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Why Does My Cat Grab My Hand and Bite Me? 5 Common Reasons

Written by: Christian Adams

Last Updated on June 6, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team

cat bites the woman's hand

Why Does My Cat Grab My Hand and Bite Me? 5 Common Reasons

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Dr. Lauren Demos (DVM) Photo

REVIEWED & FACT-CHECKED BY

Dr. Lauren Demos (DVM)

Veterinarian

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

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Cats are well-loved family members and can provide endless hours of entertainment, delight, and companionship. However, cats can also bite and grab your hand, which can be a shocking experience. We all can retract with a loud “ouch” when this happens, and we can even feel a flush of anger with our furry pet.

Understanding why cats do this is the key to preventing and managing the behavior. There are five common reasons why cats bite and grab your hand, including their natural hunting instinct, accidentally hurting them, a burst of energy, play, and redirected aggression.

Knowing these reasons can help you better understand your cat’s behavior and take steps to discourage it.

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The 5 Reasons Why Your Cat Grabs Your Hand and Bites You

1. It’s Their Hunting Instinct

One of the primary reasons why cats can bite and grab your hand is due to their natural hunting instinct.1 Cats are natural predators, and they often act out their hunting behaviors, even when they’re not hunting for actual prey. When they grab and bite your hand, they’re probably trying to “capture” it like a toy mouse or something similar.

It is important to remember that cats aren’t deliberately trying to hurt you; they’re just trying to satisfy their instincts. So, try not to punish them; instead, gently back away and try to soothe and calm them.


2. You Accidentally Hurt Them

cat hisses at owner
Image Credit: osobystist, Shutterstock

Cats can also bite and grab your hand out of fear or pain. If you’ve ever accidentally stepped on your cat’s tail or touched them in a way that caused them to feel hurt, it may lash out with its teeth and claws. It’s important to be gentle when handling cats and to always let them come to you on their terms.

If you touch them in a place they don’t like, try not to react, stay still, and slowly pull your hand away from them.


3. They Are Playing

Another common reason why cats bite and grab your hand is because they’re trying to play. Cats love to play, and they may grab your hand in a way that mimics their natural hunting behavior. If your cat is grabbing and biting your hand as part of a game, you can redirect their behavior to a toy or a scratching post instead.

Also, remember to get your cat plenty of toys! They love a variety of things to play with, such as feathered balls, toys with bells, tactile toys for scratching, etc.


4.  They Bite Due to Redirected Aggression

cat is biting a human's hand
Image Credit: Diana Taliun, Shutterstock

Sometimes, cats may bite and grab your hand out of redirected aggression.2 If your cat is feeling stressed or threatened, it may lash out at something else—like your hand—to vent its frustration. If your cat is displaying aggressive behavior, it’s important to try and identify the source of the stress and work to reduce it.


5. The Cat Has a Sudden Burst of Energy

Finally, cats could bite and grab your hand simply because they’re feeling a little bouncy and energetic. Cats are naturally wild and ecstatic, and they may bite and grab your hand if they’re feeling a bit hyper. If your cat is biting and grabbing your hand more than usual, it might be a good idea to give them more playtime and attention to help keep their up and down energy levels under control.

playing with cat_Vika Hova, Shutterstock
Image Credit: Vika Hova, Shutterstock

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Conclusion

Cats may bite and grab your hand for a variety of reasons. From their natural hunting instinct to accidentally hurt them, a burst of energy, play, or redirected aggression, it’s important to understand why cats may bite and grab your hand to properly address the behavior.


Featured Image Credit: Luis Echeverri Urrea, Shutterstock

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