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post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 
Does anyone have a cat that bites during petting/scritches? My new baby Astrid was just over for some petting (I let her come to me, which she does when I am on the computer and not looking at her) and I was petting her and she was purring away and turned and bit me! Hard! On in the inside of my wrist - ouch!

She didn't seem upset, over stimulated, scared or anything. Her tail was up and her ears weren't back - no signs of distress at all.

Maybe she thought she was playing, but this can't continue. She bites hard. I stopped petting her and she seemed disappointed.

post #2 of 6
my cat Princess when she plays with us she bites us too!!! i have no idea why she will be purring also and out of no where she bites and like you said hard too!! I dont know why but I will keep coming back to this thread and maybe I can find out too.
post #3 of 6
Sounds like 'petting and biting syndrome' to me! One of my cats did it when he was a kitten but he grew out of it.

Petting Anxiety.

Also called "Petting and Biting Syndrome" this is the most common aggressive behaviour in cats. You are stroking your cat and it seems to be enjoying the attention, but suddenly it turns round and attacks your hand, sometimes grabbing your wrist with its front claws and kicking you with its back feet. Sometimes this is a play behaviour, but the cat has not learnt to keep its claws sheathed or to bite gently enough that it doesn't damage our fragile human skin.

When a cat is sitting on your lap being stroked it is feeling relaxed and trusting. Then the cat realises that it is being handled by a much larger predator, not by its mother or another cat, and it feels vulnerable. Conflicting feelings of security and fear results in defensive aggression and the confused cat grabs the hand which is stroking it. It may then jump down from your lap and sit grooming itself to calm itself. Often a cycle develops: you pet the cat for a while, it reacts defensively and you stop petting it but it does not jump down so you resume petting it and after a while it reacts defensively.

Most owners realise that cats' bellies should be petted with caution if they are petted at all. Although many cats seem to solicit belly-rubbing (it reminds them of their kittens days when their mother cleaned their bellies), many will lash out if the owner takes the liberty of rubbing the displayed belly. The adult feeling of vulnerability suddenly wins out over the kittenish feeling of being groomed. The result is a sudden mood change. Once you've learnt your cat's no-go areas, respect them - even if it is displaying its belly. If your cat does love a belly rub you are highly honoured.

Accepting being stroked has to be learned. Adult cats are naturally wary and some never learn to enjoy being petted by humans. Younger cats are more excitably, but luckily, many calm down as they get older. Some may have missed out on human attention during the socialisation period and find human attention threatening. They may enjoy being stroked (and may indulge in mutual grooming sessions with another cat), but have to learn to accept this attention from a much larger creature.

First of all, you must learn to read your cat's body language so that you can stop petting it as soon as it shows signs of unease. This way you can build up its tolerance of being handled. Sit quietly and calmly with the cat and make sure there will be no interruptions. Keep petting sessions short and always stop before the cat reacts. Common signs of imminent reaction are twitching (especially the tail), backwards-facing ears, dilated pupils, sudden tensing of the body (especially if it pulls away from you in a sideways posture). As soon as you see signs of reaction, stop petting. If possible, reward the cat with food (it helps to keep a packet of treats nearby) and gentle verbal praise. The cat has been rewarded for accepting petting and, all going well, it will learn to accept longer and longer stroking sessions over time. Never punish the cat for its defensive aggression as this reinforces its view that you are a threat or are unpredictable.

At 8 weeks old, Nutmeg had been shut in a shed, fed intermittently and expected to catch mice. She spent her first year this way. Once rescued, she had no concept of play, craved companionship and laps, but wouldn't allow herself to be touched. She was "de-socialised". She was rehomed 4 times, but her aggression problems always led to her being returned to the shelter. Her fifth (and last chance) adopter learnt Nutmeg's body language and learnt when to stop before she bit him. "After the first stroke, she glared. After the second stroke she rolled away. After the third stroke she bit and scratched." Even so, Nutmeg bit him often. Instead of pulling away, he did not move in spite of having her teeth fastened in his hand. Nutmeg's learned that biting did not get a reaction. It took 3 months of lacerations to teach Nutmeg that biting did not get a reaction and she learned not to bite quite so quickly. She now (usually) licks to as a warning that she has had enough petting. Though she craves fuss, her early experiences will never be completely overcome.
post #4 of 6
Ollie does it all the time! He'll purr, bite, kick and give kisses all the time.... we just take it as playing since we can handle it (especially my dad) and occasionally actually provoke it, haha, cuz its fun to be rough and tumble with my little boy sometimes... there's no other behavior problems that have resulted from it so I think its ok at least for us to continue playing with him like that
post #5 of 6
Swanie bites sometimes too, but never hard enough to break the skin. Sometimes I think it's just affection biting, like he'll grab my hand in his paws, pull it to his mouth and lick and bite. Other times I think it's like a hey cut it out kind of thing.

Cindy also nipped me today, first time. I think it was an affectionate nipping, she was really getting into the petting and enjoying it, gave me a little nip, and went back to purring. And by the way, she really seemed to love having her tail petted.

None of the nipping has ever felt like aggression to me though.
post #6 of 6
Thread Starter 
That was really interesting and informative. Astrid is a rescued feral cat, and I don't think that she was socialized as a young kitten and her last few months have been spent in back and forth in shelter care and foster. This whole human deal is probably very confusing to her. She really needs consistency and a stable environment.

She does come over for "lovies" especially when I am at the computer and not interacting with her; she bit me again several times today but when she bit I stopping stoking her and a loud OUCH made her stop biting. I will be very careful not to over do it and let her initiate and end her petting sessions. I never physically discipline her but my tone of voice seemed to get the message across.
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