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Why Does My Cat Hug My Arm & Bite Me? Our Vet Answers & Explains

Written by: Dr. Luqman Javed DVM (Veterinarian)

Last Updated on June 3, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team

cat bites the woman's hand

Why Does My Cat Hug My Arm & Bite Me? Our Vet Answers & Explains

VET APPROVED

Dr. Luqman Javed Photo

WRITTEN BY

Dr. Luqman Javed

DVM (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Cats are curious creatures, and any pet lover who owns one can tell you it’s true. A cat can be perfectly happy with being petted and loved one second, and the next, they’re hugging your arm and sinking their teeth in.

The main reason cats hug your arm and bite is because they’re practicing hunting. In rare instances, it may be due to other reasons. Read on as we explore this behavior in greater detail.

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Why Do Cats Hug Your Arm, Then Bite You?

Cats hug your arm and then bite you for a few reasons. However, in most instances, it’s because they’re playing and hunting.

1. Playing / Hunting

The main reason why cats tend to hug your arm and then lunge in for a bite is because they’re practicing their hunting skills. To us, this comes off as playing. It is often accompanied by other actions, such as attempting to bunny kick your arm with their hind legs.

Though many people associate this activity with cuteness in young cats, it’s important to note that reinforcement of this behavior isn’t recommended, as cats are definitely capable of drawing blood when they do this. Many cats also resort to doing similar things to your legs, especially if they know it will get your attention or if you’ve encouraged it in the past.

Many people inaccurately assume a cat that does this is displaying affection by way of a “love maul”; however, this isn’t the case, and there’s no evidence to suggest that cats express affection this way.

a red domestic cat bites its owner's hand
Image Credit: Irzhanova Asel, Shutterstock

2. They’ve Had Enough

At times, your cat might be snuggling with you by holding your arm and may decide that they’ve had enough. In such an instance, if you don’t let go, they may resort to letting you know they’re done by biting you.


3. Pain

A rare reason cats may suddenly bite you when they’re hugging you is because of pain. This is especially concerning if your cat has no history of this behavior and does this out of the blue one day. If a certain part of their body that is feeling uncomfortable is touched by your hand when they’re hugging your arm, their first response may be to bite you because of the pain they feel.

The painful area doesn’t necessarily have to be along their underside; if your cat is laying on their back while hugging you, a painful sensation on their back might result in a bite on your hand.

Scottish cat is lying on the sofa
Image Credit: stokerolga, Shutterstock

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Tips for Preventing Your Cat From Biting Your Arm

Now that you know a few reasons why your cat hugs your arm and bites it, we’ll discuss how you can curb this behavior.

The best way to not train your cat to treat your arm as a toy is to not condition them to play with your arm when they’re young. It’s best to play with young kittens using cat-appropriate toys, or by holding something near your cat which your cat practices their hunting skills on (such as a feather toy). This way, your cat is allowed the freedom to express their normal behavior. At the same time, it keeps your arm safe from injury.

Cat claws are naturally sharp, and offering them a scratching post will ensure that in the rare event they do playfully attack your arm (especially when they’re being trained), they will likely not injure you too much.

You should always encourage your cat to play with the “correct” toys. If your cat lunges at your arm to bite, you should place them down, get up, and stop interactions with them. Yelling or striking your cat isn’t productive.

Finally, if a cat is biting or acting out due to underlying pain, you should have your vet look at them to ensure that there are no health issues that might be troubling your cat.

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Final Thoughts

Cats usually grab and bite your arm as a part of hunting practice. In rare instances, they may suddenly lash out due to pain associated with an underlying injury or condition. This behavior shouldn’t be confused with feline affection.

It is important to condition your cat to proper habits from a young age, as this plays a huge role in preventing your cat from biting your arm. Underlying health issues shouldn’t be discounted, especially in unexplained episodes of aggression, and therefore, you should consult your veterinarian if you think something is wrong with your cat.

Sources

Featured Image Credit: Luis Echeverri Urrea, Shutterstock

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