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Why Does My Cat Bite Me When I Sleep?

Why Does My Cat Bite Me When I Sleep?

Waking up to bite marks is not one of the things you sign up for when you become a cat parent. But sometimes, our feline friends can display some bizarre behavior. Your cat biting you while you’re sleeping could feel like they have turned against you. However, that’s not often the case. This unexplained behavior could be displayed by kittens or much older cats.

In this article, we’ll be answering your question: “Why does my cat bite me when I sleep?” Except your cat is being flat-out aggressive, there could be other explanations for this action. Read on, and we’ll let you in on some possible reasons your cat seems keen on harming you in your sleep.

Reasons Your Cat Bites You At Night

First off, it’s nearly impossible to know why your cat does what it does exactly. Many times, our suppositions are based on guesswork and contextual conclusions. You must keep in mind that it’s possible your cat doesn’t know that biting hurts, and it’s also possible that they don’t know it’s bad behavior. Here, we’ll be rounding up some possible reasons your cat bites you in your sleep.

1. Boredom

Like many other domestic pets, cats are pretty social. So, when it has no company because its owner is asleep, it sinks into boredom. This mostly happens when your cat is not sufficiently stimulated. At this point, your cat craves your company and attention. When your cat gets tired of waiting for you to wake up, it will try to wake you up.

Mainly, it may start by just nibbling on a part of your body. If you’re not responding, it would probably bite you lightly. If you’re still not waking up, it will probably go all the way and sink its teeth into your skin. In most cases, waking up and giving them a cuddle or patting can make them feel better. If they don’t ease up, then there might be another issue.

Note that your cat biting you is not acceptable behavior and can be corrected. We’ll give some tips later in the article on how to discourage bad behavior in your cat.

Guy petting cat

2. For Playtime

As stated earlier, your cat might be bored and in need of your company. However, at other times, it might be craving playtime. Keep in mind that cats can be crepuscular and can sleep for up to 18 hours a day. Most of the time they are asleep would probably be during the daytime. So, when you’re about to call it a day, your cat might just be getting started and want to play with you.

Seeing you asleep when it’s bursting with energy to play could be pretty frustrating for your cat. This is especially true when your cat’s environment is void of entertaining stimulants. It might start looking for toys or anything to play with or chase. If it doesn’t find any, it may just bite you to wake you up for play.

3. To Alert You About Something

Cats are pretty sensitive and can pick up on sounds and other minor changes in their environment. A cat’s territorial instincts can make it super protective of its space and its owner. Thus, if your cat senses some danger or thinks your attention is needed, it’ll alert you. So, if you happen to be dead asleep at the time, your cat might feel an urgent need to wake you up. If it can’t wake you up by any other means, it could bite you in your sleep.

If a cat wakes you up to alert you, it won’t show other bodily signs of aggression but instead might try to lead you to the object of its concern.

4. Hunger

If your cat has not been fed in a while, it will start to get hungry. If it gets hungry and you’re still asleep, it’ll find a way to wake you up. Thus, it might resort to biting you lightly just to wake you up for food. If the biting is more severe, your cat might be naughty, or you’re a really deep sleeper. Either way, it’s not a behavior you should allow to continue.

Orange cat sitting

5. Aggression

Sometimes, there are no logical reasons for your cat’s behavior besides feline aggression. For whatever reason, your cat might deliberately attack you in your sleep. This behavior is very problematic, and you must try to figure out if there is a cause. Male cats are more likely to show this pattern of unprovoked aggression than female cats.

Generally, however, felines are innately aggressive. Even a domesticated one like your house cat can often be impulsively aggressive to its owner. To know if its biting is an aggressive attack, look out for other signs of aggression like flattened ears or hissing. If you see these signs, know that your cat is angry about something or someone and purposely attacking you.

6. Health Issues

Specific neurological or endocrine issues could negatively affect your cat’s behavior. If your cat’s biting habit is a recent development, there could be an underlying medical cause. Keep in mind that except your cat is being purposely naughty, every other time it bites you in your sleep is probably to wake you up for a reason. Hyperthyroidism is one endocrine disorder that could potentially affect your cat’s behavior.

How to Stop Your Cat From Biting You in Your Sleep

Figuring out why your cat attacks you at night can be difficult. However, when you figure out why or suspect why, you can start working on a fix. We’ll give you a few remedies to keep your cat from biting you in your sleep.

