How many times does your cat scratch or bite you?

Hey cat-folk,

So I’m thinking of getting a cat. I went to see some rescues the other day and I noticed that every cat that was being handled would cuddle and purr and then boom! turns and bites you or swats at you with claws exposed.

My friends have cats and 2 have been sent to the hospital when a cat scratched their eye and when one bit another friend on the arm and got seriously infected. Then, of course, it seems that whenever someone is holding their cat or just petting them, kitty seems to just flip a switch and bite or scratch. What’s going on? Is this normal cat behavior? How many times are you likely to get such treatment…excluding giving baths, brushing, or general treatment your cat won’t enjoy. I’m talking standard petting, cuddlin’ and lovin’. It seem cat owners are covered in scratches!

Is there a early warning detection that you’re about to “get it”?

When my dogs are tired on me petting them, they don’t growl or snap at me, they just walk away or change positions…

My cat has never bitten or scratched me. Then again, she is a complete wuss.

Sometimes you can watch their tails. When it starts to swish and wag, back off. Cat tail signs are opposite of dog tail signs. Some kittens bite out of boredom, too much energy, dominance thing.

I have a cat that was found on the side of the road as a kitten by my brother-in-law… I think he may be a generation or two feral… anyway his name is Angus and he is 25 pounds of attitude. He will be purring, cuddling, utterly content… and will be merrily both clawing and biting…

but Angus IS an exception… and I think raising a pet from when it is first weaned will cause it to take on a lot of your personality traits… calm, docile people usually raise calm, docile pets… people like me wind up with Angus!

There are some cats who do the purrpurrpurrattack! thing. I’m not sure why. I have two cats who do it (biting), one only to strangers, the other to anyone, including other cats.

I’m not covered in scratches, though. The only way I get scratches is when the cats are playing, kneading, or simply make a mistake and jump on me unexpectedly.

Some cats will also do a sort of love bite. It’s usually not a hard bite, though you’ll feel it, and I have no idea what inspires it. But it’s a happy bite. You’ll know it if you experience it.


I’ve gotten both, but honestly, it’s never anything big-just a little scratch.

Most of the time, it’s an accident-when I’m holding one of the cats, she’ll try jumping down, and accidentally scratch me, or if she’s fidgety.

Buffy bites though when she tries to get my attention, but she doesn’t even break the skin.

I’ve had 2 cat at a time, for the past 35 years. I’ve never been bitten. I’ve been scratched maybe 4 or 5 times, and each time it was my own fault (not holding them right when administering medication, etc.). Cats treat you the same as you treat them.

My cats don’t bite, but I have been holding them on my lap adn if something startles them - the dogs barking all of a sudden, doorbell, scary noise - they will hurry to get off, sometimes resulting in scratches. Other than that, watch when you play wit hthem - some cats don’t like certain parts of their bodies touched.

On the other hand, I have visited the ER twice for dog bites. :mad:

If I had a cat, it would scratch or bite me once.

Yeah, the tail-lashing is usually the indicator.

LOTS of cats, probably a supermajority, don’t bite at all unless provoked (in the normal sense of the word, not in the “petting me when I was tired of it” sense).

We have a new rescue kitten who is just dying to KILL SOMETHING ANYTHING NOW KILL KILL KILL!!! but even if he decides to practice killing on your hand, he doesn’t ever bite hard, and nearly always sheathes his claws. His little teeth come together on your flesh but don’t press in enough to end the skin. I think if you weren’t ready for it it might freak you out (“AAAhgh! He’s BITING me!!”)

On the other hand, he hasn’t yet learned that a leg covered with denim is a poor choice of things to climb. OW OW OW OW

I think most shelters will let you spend time meeting the cat, maybe even take him or her home overnight, to figure out whether you’re compatible – I’d probably decline to keep one who bit me hard or scratched much.

Er, not “end the skin”; I meant "dent the skin

Yes, I’m thinking of getting a cat myself. What’s a good breed?

jsgoddess, I know what you mean about the “love bite”-that’s Buffy all over.

Most of the time, they’re just playing, or kneading, not trying to hurt.

Rooves, you don’t really need a “breed” like you do with a dog-just go to a shelter and pick out a kitten.

There are breeds, mind you, but they’re expensive and it’s like with dogs where there’s a vast difference between the different breeds.

