It has probably happened to every cat owner at some point in their relationship with their beloved kitty. One moment your cat is enjoying the chin rubs and belly tickles, then the next moment your staring at teeth marks in your arm. It can leave you wondering what it is you did wrong to provoke such a reaction from your cat. Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Most cat lovers experience the same type of reaction and it is commonly referred to as “love biting.”
However, feline behaviorists have determined a more formal name for this particular reaction: Petting-induced aggression. Usually stemming from overstimulation, petting induced aggression can arise in even the most friendly of felines. Whereas kitties love the attention, too much of it- especially in terms of petting or body rubbing- can cause a cat to become uncomfortable and annoyed. It can happen in the blink of an eye and sometimes without warning.
Despite the perplexing nature of this feline behavior, there are a couple of reasons as to why cats may do this:
- Lack of control: Cats prefer to be in control. They don’t like to feel dominated and can act out when they feel like they are being controlled or are stuck in a particular place or position.
- Overstimulation: Cats don’t like to be overstimulated. If you are petting them excessively and for an extended period of time, it can create a neurologically negative stimulus.
Although it can be disheartening to be on the receiving end of your cat’s frustration, try not to take it personal. Like humans, cats have a host of different emotions and opinions for what they like to have done to them or for them. In the event that your cat expresses annoyance, calmly move away from your feline pal and give them the space they may be seeking. They won’t stay frustrated forever. Unlike humans, they don’t have the ability to say, “Hey, thank you for the lovins’, but I’m over it now.”
As a pet parent, you need to be able to understand and respect your cat’s boundaries. After a period of time, your cat will come back around for some more love. And when it does, just pay attention to the areas or type of petting that may become too much. Keep the stimulation calm and gentle.
However, if your feline has become uncharacteristically aggressive or attacks without provocation, it may be a good time to visit your veterinarian. There could be an underlying cause to their behavior. Whether it be an illness or ailment, unwarranted aggression can be a sign of something more serious.