Cats are known for a heap of strange behaviors and are undoubtedly the most enigmatic of domestic house pets.
Perhaps you are a seasoned feline parent and used to their eccentricities. Or maybe you sometimes find yourself wondering why it is that they do the things they do?
Personally, I have a cat with a bit of a thing for my pedes.
If you are experiencing a similar phenomenon, read on to find out why cats like to bite feet.
Why Do Cats Bite Feet?
Cats bite feet because they want attention or want to play. The second reason is that cats sometimes simulate hunting techniques and may view feet as ‘prey.’ Also, a cat may bite its owner’s feet to express a need, like food or water, or to indicate physical distress.
1. Attention seeking
There is a genuine possibility that a cat is biting at feet purely for the sake of gaining its owner’s attention.
A cat may bite to indicate that it wants food, or wants to go outside, or simply that it wants to play.
From a cat’s point of view, the feet of its human are very accessible. They move around a lot, making them irresistible targets for lunging and pouncing.
Generally, these kinds of bites are not harmful but rather gentler and more playful.
Another reason cats bite feet is to show affection. This is a trait that they learn from mother cats, who sometimes gently nip their kittens while grooming them.
If you are petting your cat or preparing their dinner, they may give you a ‘love bite’ to signify their affection for you.
Young cats use biting as a means of bonding. Therefore, there is a chance that your cat is simply trying to remind you that it loves you.
2. Cat wants more playtime
Cats can become frustrated if they do not get enough attention in the form of playtime.
As a result, chasing its owner’s feet is a way of expressing that it needs stimulation or some way to burn off excess energy.
Boredom becomes particularly apparent when their playful biting becomes more demanding and more aggressive.
Unfortunately, feet are in the firing line of bored kitties, and therefore are likely targets for them to vent their frustration.
Conversely, cats can also become overstimulated by too much play and may react similarly when they are tired of playing and want to be left alone.
If they bite and run away, they’ve probably had enough for the time being.
3. Cats view feet as ‘prey’
Don’t be fooled by their docile domesticity. Cats are natural-born predators at heart, and unfortunately, human feet move and behave just like prey.
I’ve often found myself merrily dozing away only to have my foot stalked and pounced by a mischievous cat, sometimes to the degree that blood is drawn.
It helps that I remind myself this behavior isn’t personal. Often cats’ instincts take over, and they enter into a pure hunting state.
Feet are generally the same size as prey animals that they could ‘handle’ on their own, so they make wonderful targets.
4. Cat’s in distress or in need of something
Some cats track down their owners and bite their feet to tell them that they are hungry or thirsty.
This cheeky but effective maneuver is relatively harmless, as it is simply a means to an end for a cat.
However, there is a chance that a cat will bite at its owner’s feet to indicate that it is in distress.
Medical issues, or general malaise, can make cats behave out of character. Increased aggression may be a sign that a kitty needs a trip to the vet.
Consider whether this kind of behavior is typical for your cat. If you experience a sudden onset of tremendous aggression, you may want to consider taking your cat to the vet for a check-up.
Frequently Asked Questions About Why Cats Bite Feet
How do I stop my cat from biting my feet?
The best way to handle cats behaving badly is to redirect, ignore, or discourage them. If a cat is constantly biting its owner’s feet, one tactic is to try and distract them with a different plaything and expend its energy in that way. If that doesn’t work, simply ignoring them might. Not reacting to foot nips and walking away will show them that you are not enjoying this kind of play, and you’re not prepared to engage with them. Indeed, discouraging their behavior through firm and consistent reprimanding can also be effective.
My kitten is biting – is this a problem?
It is very normal for a kitten to nip at feet and other body parts. For starters, they are naturally playful. Secondly, they are hunters at heart, and they are in the process of developing this instinct. Thirdly, they might be teething, which can account for their desire to sink their fangs into anything that moves.
Why do cats sometimes bite without warning when you’re stroking them?
Cats do have a threshold for how much stroking and petting they enjoy, and they sometimes bite to tell you when they’ve had enough. Again, this is not personal or problematic. You may just have overlooked signs of overstimulation, such as a flattening of the ears or swishing of the tail. Don’t fear. They still love being petted, they just occasionally become overexcited and need a break for a while.
Cats are complicated creatures, but they are also excellent communicators, and as a rule, they don’t do anything for no good reason. Spend time with your cat, getting to know their habits and quirks. If you are ever concerned or notice a drastic behavior change, play it safe and take them to the vet.