Cats are mysterious beings sometimes. They can just as soon crave your company as they can run off in the other direction.
Their fluffy appearance makes them just irresistible to pet at the best of times. But...whoops! You just pet your cat and got a big bite in return. Why do they chomp on the hand that feeds them, even when they seem to be in a perfectly friendly mood?
Let’s dive into the psychology behind cat behavior and uncover the mystery of surprise bites. Just like you, cats have their own personalities and moods that need to be understood.
Today’s Common Cat Woes
Before we look into the psychology behind surprise bites, let’s look at the bigger picture. Today’s pet owners have a lot to worry about when it comes to taking good care of their pets.
Nearly 43 million American households own at least one cat, if not several. Cats are beloved for their cleanliness, mischievous sense of humor, and relative ease of responsibility. They’re naturally independent animals that are all too happy to groom and entertain themselves.
On the flipside, America’s growing feral cat population and concerns about the pandemic have caused people to fret about properly taking care of their cats. A cat that frequently bites could raise concerns about adoption, which is the last thing you want when you love a pet!
Why Do Cats Bite You?
Anyone who has ever pet a cat is familiar with a bite or a swipe. This has led to the stereotype of cats being mean and volatile, even though this couldn’t be further from the truth.
Put simply, a cat that bites is a cat that wasn’t properly listened to. Just like us, cats have warning signs about their mood. They speak with not just their vocals, but their entire body.
A cat will let you know it’s in a less-than-savory mood with the following warning signs.
A Swishing, Flicking Tail
This is one of the best-known tells in the feline kingdom. A cat tail that keeps flicking and swishing means they’re in a playful or irritable mood.
Either one can get you a surprise bite.
Attempting to Leave
A cat that doesn’t want to stick around...won’t stick around. They’re honest animals that march to the beat of their own drum, which can look like marching out of the room.
If a cat keeps attempting to leave and you won’t let it, you’ll get a warning in the form of a big, fat chomp.
Flicking Ears (Or Moving Ears Back)
A cat that either flicks its ears constantly or moves its ears back is not in a good mood.
Flicking its ears around often means it’s focused on other elements of the environment. Folding its ears back means it’s angry, uncomfortable, or afraid.
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Have you noticed cats sometimes flick and shiver their fur? This usually means they’re in an excitable or worried mood. This is often accompanied by a flicking tail.
Hissing or Growling
This is at the bottom of the list, as it’s a rarer sign of anger that’s much more obvious. People rarely overlook a hiss, but will ignore a swishing tail.
Why do cats bite you? Because you ignore their warning signs until the last second. Make sure to stay attuned to your cat’s subtle signs so you don’t get to this part!
How Do I Pet My Cat Properly?
Learning how to pet a cat properly is an art form. When you have gained the trust of an animal -- and learned their warning signs -- you’ll have plenty of bite-free cuddle sessions to look forward to.
Understand Your Cat’s Unique Personality
No two cat personalities are alike! While often stereotyped as aloof and finicky animals, they’re just as unique as we are. One housecat might be playful and social, while another may be quiet and independent.
Does your cat like pets in the morning, but wants to be left alone at night? Maybe your feline friend prefers to only be pet by family members, not friends. Learn these details and keep them in mind so you can maintain a healthy friendship with your fuzzy buddy.
Related: Can Humans Take Pet CBD Oil?
Steer Clear of the Belly (With Rare Exception)
Some cats love their belly rubbed. The keyword is some. Most cats are sensitive about their stomach and will swipe when you get too close.
This is a complex reaction based in trust. When a cat shows you their stomach, this is a sign they trust you very deeply. Touching their stomach, however, can still initiate their fight-or-flight response.
Play With Your Cat Often
Cats are more likely to be irritable and jumpy when they don’t have enough stimulation. Ask yourself how often you play with your cat throughout the week, then make some adjustments.
All animals need a little fun in their lives. Giving them toys is a great step, but don’t forget to socialize them. Take several minutes out of your day to wave around a classic feather wand. They’ll feel much more agreeable.
If your cat struggles with anxiety or an upset stomach, CBD oil could provide them a little relief.
“Why does my cat bite me when I pet him? Does he hate me?”, you might be asking yourself. Rest easy: cats are just expressing their moods in the moment. It doesn’t mean you’re a terrible owner.
Cats tend to bite when they’re overstimulated, irritated, or afraid. They’re very expressive animals, so learn their body language so you can anticipate their reactions. Playing with them more often will also reduce their antsy behavior and make them less likely to swipe at you.
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