My old cat, “Handsome”, would scratch any ankle he saw walking by.

If you were sitting there, not moving, no problem. But the second you took a step, he’d hack and slash, or at the very least, make a half hearted swipe at it.

Poor Handsome. He got really fat later in life, and wouldn’t more to swipe, he just waited for you to get into his range.

My kitten still does the “love bite” thing, as well as the “I am a big and scary predator and will eat your feet!” bite thing. I am trying to stop her, but they never break the skin, or even make it red. Sometimes, with the love bites, she is licking and licking my skin and just closes her teeth on my skin and I don’t even notice. I think in a while she should grow out of it, but I still try to squirt her every time I catch her.

Ditto opinion here – it really isn’t like dogs where breeding has much relation to temperament. You get all kinds in all colors. Breed-constants are some to do with looks, and Siamese types talk more, and squished-face ones like Persians often have breathing problems.

I’ve had five cats over a span of nearly 20 years and have never been bitten hard enough to break the skin. Scratches occured only rarely and were not intentional. Only twice have I actually been scratched hard enough to bleed. Once my cat was startled and ran across me to get away, but he never did that again. The second time was at the vet’s office and the kitty was trying to escape, scared out of his silly little head. I just happened to be in the way.

Now, several cats that I’ve had would sometimes put their teeth on you, the love-bite mentioned by jsgoddess, when they’ve been really happy. If you weren’t expecting that you might jerk away and since a cats teeth point slightly backwards it’d be easy to get scratched or cut. But I wouldn’t really call it the cat biting you. Love nips have always seemed to me the equivalent of cat kisses. They’re really very nice. :slight_smile:

My cat has never bitten me, and has only scratched me by accident. I think the important thing is socialization. An adult shelter cat may have come from a neglect situation and not be properly socialized, hence the scratching and biting. It shouldn’t really be a concern once you’ve gotten the cat home and it’s gotten used to you. Treat the cat with respect, and you should be fine.

However, if you have little kids, an adult shelter cat might not be a good idea. However, if you get a kitten and handle it gently and frequently, you should find it develops into a mellow purring machine with no really aggressive tendencies.

One of my childhood friends had a cat like that…he’d crawl under sofas and wait until someone walked by and swat at them…or jump up on the backs of dining chairs to grab your hair.

i think the unprovoked biting/scratching tends to be a “trust” issue. we’ve had several rescued/semi-feral cats given residence at the barns where we keep our horses. (not to mention the occasional ones that get dumped there by the $#&*%@ owners that decide they aren’t wanted anymore. :mad: )

Twinks was one of the later of the adoptees, and was very skittish and defensive for quite a while. it took several months before she’d even stay in the room when someone entered. when she finally got brave enough to stick around, we’d start offering her food. (leftovers from a baked chicken are guaranteed hits with cats.) her initial reaction was a little more extreme than most – she’d grab the meat held out to her with her teeth, gulp it down, then take a chomp on the human hand and make a quick slash with the clawed paw. surprising, to say the least. but she did NOT break the skin with the bite. if you had the control to not instinctively pull your hand back when the claws came out, you also were not scratched. (the majority of the damage is indeed inflicted by your OWN action of pulling away.)

once she discovered that she was not going to get struck or grabbed, though, these aggressive displays went away. now she has no trouble hanging around when people are there for her entertainment (and all people are present chiefly for any cat’s entertainment). i can pick her up and take her someplace where she’s out of the way or (even better) where there’s food awaiting without any struggle on her part at all.

so unless you’ve got an animal that continually receives contradictory treatment (like maybe small kids that haven’t learned gentle handling yet) or ongoing abuse, i’d say that most cats will eventually get over it. there are indeed some that have “off limits” spots where they don’t like being touched. i imagine it’s about the same as someone who’s got a ticklish or sensitive spot of their own.

even our own two housecats, which absolutely dislike being held (but have no trouble sitting on laps/laying on you when you’re sleeping) know that actively attempting to bite or eviscerate is an absolute no-no. they’ll complain strongly and loudly, and tell you exactly what an evil person you are in no uncertain terms. but i’m still the mom-cat here, and you don’t mess with mom.

My cat(actually my roomate’s) does little else besides scratch and bite me. oh wait, no, he does also piss on things occasionally.