Anyone who has a cat or who has interacted with one knows that sometimes you can be simply cuddling your furry friend or enjoying some playtime, when suddenly your cat grabs your hand and bites you.
You may be confused or even a little bit scared, especially if you are a first time cat owner. You won’t be the first pet owner to ask why does my cat grab my hand and bite me?
I was constantly trying to find reasons why my cat bites me, in the hope of understanding my cat’s behavior.
It’s a common issue, so don’t worry, you are not alone. It is not at all unusual, and many cat owners experience this problem.
Why Does My Cat Grab My Hand And Bite Me?
A cat may grab your hand and bite you for many reasons. It may occur innocently during playtime, or because of annoyance or injury.
It may be that you may have hurt the cat in some way, or it could be as simple as not wanting you to stop petting or playing with it.
As we all know, cats are cuddly pets, but they can also be unpredictable. One moment they may be cute, sweet animals that love to cuddle and purr, and the very next moment they may attack you.
This is why it is extremely important to get to know your new cat and its personality. Just like humans, every breed and every individual cat is different. While one cat may like being tickled on the tummy, another one may hate it and, cats being cats, it will certainly express its annoyance!
Research has shown that there are some common reasons why a cat bites its owner.
There are 8 main reasons, so keep reading to identify why your cat might be acting the way it is!
1. Your Cat Is Imitating Hunting Behavior
Cats are hunting animals by nature. Even though they have been domesticated, they still have hunting instincts.
This doesn’t mean that they want to hurt you, it is just that hunting for prey comes naturally to them.
Cats are carnivores and descend from a long line of known predators, so sometimes when a cat bites you, it is simply engaging in natural behavior as an expression of its genetic hunting instincts.
One thing that may help with this behavior is ensuring you provide the cat with lots of playtime and give them at least a couple of toys (preferably with catnip) which will keep your cat active and satisfy the need to act on these predatory instincts, eliminating the behavioral problem.
2. Biting Because of Irritation or Discontent
Most of the time, when a cat is grabbing and biting your hand it is because it is feeling annoyed or irritated by you.
Do you know where the ‘forbidden zones’ of your cat are? Some cats really don’t like when you pet them on their belly or flanks.
Since they can’t verbally vocalize what they like or don’t like, they will show it. They will tell you to stop in their own natural way, which is sometimes through cat bites.
Mother cats teach their kittens correct behavior with gentle nibbles and bites. Your kitten may be doing the exact same thing to correct your behavior because it resembles their interaction with their mother cat or imitates old cats.
Even though sometimes it can seem that a cat is inviting you to pet them, by flopping on the floor, purring or rolling around and showing their belly, it may be that they are actually showing you how comfortable they are with you.
You should get to know your cat well and be sensitive to the areas that they don’t like touched. Look out for signs of discomfort while cuddling.
Even if your cat likes petting, this doesn’t mean that they like it for an extended period of time. Sometimes they bite to tell you they have had enough.
Don’t try to push your cat to do things that they don’t like, otherwise they will just become irritated and over the long term this can mean they are not as sweet and snuggling as they can be.
3. Your Cat Is Injured
Sometimes your cat may have an injury that you are not aware of or which is not visible to you. If your touch is causing your pet pain, this can result in aggressive cat behavior like hissing or biting.
If your cat is suddenly grabbing and biting you without any obvious reason, and you are wondering what caused this unexpected reaction, pay attention to possible injuries your cat might have without your knowledge.
It is common for older cats to experience joint pain, whereas young cats are more likely to have injuries like cuts, or injured limbs as a result of jumping or fighting.
A cat’s instinct is to protect themselves from further injury or pain, so touching a sore area would understandably provoke a cat to strike out in self-defense.
It is important to check your cat regularly for injuries and make a visit to a vet if necessary.
4. Your Cat Wants To Play
One of the most common times that you may experience cat grabs and cat bites is during playtime, especially if you let your cat play with your hand when it was a kitten.
This can easily develop into a problematic behavior in adulthood, when your adult cat will also see your hand as a thing to play with.
While it may be really cute when you have a young cat to let it play with your hand, your opinion might change when your cat grows up and then can’t figure out why all of a sudden you don’t want to play in the same way.
However, it is important to provide your cat with regular play sessions. To keep your cat healthy and active, play with your cat at least 10-15 minutes a day, and remember that cats often don’t want to play for extended periods.
Cat toys are perfect to keep your cat occupied when you are busy. Cat toys made with catnip will keep your cats entertained for hours and may save your hands from scratches and possible injuries.
5. Grabbing And Biting Because Of Overstimulation
Overstimulation or petting aggression is one of the most common reasons why your cat grabs and bites your hand.
While many cat owners may call those cat bites as love bites, this is not always the case. Most of the time, the cat doesn’t want to be touched or bothered anymore, even though it may seem to be happy and purring.
