Why Does My Cat Bite Me And Not My Husband?

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If you the person who is the primary carer for your cat, you feed them, clean up their poop, and snuggle up with them on the couch every night. But then, out of nowhere, your cute little cat turns and bites you. Sometimes it’s just a nip, but at other times they sink their teeth into your flesh with surprising conviction! It’s normal to be a little peeved. After all, you thought you shared a special bond.

Quick Overview


Biting in cats is often related to fear, pain, or communication issues between the cat and humans.


Aggressively biting people is often an expression of extreme fear, so punishment will deepen the fear and escalate the problem.


If your cat has suddenly started biting when you try to handle them, bring them to a veterinarian to make sure they're not sick or in pain.

Cats bite for many reasons, from trying to communicate their feelings to playing hunting games. But why does a cat bite one family member more than any other? The answer to this might be multilayered and more complex than you first thought.

Here are the 10 most common reasons that your cat might bite you and not your husband:

1. Your Cat Wants Your Attention

Cats learn early on in life that biting is an effective way of getting some attention.

Through domestication, cats have developed lots of cool ways to communicate with humans, including chirping, meowing, and getting up close and personal. But as young kittens, communication often includes biting their peers and nipping from their mothers—biting can be an effective way to grab each other’s attention.

Many cats don’t use nipping to communicate with humans, some have discovered it can be a quick and effective way to say, “Notice me!” It’s particularly effective if it gets them what they want, reinforcing the behavior.

In addition, kittens use play biting to determine social boundaries and develop hunting skills. This is something to discourage, as kitten bites get much worse as they gain adult cat teeth! Try to determine why your cat might want your attention to prevent this behavior from escalating.

Also Read: 10 Signs You Might Have A Clingy Cat

2. Your Scent Is Bothering Them

Your cat might be upset by your scent if you smell strongly of chemicals, perfumes, or other animals.

You might think your fragrance repertoire is nothing but delightful, but many scents completely bypass our obsolete olfactory system. In fact, cats have a highly developed sense of smell that is even more sophisticated than a dog’s!

The olfactory (or smelling) system in cats provokes a strong response in the brain’s limbic system. This governs emotional responses that are linked to survival. Carrying odors on our bodies, such as those of other animals, chemicals, and strong perfume, can invoke a fear response in cats—even if you can’t smell them yourself.

Feline pheromones and other natural appeasement scents and products can improve your cat’s mental well-being and anxiety levels. However, pheromone manufacturers claim that these smells can be obliterated by other scents that cats perceive as stressful or unpleasant.

Do you spend the day working with animals in a shelter? Do you spritz the house with chemicals every morning? If so, your cat might have an adverse reaction to how you smell.

Also Read: Do Cats Have A Good Sense Of Smell?

3. Because You Are There

If your cat has learned to communicate with their teeth, you might be on the receiving end if you are the one who spends most of the time with your pet.

It seems obvious, and it is basically a law of averages. If your cat communicates through biting and you spend the most time with them, you are more likely to be bitten. In addition, if you have reached the upper echelons of your cat’s social universe, they might feel overconfident in how they express themselves to you.

This dynamic might not be something you need to change. But if the behavior becomes problematic, it is worth considering why your cat feels the need to communicate in this way and think about how you can modify this behavior. Being the target of your cat’s frustrated chomping is no fun for anyone. It might even start to impact your relationship.

Also Read: Why Does My Cat Steal My Seat?

4. You’re Not A Good Listener

Biting is often preceded by other signals your cat is feeling unhappy, nervous, or scared.

Cats are great at communicating with people, but we are not always the best at listening. Your cat might have a style of feline-human language that is completely mismatched with yours. As a result, you might miss subtle cues when your cat feels agitated or forgotten.

If your cat is biting at you when you cuddle them, it is important to understand that cats might enjoy a petting session initially, but this can change. Repetitive stroking could lead to over-stimulation and hyper-excitable behaviors. Your cat might turn to bite as a final warning to get you to stop stroking them, or because they perceive that the interaction has changed to one of more aggressive play.

