Only a cat owner knows the feeling. You’re having a loving snuggle with your cat, they’re purring up a storm, and all of a sudden, they sink their teeth into you.
We are led to believe that purring indicates contentment, so why is it that our felines can switch from pleased to punishing in the blink of an eye?
This behavior is not unusual, and often, the reasons for it are just that your cat is trying to communicate something to you.
Why do cats purr and then bite you?
It is believed that cats can become overstimulated by too much stroking and bite to show that they’ve had enough. It may also be that constant stroking is causing a buildup of static electricity, which is unpleasant for them. In younger cats and kittens, purring and biting is a form of play. Older cats may bite because they have discomfort or joint pain.
Why Cats Purr and then Bite Me When I Stroke Them
Most cat owners can attest to the experience of petting their cat, only to have it turn around and bite them.
Often referred to as petting aggression, this reaction is perfectly normal and probably isn’t intended to offend. Cats just have very particular ways of communicating.
Purring, for example, can mean various things.
Cats purr when they’re content, but purring is also their way of claiming territory or calm themselves down.
Purring during petting is indeed a sign that your feline’s enjoying the attention.
Still, just like humans, they can get tired of repetitive action and overstimulated, and they may bite to indicate that they want you to stop.
Usually, this will be followed by them removing themselves from the situation.
In short, biting by no means shows that cats don’t like the affection they are receiving from their human parent, just that, for the time being, they are ready for the next thing.
This phenomenon is sometimes referred to as a ‘love bite’ and is similar to the nibbles cats give their friends and siblings to show love and set boundaries.
Another theory about why cats purr and then bite is to do with a buildup of static electricity.
The repetitive stroking motion on their fur can create static electricity, giving them tiny shocks, resulting in irritation and biting.
While you may be enjoying a petting session with your cat companion, there are some signs to look out for, particularly concerning a change in its demeanor, which can warn you of a possible shift in its mood.
How to Tell if My Cat is Tired of Being Stroked
A change in a cat’s body language will tell you when it is tiring of specific activity.
Look for increased body tension, pricked ears, and a flicking tail. These are signs that they are getting irritated and probably don’t want to be petted anymore.
Some cats even vocalize their displeasure, in which case it’s best to listen to them.
Why Kittens Purr and Then Bite
When owners deal with young cats and kittens, they will likely find these creatures still in their learning phases, including learning co-habitation etiquette.
Just as humans need to figure their cats out, cats need to learn about their humans.
Kittens love to play and will often purr when doing so. Non-aggressive, playful biting is just as much a part of this fun activity for them.
If one does not want this to become a lifelong habit, it’s best not to encourage biting and playing with hands.
Young cats and kittens will also sometimes purr and bite if they are frightened or unsure of something, so be sure to read their body language.
When Purring and Then Biting Indicates Distress or a Medical Issue
Some older cats may start to experience joint pain, in which case an owner can accidentally press on a sore spot, causing them to react with a bite.
Loud purring may be a sign that a cat is feeling distressed and is trying to soothe itself.
They could be following their purring with biting because they are trying to communicate that something is amiss.
If your cat is biting you often, seems stressed or depressed, is lethargic, and is not eating regularly, consider taking them to see a vet.
Frequently Asked Questions About Why Cats Purr And Then Bite You
How can I stop my cat from biting?
Like most domestic animals, cats can respond well to positive reinforcement. From a young age, it’s good to praise a kitten for withdrawn claws and gentle nips. Indeed, if your cat or kitten employs claws and teeth, pull away from them and stop the game. This should let them know that biting is not appreciated.
What’s the best intervention when a feline bites and draws blood?
Cat bites can be dangerous for humans and can lead to infections. If a cat bites you and draws blood, you need to wash and disinfect the wound immediately. Apply gauze or a clean cloth to the area to prevent excess bleeding. Elevate the wounded area above the heart to prevent swelling. If the wound becomes infected, better seek the doctor’s help.
How can I calm an aggressive cat?
Cats can become aggressive or combative for many reasons, and here are a few steps you can take to help calm them down. Firstly, provide them with a safe space to relax. Don’t yell at them as this will cause them more stress. Stop pending fights with a water spray bottle. If the onset of aggression seems sudden and unfounded, consult a vet or animal behaviorist.
There is no better feeling than a reciprocated cuddle with your feline friend, but just like us, cats can have mood swings.
It is in no way a reflection of your cat’s feelings for you, however, so don’t take it to heart.
If your cat doesn’t want to spend time with you, it won’t. Chances are it’s just a little overstimulated and will be back to purring on your lap in no time.