Why Does My Cat Randomly Bite Me When He's Being Affectionate?

by Lara
(Melbourne, Australia)

I recently got a Birman who I've got a couple of cat problems with. He is very affectionate, but sometimes we'll be snuggling and he will just randomly take a really hard bite, particularly out of the fleshy part of my upper arm. He has done it to bare skin and through my clothes.

He also likes to chew on things like the couch and the computer keyboard. I've bought him chew toys with treats inside but they don't interest him. He's 6 months old.

Reply from Liz (Editor): There are a couple of reasons why your cat may suddenly take a bite out of you when he's being petted. One is that he thinks he's playing, and he doesn't realize how much he's hurting you. These links below give advice on dealing with this:

How to Deal with Angry Cat Behavior During Play

Our Kitten Keeps Attacking Us!

The second is that some cats will only tolerate being petted for a certain length of time, then they'll bite to say they've had enough. If he's like this, he probably won't change, so you need to learn how to "read" when he's getting fed up and stop petting him before he attacks. This page gives you advice on how to do this:

How to Deal with Cat Aggression During Petting

The chewing problem you have could well be down to your cat's age. Beween 3 and 6 months old they're losing baby teth and getting adult teeth, and they chew as a result. Sometimes this chewing can become a habit though, and continue into adulthood.

To stop him chewing things you don't want him to chew, probably the most effective method is to spray them with something he doesn't like the taste of. You can buy cat repellants from good pet stores that are safe to use on furniture etc. Bitter apple spray also usually works wonders (though test anything you do use on an inconspicuous area of the couch first!)

A really effective, very inexpensive thing that many teething kittens love to chew is a plastic drinking straw (the big ones from McDonalds are ideal!)

Thank you for your question.

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