1. Quality Time

As we stated earlier, your cat could really just be in need of your company. Thus, it is essential that you set out time to hang out with your cat daily. Even though you might have a busy schedule, you should make an effort to include some minutes of quality time with your cat.

If you spend enough time cuddling and playing with your cat, it might not be so hungry for your attention when you are sleeping.

Fluffy gray cat

2. Increase Environmental Stimulation

Cats thrive in physically and mentally stimulating environments. Thus, an improvement in their environmental conditions might drastically affect their behavior. Bringing a new cat into the picture might also help in some cases. However, just providing prey-like toys and objects to scratch on will go a long way. Also, for optimized stimulation, create a vertical playground with toys and other rattling items or things your cat can chase around.

Try not to go overboard with the toys, though. Cats have different personalities, and what counts as a perfectly stimulating environment to one may constitute overstimulation for another.

3. Feed Your Cat

Never go to bed without feeding your hungry cat. If you think your cat bites you because it needs to be fed, ensure that you always feed your cat before its bedtime. A well-fed cat will usually rest well and not come biting you in your sleep. However, don’t overfeed your cat in a bid to keep it at bay, as overfeeding can be bad for your cat.

4. Exercise Your Cat Before Bedtime

This tip works like a charm all the time. Wearing out your cat through physical exercise will ensure that your cat sleeps deeply without interrupting yours.

This could also be an opportunity to bond with your cat, as you can engage your cat in games that involve chasing and climbing.

Exercising your cat after feeding it will put your cat in the perfect state to sleep through the night and not bite you in your sleep.

5. Use Positive Reinforcement and Punish Bad Behavior

It’s crucial that you identify bad behavior in your cat and discourage it. As a cat parent, it’s best to start discouraging your cat’s bad behaviors from their kitten years. To discourage your cat from biting, you can walk away from it, basically reinforcing to it that its biting will not get your attention. That way, your cat might go bite or nibble on something else, like its toys.

Another tip is to spray your cat with clean water whenever it bites you in your sleep. This spraycan trick is no fun for the cat, and they would run off to avoid another spritz of water. This action will help them associate biting you in your sleep with getting sprayed, and they might altogether stop the behavior.

Be consistent with your reactions to pass a clear message to your cat. Also, learn to encourage good behavior in your cat. If they do something well or improve on corrected behavior, you can reward them with a treat or a cuddle.

Fluffy gray cat

6. Educate Your Cat Early

Educating your cat from its kitten stage will keep you from the uphill task of trying to fix its bad behavior as an adult. If you let your kitten nibble on your toes and fingers, it might grow up thinking it’s OK to do anything with your body.

It’s best to set up boundaries and structures for your cat to get accustomed to. As a kitten, don’t encourage even small bites when you’re awake because it would increase the chances of getting bitten in your sleep.

7. Deny Access to Your Room

Because cats are innately territorial, allowing them access to your room would reinforce that they are in charge of your space. Disallowing them later could become hard. To prevent the occurrence of night-time bites, deny your cat access to your room.

Give your cat a comfortable space to sleep, and it’ll get used to it and stay out of your space.

8. Set Up Surveillance

You might need to set up a camera to monitor your cat if necessary. This might give you more insight into your cat’s behavior when you’re asleep. Also, it could make you observe if your cat has any triggers. It could also serve as a variable resource if you ever need to see a cat behaviorist.

9. Visit the Veterinary Doctor

It’s important to schedule regular visits to the vet for your cat. Also, you should take your cat to see the vet if the night bites are starting to get worrisome. Also, if you suspect that your cat’s behavior results from illness, contact the vet immediately.

Related Questions

1. Can I spank my cat for biting me?

It’s never a good idea to control your cat by hitting or hurting it by any means. Physical discipline can be effective with dogs to an extent. However, that option should never be explored with cats.

There are different ways to discipline your pet cat without necessarily getting physical. You must also understand that most of the time, cats do not mean to be aggressive and might just be trying to communicate with you. Thus, you should try not to take bite attacks personally.

Final Thoughts

Biting you at night will make your cat lose some cute points. But more importantly, it can be annoying and even pose a health risk.

Your cat might be biting you out of hunger or boredom/lack of stimulation. In some cases, you just have a badly-behaved cat that’s taking out its aggression on you. Whatever the case may be, it’s best to sternly discourage your cat from biting you at night.