Constant petting sessions can cause a significant reaction in a cat as a result of overstimulation.
It is necessary to pay attention to warning signs and know your cat’s body language to stop your cat from reacting in such ways.
6. You Accidentally Hurt Your Cat
While sometimes it can be quite obvious that you have accidentally hurt your cat, there are also times when cat owners are oblivious of an accidental injury.
Some of the ways that you can accidentally hurt your cat include:
• Accidentally stepping on their paw or tail
• Scratching them with your nails (especially if you have really long nails!)
• Pulling out their fur during petting sessions, grooming, or playtime
• Petting them too roughly.
You might not realize you have hurt your cat, but it may react by pouncing ors using its claws and fangs to show you that something is not right.
The cat is unlikely to understand that you are apologizing for hurting it by petting it or trying to hug or comfort it, so these actions may cause your cat to grab you violently and bite you again.
It is important to understand that cats, apart from meowing, express their feelings in a non-verbal way and this should not be taken as some behavioral problem but just a way to express feelings that they cannot vocalize.
7. Your Cat Might Experience A Burst Of Energy
Anyone who has a cat knows that at some point in the day they experience random bursts of energy, often known as ‘zoomies’. This is quite normal behavior for cats, and helps them to burn off excess energy.
This burst of energy may cause your cat to go running around the house and jumping, and it can look pretty crazy!
In the middle of this, it is not unusual to find that your cat grabs your hand, leg, or foot and bites you. Again, this is normal cat behavior.
These are usually just gentle nibbles and are sometimes called love bites.
Don’t worry, this doesn’t usually last long and while it may come as a shock, the cat will not really harm you. It’s most likely that your pet is just playing around and will calm down in a couple of minutes.
8. Your Cat Doesn’t Want You To Stop
Cats usually like to have their own way. If you stop petting your cat, and it grabs your hand, it may be just because they enjoyed it and don’t want you to stop.
They are creatures that love attention and cuddling so when they grab you or nibble you it may mean that they want you to stay and give them your full attention, preferably to continue playing or petting them.
Those bites are usually considered love bites, because they are gentle and more like a nibble than a violent attack.
While the cat’s intention isn’t to draw blood, this may happen accidentally as they try to tell you what they want.
How To Know When Your Cat Will Bite You?
There are some clear warning signs that may help you to know when your cat is about to bite you. By observing the cat’s body language, you can pull back and protect yourself from a scratch or bite.
• Change in vocalization – Since cats obviously don’t speak our language they have their own ways of communicating, such as change in meows, either getting really loud or weirdly quiet all of a sudden.
• Hissing or growling
• Stopping purring
• Flicking the tail
• Changing ear position
• Arching the back
• Dilating the pupils (or narrowing the eyes)
How To Stop Your Cat From Hand Biting?
The best way to stop your cat from biting you is to be aware of the reasons why your cat grabs your hand and bites you. Once you know those reasons and you know your pet well enough to understand what your cat hates, then you can avoid triggering them.
Another good piece of advice is to teach your cat that your hand is not a toy from a young age. Provide your pet with different cat toys that will be a good replacement and might save your skin from damages.
It is also helpful to ensure that the cat has plenty of play sessions during the day and receives lots of signs of affection.
Give your cat a scratching post where they can play and use their claws instead of using you and your skin.
Ensure a safe and welcoming environment for your little furry friend by providing it with everything it needs such as toys, treats, litter box, and catnip.
You may also look into establishing a calming atmosphere by using the Jackson Galaxy solution, which helps with cat stress.
If the cat is biting your hand, the best way to stop it is by taking hold of the scruff of the cat’s neck and gently separating it from your hand.
How To Treat A Cat Bite?
Cat bites can be quite unpleasant and sometimes dangerous if left untreated.
Because of possible infections, wash your skin thoroughly immediately after being bitten. Be careful to not scrub too hard and cause more damage to the skin.
If your wound is bleeding, you should apply pressure on it and put a bandage on it to stop the bleeding.
Watch out for any signs of infection, such as redness, swelling, aches, or if you develop flu-like symptoms. In case of these symptoms, you should seek a doctor.
They may prescribe you some antibiotics to treat an infection and prevent it from becoming more severe.
Remain vigilant and be careful around cat claws and fangs as they can be very sharp. Even though cat bites may seem like a common occurrence and not particularly dangerous, if you leave an infected wound untreated for a long time, it can even require surgery.
If you are one of the many cat owners who have wondered ‘why does my cat grab my hand and bite me?’, I really hope this article gave you all the answers.
Cats tend to display their emotions in their own unique way and while for them, it may be meant as a love bite or a sign of affection, for us humans it can be a completely different experience.
It is important to remember that most cats are very loving, cuddling animals that have no intention to draw blood or cause any harm.
Try to learn what your cat likes and what your cat hates, and I guarantee you that your life and relationship with your pet will be so much more enjoyable!