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Biting the Hand That Feeds It: Why Your Cat May Bite

If you go to pet your cat or play with your cat, he may bite at your hand or finger. When this happens, you may find yourself wondering why your cat does it and if it is a behavior you should curb. Unless you are yanking your cat’s tail or trying to pick him and your cat is visibly upset, biting is not done out of anger. Here are a few reasons why it may be done.

Cats may bite when they want attention


Cats like to be in control or in charge of a situation. If they feel they are not, they may lightly nip at your hands or fingers to show their dominance. This is most likely to happen if you are playing with two of your cats at once, with one trying to out-dominate the other, or if you are waving their toy at a speed they don’t like. They may bite or nip to get you to speed it up or slow it down, going at the pace that they prefer or like. Unfortunately, this can be a hard behavior to break in your cat. If you try to purposely do the opposite of what your cat wants to prove your dominance, your cat can get mad and become aggressive. They may then associate playtime with negative thoughts. Most experts recommend just giving in to what your cat wants when showing playtime control so they feel confident and comfortable.


Another reason why a cat may bite your hand or even claw at you a bit is because they are seeking your attention. If you are laying in bed trying to sleep, they may nibble on your fingers or gently claw at your hand to get you to wake up and pet them. Likewise, if you are sitting on the couch watching TV, your cat may come up and try to bite to get you to play with him. Cats go about getting your attention a variety of ways, including meowing, rubbing against you or biting you. If your cat is biting you randomly, they may be trying to tell you that they need more attention from you than they are currently getting.


The last reason a cat may bite your hand or fingers is because they are playing. You may be gently petting your cat as you watch television or read a book. But as soon as you reach your hand down, your cat begins to gently bat at your hand or bite it. They are not upset with you as some people think. In this case, they just want to play. When they do this, grab their favorite toy or a piece of string and interact with the cat. That should help to stop the behavior then and there, while also giving them the play time they were craving.

Cats can playfully and unexpectedly bite your hand.

As long as your cat is up-to-date on her vaccinations, and as long as the biting is not being done out of anger and breaking the skin, a little nibbling here and there is nothing to worry about. Your cat may be trying to gain control of the situation, get your attention or simply be playing with you.

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