Why Does My Cat Bite Me When I Sleep?

Why Does My Cat Bite Me When I Sleep

Cats can be the perfect companions for snuggling up at night. They’re soft, warm, and emit a soothing purr that lulls cat owners into a peaceful slumber. However, there’s one drawback to sleeping beside your feline friend. Suddenly, amidst your blissful sleep, you feel the sharp sting of your cat’s teeth sinking into your skin. It’s undoubtedly a rude awakening. Regardless of whether the bite is gentle or aggressive, it’s crucial to address this behavior.

Why Does My Cat Bite Me When I Sleep?

There are several reasons why your cat might bite you while you sleep:

1. Cats are active at night

Most cats are crepuscular or nocturnal, meaning they are active during dawn and dusk. During the day, cats prefer to nap, which leaves them with an abundance of energy to expend at nighttime. On the contrary, humans and dogs are typically diurnal creatures, awake during the day and sleeping through the night.

Kittens and recently adopted cats, who aren’t yet well-trained, tend to be rambunctious and run around during the early hours of the morning. However, mature cats tend to mellow out with age, becoming more relaxed as the years pass.

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2. To engage in play

Because cats are most active at night, they easily become bored. A bored cat, in turn, seeks stimulation and desires to play. Even though everyone in the house is fast asleep, your cat craves interaction and may attempt to wake you up. Pawing at you and meowing are initial attempts, but if those methods prove ineffective, your cat might resort to biting. The nibble could be gentle or escalate to a harder bite that draws blood.

3. Out of aggression

Observe your cat’s behavior immediately after it bites you in your sleep. Is the cat hissing? Are its ears flat and down? Is its tail wagging? These are telltale signs of aggression in cats, suggesting that your cat intentionally tried to harm you.

The biting behavior may indicate that your cat is expressing anger or dissatisfaction. Male cats are more commonly prone to aggression, while female cats are most likely to exhibit aggression after giving birth.

4. To draw attention to something

Dogs often bark to alert their owners to something important. However, cats lack the vocal capability to create as attention-grabbing a sound as a dog’s bark. Consequently, they employ different tactics to wake you up. Cats are highly perceptive to their surroundings, so any unusual sound, sight, or smell alarms them. If they perceive an emergency, they may resort to biting to rouse you from slumber.

Once you’re awake, cats that bite in order to inform you of something are not aggressive. They will attempt to get you out of bed and lead you to investigate the matter. If this occurs, don’t hesitate to get out of bed and attend to your cat’s concern. Ignoring them and returning to sleep might result in another bite.

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5. To be fed

A hungry cat will not hesitate to wake you up. Satisfying their hunger is a priority that demands immediate attention. A hungry cat’s bite tends to be gentle. However, if the bite is aggressive, there might be a different underlying reason.

6. Cats lack the awareness that biting is wrong

Regardless of the reason behind the biting, it’s essential to remember that cats are unaware that this behavior is undesirable. Reacting impulsively and punishing your cat should be avoided. We will discuss effective training tips to reduce and eliminate this biting behavior.

Tips to Help Prevent Cat Biting

Here are some strategies to keep your cat from biting you:

1. Spray them with water

A reliable method for dealing with a biting cat is to use a spray bottle. Before going to sleep, place a spray bottle filled with water within reach. If your cat bites you in your sleep, reach for the spray bottle and quickly spritz your cat in the face. The cat will retreat and hide. Consistently repeat this spray bottle approach each time your cat bites, associating biting with the unwelcome spray of water. Eventually, your cat will learn to refrain from biting.

2. Spend quality time with your cat

Although cats may not be social with most other cats and animals, they can be quite social with their favorite humans. Your cat might express disappointment at the lack of attention it receives by resorting to biting you while you sleep. Therefore, it’s crucial to allocate quality bonding time for you and your cat, regardless of how busy your schedule may be.

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3. Engage in evening exercise to tire your cat

One effective way to address the biting behavior is to spend time exercising and tiring out your cat in the evening, just before both of you retire for the night. This approach allows your cat to engage in playtime with you while simultaneously expending its energy. Consequently, your cat will sleep soundly and continuously throughout the night.

4. Feed your cat before bedtime

If your cat bites you during the night to wake you up for food, try feeding your cat right before you go to bed. Additionally, consider feeding your cat after playing, as it will encourage them to go to bed feeling tired and satisfied. This approach minimizes the likelihood of your cat waking you up with a bite.

5. Establish boundaries against aggression

It’s important to address any aggression displayed by your cat, whether awake or asleep. One effective strategy is to walk away and ignore your cat immediately after it behaves aggressively. This communicates to the cat that rough playtime ends when they start getting too rough. By implementing consequences for their actions, your cat will become more aware of the boundaries.

6. Use a camera for insight

For a more technical approach to problem-solving, consider setting up a camera to record your cat’s nocturnal activities. This might provide insight into your cat’s intentions and motives, helping you better understand their behavior.

Image: istockphoto.com / Toa55

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