If you find your cat bites unpredictably in the throws of petting sessions, it’s time to reassess the situation. Pay attention to little clues that your cat is no longer enjoying this activity as much as you are. Minuscule changes in your cat’s body language can speak volumes. Early signs that the relaxed ambiance might have changed include:

  • Tail swishes
  • Slight head turn
  • Pinched facial expression
  • Shifting their body position
  • Holding their ears back

Also Read: What Your Cat’s Tail Can Tell You

5. You Mistake Warning Bites For Love Bites

If your cat has been biting you hard at times, consider “love bites” as a sign to stop the interaction you’re having with your cat.

Some gentle, mouthing bites are also known as love bites. These are thought to replicate how a queen fusses at her kittens and communicates through touch. These gentle little nibbles do not draw blood and are generally not painful.

However, if your cat does this, it might not be a sign of affection. This is just a gentler way for your cat to signal that they have had enough of your interaction and want it to stop. Take heed of these harmless bites, as they might progress to more aggressive biting if you are not careful.

Also Read: Cat Love Bites: 5 Reasons Why They Do It & How To Respond

6. There’s A Personality Clash

If you are feeling stressed or anxious, your cat might pick up on your emotions and react aggressively.

Your character might be a contributing factor if your cat seems to single you out with their aggressive behaviors. A questionnaire-based study of more than 3,000 cat owners showed that owners with neurotic behavioral traits were more likely to have cats that showed aggression.

Of course, there might be other factors that link these characteristics. For example, there was also an increase in cats with medical issues in this category, which might give rise to owner neuroticism and feline aggression simultaneously.

But animals are perceptive. It is conceivable that if you are a super-worried pet parent, your pet might pick up on this and be more prone to fear aggression. This appears to be true in child-parent relationships, too.

7. Your Cat Needs Their Space

Cats don’t always want to be approached or touched, and humans don’t always understand a cat’s need for space.

We know cats are territorial animals, yet we seem to forget that this is true both outside and within the home. It’s not just cats that encroach on their territory and impose on their personal space; we are guilty of this, too. You might find that this trait is accentuated further if you have a house cat.

Your cat will have spaces where they feel secure and might not want to be approached. Your cat might find it threatening if you approach them when they are in their favorite spot on the couch or if you keep entering their personal space when they are not expecting it.

Remember, you might not have an aggressive cat—you might just be doing things that your cat doesn’t like or makes them feel frightened.

Also Read: Why Do Cats Like Boxes? 8 Reasons Why!

8. Your Cat Is Unwell

Cats that are sick or experiencing pain might bite when you try to touch them.

We all know that when we are unwell or in pain, we can feel pretty grouchy. If someone then claps us unexpectedly on the back, we’re likely to snap at them. Our cats are no different. Chronic pain, in particular, can cause agitation and low mood, which might lead to aggression.

If your cat is suddenly aggressive when you touch them, you must speak to your vet and book a checkup. As a veterinarian, I cannot express how often pet parents bring cats to me because they have shown out-of-character aggression. In nearly every case, this has been caused by pain. In addition, some hormonal and neurological conditions lead to behavioral changes and biting behaviors.

Chronic conditions, such as arthritis, and acute conditions, such as wounds, can cause significant focal discomfort. If you know your cat is recovering from illness or injury, being mindful of how you touch your cat will help prevent you from hurting them.

Also Read: Do Cats Know When You’re Sick?

9. You’re The One Doing The Dirty Work

Make sure you’re not the only one doing necessary but unpleasant things to your cat or they might form a negative association with you.

When it comes to medicating your cat, grooming them, washing their bedding, and trips to the vet, are you the bad guy who has to do the dirty work? Most cats find these events profoundly unsettling and will lash out when there is no option for escape. Eventually, they might bite or scratch at you as you are guilty by association, even if you are approaching them with good intentions.

Some pet parents will divide the care of their cat. You might find yourself doing all the unpopular tasks while your partner does the good stuff, like feeding. This might further enhance the fear-aggression your cat expresses toward you.

