“Why Do Cats Bite?” I saw this question somewhere on a forum and wondered why it was asked. Normally cats do not really bite at all. There are only a few occasions in which a cat might bite.
The most obvious moment a cat would bite is when they eat food. They have very strong and sharp teeth and jaw pressure to break the bones of their prey they catch and eat. Think of prey such as birds and mice, but also in some occasions rabbits and reptiles.
Cats show that they are the dominant cat of that area, by biting or nibbling in the opponents neck. It isn’t done very hard, but it is a very clear sign of “get out of here or bow down to me, because I am the boss here” type of thing. Moms do this as well to their kittens to tell them off.
When kittens or cats play with each other, they play a game of dominance or cops versus bandits. They can in turns bite each other in the neck or in the side. Its not really a bite, but a nibble. If a human would put their hands in between, it will still hurt the human though. We do not have big coats of fur to protect ourselves from the jaw pressure and sharp teeth of cats. Cats do not really feel the ‘pain’ we are feeling, but they do understand the statement being made.
In mating male cats bite into the females neck to get a good grip and hold on her while doing the business of mating. In the same time it is also showing dominance to the female.
Kittens nibble because their teeth are itching, similar to what human babies do. Kittens are still developing their teeth and that seems to irritate them a little. But there jaw pressure isn’t as great yet and their teeth perhaps not as sharp yet, so it doesn’t exactly hurt as much as an adult cat biting you. It is though a good idea to make sure it doesn’t become a bad habit of your cat. Instead of hands and feet, you are better off giving your kitten a toy that he/she can bite into.
Biting Nails and Biting While Grooming
Cats also bite their nails to sharpen their claws. The outer layer of the claw/nail falls off by biting on it and the sharper claw will reveal itself underneath. Cats also tend to bite and nibble their fur while grooming, making sure it gets brushed well and all the hard pieces and tough dirt is being removed properly.
When a cat gets over excited, it might bite you or another cat as well. Cuddling your cat might over excite your cat quickly. In some cats this goes quicker than others. Most cats are able to just walk away from you when they seem to have had enough attention. You should see it as a barometer of happiness rather than annoyance. A cat comes to you when he feels he needs attention and cuddles and knows that you are willing to share this type of love. Cats just like us humans want to feel to be loved and taken care of.
When you start cuddling and stroking the cat, the cat will probably help you or “tell you” in some way or another where he wants it the most, by moving their body and positioning it there where your fingers touch their body. As soon as you started cuddling you have to imagine a happiness bar of green to red temperature. The bar slowly fills up and becomes first yellow and then orange before it gets red.
Some cats have this bar fill up quicker than others and will be quicker done with the cuddling-need.
The cats that are able to just walk away after having enough aren’t going to be a problem for you. There are these cats that are not able to show that they have had enough or simply feel they want even more, even though they have reached the mental max. These cats either might give you some subtle bodily warnings that they had enough. If you cannot read body language of the specific cat very well, you might not notice the warning and react upon the lash-out that follows. Tiger really warns before he throws a non-harming paw at you.
There are also cats that do not show any form of warning and suddenly lash-out at you with a bite or a claw. Here timing is of essence if you even want to bother cuddle them. It could be caused by stress, but in most cases you just need to learn to know your cat better to determine when they have had enough. Tabby is such a cat. He might suddenly bite you. Not too hard luckily, but anyone not prepared for that might freak out on it. We learned the best way is to time it well and know when to pull back or gently push him off your lap.
Health & Stress
There is however one thing that can cause them to bite in non-obvious situations. There is the chance that your cat has gotten some form of illness and is biting out of frustration or pain. If you suspect that your cat has some form of illness it is best to take your cat to the vet.
Another type of excessive biting could be stress related. Stress could happen because of changes to the cats environment or a new cat in the neighbourhood. Find out what your cat is stressed about and perhaps you can do something about your unhappy cat. One option is the use of a Feliway Plug-in Diffuser that spreads happy pheromones to calm down your cat. Another is the use of Catnip or Silverleaf.
Again, if the stress is health related, it is best to pay a visit to the vet.
Recognized any of the above biting habits in your cat? Please share below in the comments!