Why Does My Cat Randomly Bite And Attack Me?

a grey cat with green eyes biting down on a hand petting her

Why does my cat randomly bite me? The main motivations for your cat attacking you are either because they are bored and want the mental stimulation, they are showing you affection, they are seeking attention from you, are overstimulated, or are redirecting aggression at you.

With a little bit of knowledge and investigative work you should be able to work out what’s going on and cut the attacks out, so let’s dive right in and see what is going on, why it is happening and what you can do about it. We will look at some specific examples and decipher what is happening so you can compare it to your own real-world situation.

angry looking cat staring at a bare foot

The Motivations Of Random Cat Attacks Or Bites

Your cat can randomly bite or attack you for any number of reasons. You are going to have to look at your situation and apply a little bit of detective work. 

Straight off the bat, it is a good idea to identify whether the biting or attacks are truly aggressive or just soft attacks as this can identify the reasons behind the attack or bite. These are some of the main reasons cats bite randomly and we identify the ferocity or aggression involved in bites depending on motivation:

Affection

Cats bite to show affection! Strange though this may sound if you watch bonded cats grooming you will notice that as well as licking each other they use their teeth to gently grip and scuff up skin and fur. 

An affectionate bite, even at random, will be a nip or grip bite rather than a penetrative bite with vocalization. It is like a play bite although if it catches you by surprise you may be shocked and misinterpret the bite.

Attention Seeking

Come in from work and get busy sorting food without greeting your cat? When your cat sees a chance you might get a nip. 

Basically, say hello and don’t be rude. Your cat feels ignored and wants some fleeting attention. Once you give them a greeting and a few moments they will probably ignore you for the next few hours. Attention-seeking bites can happen whilst you sleep, whilst you are on a screen, or at any moment you are completely oblivious to your cat – usually, they are a short sharp nip rather than an aggressive, harmful bite.

Boredom/Mental Stimulation

Yawning tabby cat performing a dog pose stretch on a wooden garden table on a sunny day

Your cat gets bored. If they are bored and lacking any stimulation they are going to start occupying themselves. 

This is trouble. Think about the mad half-hour – bored cat running off the walls. Well, when they are bored or looking for something to do they may end up biting you or attacking you just for entertainment or to provoke a response from you. 

The attack won’t be serious – they are just looking for entertainment. It can be quite childlike really…

Overstimulation or Petting Aggression

Your cat will seemingly randomly attack or bite you when you are petting them or stroking them. Initially, a few gentle bites may be identified as affectionate bites but then these can escalate to stronger and more meaningful bites. 

This is petting aggression or overstimulation. Think of it like this – being tickled is ok initially, for like five seconds, but then it wears thin real quick and you may be inclined to lash out to end the assault.  For your cat, being stroked on the body may be quite an alien concept. Cat to cat grooming usually happens in the head and neck area. Your cat may put up with a few strokes but then just decides they have had enough and gives you a firm warning. This is petting aggression – the bite won’t draw blood unless you ignore the warnings…

Redirected Aggression

a grey cat looking out of a window at a ginger cat sitting on a porch

These can be full-on howling attacks with fierce bites that come from nowhere. If your cat views another local cat on their territory through a window it may become incensed. Sometimes, you can tell they are aggrieved because they will try to get to another vantage point fast to take a different view or they will physically search for a way to confront their enemy on the other side of the window.

If you, your child, or another pet are nearby they may feel the full force of your cat’s displeasure. Your cat in a blind fury may lash out at anything nearby without logical thought! Basically, they are visiting their pent-up fury on you! They can even store this bad humor for some time before releasing it on you or others. You didn’t do anything wrong – you are just on the receiving end of your cat’s displeasure. This is redirected aggression – and the bites and attacks can be vicious and require hospital attention!

These are the main motivations of RANDOM attacks and bites. You can get bit on purpose rather than randomly if your cat has a fear of hands brought on by an unpleasant experience or some sort of mental or hormonal issues – but these scenarios are for another day. Let’s look at some common scenarios where your cat randomly bites and identify what is going on and potentially how you can reduce these attacks :

Why Does My Cat Randomly Bite Me While Purring?

In this scenario, your cat is probably just showing you affection. The bites will be gentle or soft bites followed by licks and will be similar to the bites your cat might give to another cat that they are bonded with whilst grooming. 

tabby cat biting a hand gently in warning

Why Does My Cat Randomly Bite Me When I Pet Him

In this situation your cat is likely showing affection but be careful this does not spill over into full-on petting aggression. If the bites are gentle nips but then take a turn for the more aggressive then assume your cat has had enough and make a mental note as to your cat’s limits so you can avoid the situation arising again. Your cat may only put up with your stroking for a short time before warning you!  Read more about cats that bite whilst being petted here.

Why Does My Cat Randomly Bite Me At Night

If you are getting nipped on the toes whilst you drift off to sleep or even having your nose or face gently bitten the chances are your cat is trying to get your attention. 

Your cat is probably bored and wants some activity. The best route to solving these types of bites is actually to give your cat a good play session earlier in the day to satisfy their need for stimulation and exercise and to bond with you, then feed them before bedtime so they naturally settle down themselves at night. Read more about cats that bite whilst you sleep here.

a crouched alert cat in a doorway staring at feet readying to pounce
Lacking Stimulation?

Why Does My Cat Randomly Bite Me When I Walk By 

Why does my cat bite me as I walk by? If it is a gentle, playful bite they are bored, looking for attention, and just generally trying to get you to play with them. A play session that leaves them panting will probably put a stop to this type of random attack and bite. 

Why Does My Cat Randomly Bite Me Aggressively Or Hard

On the other hand, if you walk by and receive a hard bite or if your cat just randomly aggressively bites you out of nowhere then you are probably dealing with a case of redirected aggression. In these instances, it can be useful to try to identify why your cat is getting wound up. 

If you find other local cats are winding your cat up you can take action to deter them from your yard. 

If your cat is just randomly aggressive then daily play sessions to drain energy are probably going to be needed. Your cat may also be having territorial issues so you may have to have areas of your home dedicated to your cat so they can feel safe and have a retreat where they know they won’t be disturbed.

Final Thoughts

Random cat bites and attacks are usually less random than you think. Think about events preceding the bite and see, with some detective work, if you can identify the motivations and causes. Once you know what has caused the situation you can often reduce the occurrences or at least understand what lies behind the random bites!