10. Your Cat Is Feeling Insecure

Cats react to stress in different ways, including aggression and biting.

Anything that is causing your cat stress might lead to them feeling overanxious. Perhaps you are their main caregiver, but you are also dealing with children, other pets, greeting visitors, turning on the vacuum cleaner, moving their bedding, and spritzing the rooms with air freshener. If so, these stimuli associated with you might cause them anxiety and feelings of insecurity.

In addition, old cats with poor hearing or fading sight might feel particularly vulnerable. It is essential that you consider all the factors that might cause your cat stress and look at what you can do to reduce their stress, improve their sense of security and overcome their physical difficulties.

Also Read: Cat Separation Anxiety: Causes, Symptoms, And Treatment

A Final Note

Never respond to biting with punishment, as this is will only escalate the behavior.

It is important to remember that cats rarely bite people for fun. More likely, this is an expression of extreme emotion or a warning that something is not right. You must never punish your cat for biting.

Aggressively biting people is often an expression of extreme fear, and reprimanding this behavior will deepen the fear. Undesirable behaviors, such as aggression, are high on the list of reasons cats end up in shelters.

The sooner these problems are addressed, the better. Watch your cat this evening and see if you can learn a little from their body language. If you can pick up on these early emotional cues, then communication between you and your cat will likely improve. You might find it even strengthens the wonderful bond you share.

Also Read: Why Does My Cat Bite Me When I Pet Her?

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I stop my cat from biting me?

Biting is often related to fear, pain, or communication issues, so there is plenty that you can do to help prevent your cat from biting you:

- Decrease stress around the house (children, noise, visitors, etc.).
- Increase their sense of security (provide a safe space, use pheromone products).
- Wash off or avoid abhorrent scents and shower when you come home from work.
- Allow your cat to approach you rather than approaching them.
- Give new cats plenty of time to settle in without encroaching on their space.
- Use cat toys to displace your cat's hunting drive and biting behaviors.
- Be mindful of how you stroke and pet your cat.
- Learn your cat's subtle signs of stress.
- Seek help from a professional cat behaviorist.
- Speak to your veterinarian if you think your cat might be unwell or in pain.

Does biting mean my cat doesn't like me?

As we discussed, there are plenty of reasons that cats bite. And many are not linked to your cat disliking you. Often, it is the person that is closest to them that is the target of their anxieties and frustrations. The same can be said of many human relationships! You must take the time to identify why your cat is biting you (not your partner) and address this issue.

If it is hard to decipher what the triggers are, this is when a cat behaviorist can help. A specialist who spends time with you and your cat within your home environment is best placed to advise you on what might be going wrong. And, of course, they can implement strategies to help resolve the issues.

Are cat bites dangerous?

Cat bites are unusual in that they seem small and harmless, but they can be dangerous to the recipient. This is because cats carry a huge amount of bacteria in their mouths and also relates to the depth at which this bacteria is injected into our flesh via their long fang-like canines. After a cat attack, cat bites will often throng and swell within minutes to hours. However, signs of infection might take longer to develop.

Cat bite infections can cause harm at the site of the trauma but also can make you extremely ill with flu-like symptoms. In rare cases, individuals might develop cat scratch disease caused by the bacteria Bartonella Hensel. This can lead to a serious infection affecting several organs around the body. If you have been bitten by a cat and it has broken the skin, you must seek rapid advice from your medical doctor.

View Sources

Finka LR, Ward J, Farnworth MJ, Mills DS. (2019). "Owner personality and the wellbeing of their cats share parallels with the parent-child relationship." PLoS One. 14(2):e0211862. Retrieved October 15, 2022.

Riemer S, Heritier C, Windschnurer I, Pratsch L, Arhant C, Affenzeller N. (2021). "A review on mitigating fear and aggression in dogs and cats in a veterinary setting." Animals. 11(1):158. Retrieved October 15, 2022.

Zhang L, Bian Z, Liu Q, Deng B. (2022). "Dealing With Stress in Cats: What is new about the olfactory strategy?" Frontiers in Veterinary Science. 9:928943. Retrieved October 15, 2022.

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