Cats are unpredictable pets sometimes. One moment they ignore you, the next they start chasing you or biting your feet. If you have experienced this, you are certainly not alone.
Why does my cat bite my feet?
Your cat may bite your feet because it wants to play or get your attention or because it wants something like food. It may also happen because the cat is stressed or anxious.
1. Your cat wants to play.
For cats, playtime is a simulation of hunting time. So, if she is biting your feet it may mean that she wants to play and you are being pursued as the hunted one and a moving target. Despite being domesticated, cats have the instinct to hunt for prey. This usually occurs among indoor cats that lack a stimulating environment and are not able to release pent-up energy and the urge to hunt.
Play biting is essential in the development of cats starting when they were just kittens as they hone their hunting skills. Adult cats may continue with the biting spree, whether it is your feet or hands and this is usually observed among cats with limited possibility to practice their stalking and pouncing skills. This does not mean though that you have to tolerate your cat with her biting spree.
2. She is trying to catch your attention.
Cats are unique and while some prefer to be left alone to themselves so they can hang around and nap, some want a lot of attention from their owners. Their technique to catch your attention? Aim for your feet and bite! They may do this to signify that they are hungry and wants you to feet them.
Other cats may also bite your feet so that you pick them up and cuddle them while some may do it out of aggression. However, cats are usually observed to bite their owner’s feet playfully and harmlessly and not to exhibit any hostile behavior.
3. She may be biting your feet for reasons other than getting attention and playtime/ hunting simulation.
Your cat may also be biting your feet because she smells something yummy and cannot resist taking a bite. You may have accidentally spilled some food or sauce on your feet and have not wiped it immediately. She may also like the sheer sensation of biting your feet and toes but at the same time may also expressing her affection for you. However, your cat may also bite as a warning if she becomes overstimulated if you are petting her.
If you have a kitten that has a penchant for biting your feet, most likely she is teething and has the urge to bite on anything that is accessible to her.
Why do cats prefer to bite your feet?
Cats prefer to bite their owner’s feet because it is the preferred size and shape of their prey. Since cats tend to hunt alone in the wild, they usually opt for small prey that they can manage to hunt and catch. It just happens that your feet resemble a lot like their preferred prey especially when you move your feet or wiggle your toes.
Cats chase things because it is instinctive. The drive to chase and hunt is so strong that just the sight of moving feet may trigger it and they react by “attacking” and biting the feet.
You may also check out our earlier article on why does my cat lick me and then bite me for additional information on the topic.
How to stop your cat from biting your feet?
Here are some measures to help you on how to stop your cat from biting your feet:
1. Do not use your hands or feet on your cat but redirect her attention to toys.
You will only encourage her to bite further if you use your hands or feet to wrestle with your cat. You may also become hurt should your cat scratch you and bite more intently. What you can do is to use toys to distract her and redirect her attention.
Here are effective kinds of toys for your cat:
- wand toys – this is commonly used for interactive playtime with cats, you can control it from a distance without putting your hands near your cat, you can also make it move like a cat’s prey
- throw toys – toys such as balls allow for safe playtime as it keeps your body parts away from the cat
- kick toys – these toys such as body pillows allow your cat to get the biting tendency out of her tendency
2. Do not yell or punish your cat if she bites you.
Doing so may only stress out your cat and she may become fearful and resort to stress-related behavior like feline aggression and eliminating outside the litter box.
3. Firmly say “No” if she bites your feet and step back from the play session for a while.
If your cat suddenly bites your feet during playtime, say “No” firmly and stay away from the play session for a few moments. Resume the session but if she repeats the biting bouts, stop the playtime session again. This will give your cat the cue and she will hopefully learn to stop biting you.
4. Do not pull away.
Try not to pull your foot away should your cat bite you as it may trigger your cat to give chase and cling to it more. This is because the cat sees your foot as prey. What you can do is to push your cat gently away as this will cause her to let go because prey does not normally act this way.
Cats are quirky and playful but it can be irksome sometimes when they resort to biting and nipping your feet and toes. They tend to bite your feet as an invitation for playtime, to catch your attention or because they detected something tasteful like food in your feet. However, it may also be a sign of overstimulation and teething if it occurs among kittens.
Image: istockphoto.com / Maximastudio