If you are new to owning cats, you will quickly find that they can have very quirky personalities. Their personality can take manifest in ways you may not be prepared for, especially if you have never owned a young pet before.
One of the most common problems that people have with their cats, especially younger kittens, is that cats have a tendency to try and bite their owners’ feet. Most people don’t appreciate the sharp teeth on their sensitive toes.
Because this type of behavior is typically unwanted, most people will work with their cats on helping them learn not to do it.
With that being said, some people may begin to wonder why exactly cats feel the need to do this. After all, you can’t effectively solve a problem if you don’t know where it is coming from.
The first step to helping your cat learn not to bite your feet is to understand why cats do this in the first place. There are a few reasons why your cat might take a liking to attacking your feet.
Cats Are Natural Hunters
Out in the wild, and in the ancestral history of most domesticated cats, cats are predatory animals.
They may be the apex predator in some environments and they may be a higher-ranking predator that has only a few enemies in others, but no matter where a wild cat is, they often take the position of hunting.
Even if your cat is domesticated, they still have those hunting instincts ingrained deep in their mind and that sometimes becomes evident.
Whether your cat is a young kitten who is first understanding the world, or your cat is a breed that has a higher natural prey drive than others, one of the biggest reasons why cats bite your feet is that it is simulating a hunting experience.
This can be split into two categories: playful hunting and harmful hunting. Other times, cats may bite your feet for other reasons, such as wanting attention.
If your cats are particularly young, they may bite your toes for the same reason why toddlers put everything in their mouths. Your young kitten is exploring and your toes seem strange to it so it is only trying to see if they are edible.
Distinguishing the Types of Your Cat’s Behavior
Playful hunting is often what younger and more playful cats will do. You will be able to distinguish this type of behavior from harmful hunting by the fact that most cats will not use their claws in the process. If they do, they are not actively trying to cause damage so much as trying to grasp your foot.
When cats hunt playfully, they may use their teeth but it will be in the form of nipping, meaning that they are not trying to penetrate the skin. This is how cats play — they see your feet as a moving target and so they attack.
Your cat is treating you the same way that it would treat another cat if it wanted to play. This should be taken as a sign of a good bond with your cat even if it is annoying.
Harmful hunting, on the other hand, is when your cat sees your feet as a moving target and chooses to simulate a hunting experience as if your feet are actual prey.
When cats are playing in this manner, they are attacking to draw blood. When they bite, they bite hard enough to penetrate the skin. When they use their claws, they do so as if they are attacking prey, often drawing blood.
They do this not out of malice toward you but often because there is a lack of physical stimulation so they have to create it themselves. When cats create their own stimulation, this is often at the expense of others, such as when cats attack your feet.
Signs of Distress
There is a third type of behavior that may cause cats to bite at your feet, although it is less common. If a cat is in some form of physical distress, such as being scared, hungry, or thirsty, and they see you as the “leader” of the house rather than a stranger, then they may come to you for attention to alleviate that physical distress.
More often than not, the closest part of your body to your cats is going to be your feet, making it one of the only ways that your cat can get your attention. When cats bite your feet for this reason, it will also be in the form of nipping as your cat is not trying to fight.
To distinguish this from when cats are simply playing, there’s a good chance that your cat will be meowing loudly for food or acting scared if it is intimidated.