Biting the Hand That Pets You

Most cats will simply walk away when they have had enough attention from you.  Others, however, will nip at your hand.  Why do they do this?  You aren’t hurting him, just stroking, so it can get confusing.

Some cats become over stimulated easily.  The stroking gets them wound and the bite relieves some of that tension.  Others just never learned that biting was inappropriate behavior.  There is no consensus on exactly why some cats bite and others don’t, but there are some warning signs you can look for that may help you prevent being bit.

Watch your cat’s tail.  If the end begins twitching, this is a sure sign the cat is getting irritated.  Unlike dogs, cats do not wag their tails.  Another sign to look for is ear movement.  Every cat owner is familiar with the flattened ears of an angry cat, but by that time, it is too late and you are nursing a bite.  Watch for the ears to start turning to the sides.  This is an indication your furry friend is getting agitated.  Stop stroking now and you can prevent getting bit.

With cats that have a tendency to bite, it is good to follow what has been dubbed the seven-stroke rule.  Allow yourself to stroke your cat only seven times to start.  Then stop.  This is usually short enough not to create agitation.  Eventually you can add another stroke and then another, but do it slowly over time.  This will give your cat time to build up to being stroked.  

Just as some people prefer not to be touched, some cats are also this way.  Learning to recognize the warning signs will help prevent anger on your part and irritation for your cat. This will make you both happier.


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