Cats can be the best cuddle buddies at night. They are soft and warm the perfect size to snuggle up to. Their sleepy purrs act like a white noise machine that ease most cat owners into dreamland.
A downside to sleeping next to your kitty is when you are comfortably asleep, then all of a sudden, you feel your cat’s teeth bite into you. It is the very definition of a rude awakening. It doesn’t matter if your cat’s bite is gentle or aggressive, you will need to address the behavior.
So, what exactly prompts this hostile act from your usually mild-mannered cat?
Why Does My Cat Bite Me When I Sleep?
Your cat bites you when you sleep for the following reasons:
1. Cats are active at night
Most cats are crepuscular or nocturnal, meaning they are active at dawn and dusk. Cats love to nap during the day, which means they have a lot of energy to expend during the night time. Humans and dogs are typically diurnal meaning we are awake during the day and sleep continuously at night.
Kittens and newly adopted cats that are not well-trained can run around and be rambunctious in the early hours of the morning. Mature cats mellow out with age so they will chill out as the years go by.
2. To play with you
Because cats are crepuscular, they are wide awake at night. A cat that’s wide awake will get bored, and a bored cat is going to want to play. Since, everyone in the house is fast asleep, your cat will want to wake someone up to play with them. Your cat may paw at you and meow to try to wake you up, but if it sees that those don’t work, your cat may proceed to bite you. It might just be a little nibble, but it can also be a hard bite that draws blood.
3. Cats bite out of aggression.
When your cat bites you in your sleep, observe how it acts towards you right after. Is the cat hissing at you? Are its ears down and flat? Is its tail wagging? Those are the telltale signs of aggression in cats. It may very well mean that your cat was deliberately trying to hurt you.
Your cat is trying to tell you that he is mad at you. Males are more commonly aggressive, while female cats are the most likely to be aggressive when they just gave birth to a litter.
4. To call your attention to something
Dogs bark when they want to call their owner’s attention to something. Cats, on the other hand, cannot make a sound as loud and attention-grabbing as a dog’s bark. So, they will use what they have to wake you up.
Cats are very astute when it comes to their surroundings, so any sound, sight or smell out of the ordinary is cause for alarm from a cat’s point of view. If they feel that this is an emergency, they will bite you to wake you up.
The cat that wakes you up to inform you of something is not aggressive once you are awake. They will try to get you out of bed and to follow them, so if this happens, don’t hesitate to get up from bed to see what it is that your cat wants you to check. Going back to sleep and ignoring the cat may just cause them to bite you again.
5. To get fed
A hungry cat will not hesitate to wake you up. For them, alleviating their hunger is important and should be immediately addressed. The bite that a hungry cat gives their owner is gentle. If your cat’s bite is aggressive, the reason may be different.
6. Cats don’t think biting you is wrong
No matter what reason the cat has for biting you, it should be noted that cats are not aware that what they are doing is wrong. So, please do not be quick to punish your cat out of impulse. We will be discussing tips on how to train your cat to lessen and stop this behavior.
Tips to help keep your cat from biting you
Here is how to keep your cat from biting you:
1. Spray them with water
A reliable trick when dealing with a biting cat is a spray bottle. When your cat has been biting you in your sleep multiple times, place a spray bottle with water next to you before going to sleep.
After you wake up from a bite from your cat, grab the spray bottle and give the cat one quick spritz to the face. The cat will run away and hide. Do this every time your cat does this so he’ll associate biting you with the unwelcome spray of water. This will train the cat to stop the behavior.
2. Spend time with your cat
Cats are social creatures, maybe not to most other cats and animals, but to their favorite humans. A cat can express its disappointment at the lack of attention you have given it, by biting you in your sleep. So, make sure, no matter how busy your schedule is, to spend quality bonding time between you and your cat.
3. Exercise and tire out your cat in the evening
One of the best ways to kill two birds with one stone is to spend time with your cat by exercising and tiring it out in the evening right before you both go to sleep. This way the cat gets to play with you, at the same time, all its energy has been expended allowing your cat to sleep soundly and continuously for the entire night.
4. Feed the cat before going to bed
If you think the reason why your cat bites you to wake you up at night is so you can feed him, try feeding your cat just when you’re about to go to bed. Another tip is to feed them after playing with them so they go to bed tired and satisfied. This is to up the chances of them never waking you up by biting ever again.
5. Reinforce that aggression is not tolerated
Any aggression from your cat, both when you are awake and asleep needs to be addressed. One of the things you can do is to walk away and ignore your cat right after it does anything aggressive. This is to inform the cat that play time is over once they start getting rough. That way they are made aware of the consequences to their actions.
6. Set up a camera
If you want to get technical with the problem-solving, set up a camera to record your cat’s nocturnal activities. This may help answer questions you have regarding your cat’s intentions and motives.
Image: istockphoto.com / Toa55