Why Does My Cat Bite Me When I’m Asleep?

Why Your Cat Bites When You Are Sleeping

Nobody enjoys being woken up from a restful night’s sleep, especially if you are bitten awake! As a cat parent, odds are you’ve experienced this startling awakening at least once. 

If your cat seems to have a tendency to bite you while you are sleeping, you are probably at your wit’s end and looking for solutions. (Although it might be slightly less annoying than your cat sleeping on top of you.)

Of course, you could make sure that you don’t allow your cat into your room during the night, but most people with pets don’t want to make these kinds of choices. To tackle the problem of having your cat bite you while you are sleeping, you will first want to have a good sense of why your cat is doing it. 

There are actually quite a few reasons why your cat may feel inclined to bite you while you sleep. 

Reason #1: Cats Enjoy Playing

Most people who have cats know that cats are excitable animals that enjoy playing whenever they get the chance to do so. 

From playing with a passing particle of dust to chasing after shadows, string, and everything in between, cats love to play with just about anything. 

Many cats seem to be perplexed and fascinated when things under the sheets move, as they may not understand that it is simply you moving. If you are someone who is prone to moving around during your sleep and you sleep with the cat on the bed, your cat may be biting you because you moved and it thought that this was time to play. 

This may especially be the case if you regularly play with your cat by encouraging it to attack your hand under the sheets, as it has learned to associate this type of action with playing. 

Similarly, consider how cats tend to sleep for most of the day and are active during the night, when you are the one who is asleep. Chances are that your cat is going to want your attention and doesn’t understand that humans have different sleep schedules from cats. 

After all, cats tend to perceive humans as strangely shaped cats. What this means is that your cat may be biting you because it is bored and this is how cats initiate play with each other: by provoking the other. 

While it may be annoying to wake up from a comfortable sleep to a nippy cat, keep in mind that it is a sign that your cat wants to spend time with you and that it is simply bored and wants your attention. 

Making sure to dedicate some time to playing with your cat during the day can help reduce the chances that your cat gets bored at night and tries to entertain itself with your feet under the sheets. 

Reason #2: Cats May Be Aggressive

There are times when your cat biting you may be something more than play, and determining what the cause is may mean that you have to pay more attention to the cat’s body language, even if you are bleary because you have just been woken up by an angry cat. 

If your cat has a lowered posture with raised hackles, ears flattened and pointed backward, with its tail angrily wagging back and forth, these are all physical signs that your cat is feeling threatened to the point where it has no choice but to attack you. 

If the bite from your cat was accompanied by hissing or growling, this is also a sign that the bite was done out of aggression. This means that there is something going on that has not only threatened your cat, but has made it believe that attacking you is going to help the cat defend itself. 

Consider the circumstances of the cat and your own sleeping habits. If you are prone to moving or flailing in your sleep, you may have accidentally hit the cat and it is simply retaliating. 

If this is the case, you shouldn’t take it as an offense as much as the cat getting startled by the sudden wake-up. If your cat has just recently given birth to a litter, there’s a good chance it will be more aggressive than usual, to the point of biting people when seemingly unprovoked. 

There isn’t much you can do here aside from waiting it out, as this aggression lasts for a few days after the litter has been born. If the cat is showing other signs of unwarranted aggression during the day, you may want to consider a health-related cause for the aggression, such as pain or discomfort. 

If the cat’s behavior has changed to being far more aggressive than the cat typically is, then it may be time to visit the vet to determine if this is a behavioral issue or a medical one. 

Reason #3: Cats Are Light Sleepers

Something that a lot of people don’t realize is that cats are fairly light sleepers. While they sleep for the majority of the day, rather than dedicating one chunk of time to sleeping, they take several light naps throughout the day. This means that they are not really getting the same type of deep sleep that people go through when they settle down for bed. 

What this means for your cat is that it may easily be woken up and startled out of sleeping. If something has woken your cat up and agitated it, it may try to wake you up as well so that you, as the leader of the cat pack, can tend to the problem. 

Consider your cat’s body language and how it is acting. Also, if you were woken up by the same thing that has bothered your cat, you may also want to investigate what it is so that you can solve the problem. 

If your cat seems anxious, unable to sit still, and generally unnerved by something, it may be worth getting out of bed and following the cat to see what the problem was. It could be that the cat heard a noise from outside, or it could be that the cat has been genuinely scared by something. 

If your cat bit you because it was afraid of something, you shouldn’t ignore the biting. This only encourages the cat to continue to bite you until you deal with what they perceive to be a threat.

Reason #4: Cats Are Creatures of Routine

One thing that cat parents will come to learn after a time with their cat is that they are very routine-based animals. 

If they learn that you have a set schedule of when you get up and when you go to bed, then they will learn the times, cues, and triggers that indicate that you are getting up to feed them. 

Naturally, when you are off from the cat’s expected schedule, your cat is going to be confused. 

In the cat’s mind, this is the time when it should be fed and since you are still in bed, there is clearly something wrong. As such, your cat will try to wake you up in the most natural way it can think of, which will be biting you.

To reduce the chances of this happening, make sure that you stick to the schedule that you have set. If there is a circumstance or a reason why you aren’t following the specific schedule that you usually do and you don’t want to be woken up in the morning by your hungry cat, consider leaving extra food in the bowl the night before so that the cat can eat to its content while you sleep in. Or better yet, use an automatic cat feeder to maintain the feeding schedule so you don’t need to fuss with it!

Lara Kitt

When we aren't scooping up droppings to ensure a luxurious litter box experience for our fur babies, we are writing all sorts of stuff about cats for your enjoyment and knowledge.

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