to pet in shorter sessions in the future.
  • Did you pet them somewhere else on their body to cause this reaction? If so, don’t touch them there again.
  • Did you go to pet your cat while they were occupied with something else, causing stress or annoyance? If so, learn from this try and leave them in peace when eating, drinking, playing, or whatever else they were doing.

How to Stop Your Kitten Biting When Playing

The situation may be different when it comes to kittens. Kittens that bite during play need to learn that this isn’t acceptable. Even if the bite is soft, they could be encouraged to continue and may bite down harder as they get older. When this happens, stop what you are doing and leave the cat alone.


Today we have discussed what to do if you are being bitten by your cat when playing. Our suggestion is to study your cat’s character and don’t provoke them instead of trying to change them. Pay close attention to their behavior. If you can recognize the moment when you did something to make your cat bite you, you can make some changes. But, don’t overlook the fact that cats that suddenly bite could be dealing with pain issues. If you have deeper concerns, consult your vet.