Cat biting you? Here's what may be going on - Dr. Marty Becker

Cat biting you? Here’s what may be going on

Tuesday, May 30th, 2017 | By Dr. Marty Becker

Is your cat suddenly biting you when you pet her? Or have you recently adopted a new cat who is showing this behavior? The answer might be pain, as I explain to a reader who wrote asking about her cat’s biting.

Q: Lately, every time I pet my cat, she tries to bite me. Why has she started doing that?

A: Your cat may be troubled by back pain. Cats are slinky and athletic, and most people don’t think of them as prone to musculoskeletal problems. But cats are always jumping on and off high places and contorting their bodies into weird positions. It’s no surprise that sometimes they can hurt themselves if they land wrong or run into something as they’re chasing a ball or toy. And with age, cats can certainly develop arthritis. If your cat is stiff or in pain, she may well react with a bite when your hand runs across a tender spot as you’re petting her.

It’s always a good first step to take your cat to the veterinarian for a physical exam to confirm whether she has pain from an injury or arthritis. If that’s the case, there are several options to help your cat enjoy being petted again. Talk to your veterinarian about medication. There are safe drugs available to help relieve arthritis pain in cats.

Nutritional supplements such as glucosamine and chondroitin may help as well. Keep in mind that it can take up to a couple of months to start seeing an effect.

Your cat may also benefit from acupuncture, chiropractic and massage therapies. The practitioner should be a veterinarian trained in those modalities, or someone who works under the supervision of a veterinarian. Not every complementary therapy is right for every cat. For instance, chiropractic is not appropriate for cats who have fractures, any type of cancer, or who are very old or very young.

Weight loss, a heated bed and warm compresses may benefit your cat as well. With appropriate treatment, your cat should soon be purring again from petting.

Read more, including the scoop on puzzle feeders, in this week’s Pet Connection!