If you can’t walk across your living room without a feline missile aiming at your feet, you might be desperate for answers about what is causing the behavior. Attacking and biting feet is an unpleasant and painful habit often displayed by cats. To stop the biting, you first need to figure out what is causing it. Here are six possible reasons why your cat bites your feet.
The 6 Reasons Why Your Cat Bites Your Feet
1. They Want Attention
Cats and children have at least one thing in common: they often act out when they want attention. Your cat may bite your feet because they want you to pay attention to them. Obviously, when you’re in bed trying to sleep, you’re ignoring your cat by default, and some kitties take offense to that.
Your cat may also bite your feet because they want something from you, such as food or to go outside. If you give in to their demands, don’t be surprised if the feet-biting behavior continues!
2. They Want to Play
Your cat may bite your feet as part of play behavior. The shape and movement of feet can be hard to resist when your cat is in the mood to play. Young kittens are especially prone to biting feet and other body parts as they learn which behaviors are appropriate.
While it can be tempting to wiggle your toes to play with your kitten, you probably won’t like it if a full-grown cat attacks your feet. Don’t encourage a kitten to play in ways you won’t want an older cat to continue.
3. They’re Hunting
Cats are born with the instinct to stalk and hunt prey. Unfortunately for you, your feet often seem to trigger hunting behavior in cats. If you like to wear fuzzy socks or slippers, your feet may resemble furry prey even more and cause your cat to pounce.
Many cats bite their owner’s feet under the covers at bedtime. The mysterious movement of feet beneath the sheets is irresistible to many cats. Some breeds and cats have a stronger prey drive than others, and the kitties need healthy ways to use that instinct, or your feet may suffer.
4. They’re Showing Affection
If your cat nibbles gently at your feet rather than giving you a more aggressive bite, they may be using the gesture to show affection. Cats use mutual grooming, including licking and gentle bites, to bond with each other and demonstrate affection.
They may use similar tactics on their human family as well. If your cat’s nibbling occurs when you’re petting them or they’re purring and showing other signs of contentment, the biting could just be an unusual way for your pet to prove their love.
5. They’re Showing Aggression
Unfortunately, your cat may bite your feet as a true act of aggression. Aggressive behavior in cats can be triggered by fear, anxiety, and dominance. It can also be redirected aggression, meaning your cat can’t attack whatever they really want to fight, so they go after your feet instead.
For example, your cat might be upset at a stray kitty hanging around outside, but they bite your feet because they can’t get outside to do anything about it.
6. They’re Overstimulated
Although most cats enjoy petting to a certain extent, they can become overstimulated by too much touch. When they do, your cat may react by biting your feet or the closest body part they can reach.
Cats can also become overstimulated by playing with another cat, brushing, and rough or excited handling, such as they might get from a child. Any time your cat is dealing with a lot of energy or emotions, they may react in unexpected or undesirable ways. Learn to spot the signs of an overstimulated cat to avoid unnecessary injury.
Tips to Keep Your Cat from Biting Your Feet
As we’ve learned, your cat could be biting your feet for several reasons, and there’s no simple answer to stopping the behavior.
Biting your feet may seem like a simple problem, but as we discussed in this article, there are several causes for it. Part of being a responsible cat owner is educating yourself about the reasons for undesirable behaviors and what you can do to stop them.
Unfortunately, many cats are surrendered to shelters because of biting or other bad habits. Don’t be afraid to ask your vet or a behavioral expert for help before you give up on keeping your cat from biting your feet.