My Cat Bites When Hungry (How Can I Stop It?)

cat bites me when hungry

Does your cat have a habit of biting you when its hungry? Don’t worry, you’re not alone! Many cat owners face this quirky, albeit painful behavior.

The good news is that it’s a common issue and totally manageable.

In this post, we’ll explore why cats bite when they’re hungry and share practical tips to help stop this behavior.

Primal Instincts

Cats are natural hunters and their instincts are deeply rooted in survival. When a cat feels hungry, these primal instincts kick in, driving their behavior.

Hunger is a powerful motivator and can override your cat’s typically gentle demeanor.

When your cat bites you because they’re hungry, it’s their way of communicating a need. In the wild, a hungry cat would hunt for food.

Domesticated cats don’t have to hunt but the urge to act on their hunger remains strong. This can lead to biting as a way to get your attention and prompt you to feed them.

Weaned Too Early

When a kitten is born, the first few months are very crucial for it. Not only for its survival but also for its mother cat to teach it the behaviors of a well-developed cat.

There are times when a mother cat will act roughly toward her kittens. This isn’t done out of malice but to teach them some respect and discipline.

The best time to remove a kitten from its mother is around 12-14 weeks of age. Any sooner and it can develop weird behavioral problems like attacking you whenever your cat hears you crying.

These cats also tend to be more aggressive towards humans and other pets.

I got a feeling them my cat was abandoned as a kitten as he did display similar problems of a kitten that was weaned too early.

I got him at 6 months of age and from what I understand from the shelter, he was returned twice for aggression.

Food Aggression

Your gentle feline can turn into a raging beast whenever food is concerned regardless if it is hungry or not.

This is known as food aggression in cats and it is rather similar to resource-guarding dogs. Here are some symptoms of food aggression:

  • Shows signs of aggression while eating
  • Gets angry when you try to get too close to its food bowl
  • Always on the lookout for food
  • Gets aggressive when hungry
  • Steals food from other pets or the garbage
  • Always crying for food

Food aggression isn’t very common in felines. However, it can be caused by factors like stress, early weaning, health issues, strong prey drive, and multi-cat households.

Are You Feeding Your Cat Enough?

The correct amount of food to feed your cat largely depends on its age. Kittens or younger cats would need more food per pound of body weight as compared to a full-grown adult cat.

As a rule of thumb, an adult cat needs about 20-25 calories per pound of weight. Younger cats can eat anything up to 50-100% more.

Don’t be surprised if your kitten is always hungry and crying for food.

Not only does the amount of food matter but the feeding frequency as well. Kittens and younger cats can eat up to six times a day due to their ravenous appetite.

It wouldn’t do them any good if you try and only feed them 2-3 times a day.

The larger food intake over fewer meal times can cause them to over eat and cause diarrhea and stomach upset.

A note to pet owners, puppies and kittens that eat often need to also use the toilet often. So make sure to let them have access to a toilet at all times.

How Do I Stop My Cat From Biting When Hungry?

It is never a good thing when you are afraid of getting bitten by your cat. You should not let your cat get away with such behavior as it will only get worse and harder to correct over time.

Here are some things that you can do:

Take Your Cat To The Vet

Before anything else, I would strongly suggest that you take your cat to the vet for an examination first.

It might be due to hunger that is causing your cat to act out but an underlying medical problem that is causing your cat to feel pain and discomfort.

Many health issues can cause behavioral problems so it is best to get this reason ruled out by the vet.

Wear Shoes When Necessary

When my cat was getting a little too nippy for my liking during feeding time, I would put on a thick pair of socks or shoes to protect my feet.

So even when my cat decides to bite my ankles, he won’t get a reaction out of it and a reaction can reinforce the bad behavior even further.

Protecting myself allows me to remain calm and collected in the presence of a hangry cat.

Distract And Disengage Your Cat

Make it a point to try and distract your cat before it tries to bite you. The best method that works for me is to shake an empty soda can filled with coins or marbles.

The sound will distract your cat and shoo it away.

Some pet owners also have success using their cat’s favorite toy or puzzle feeders. Anything that will do a good job of distracting your cat away from you.

Make sure to praise your cat when it redirects its focus away from you. Our cats love getting positive reinforcement too.

What Not To Do?

Do not at any point beat or physically strike your cat. Doing so can cause a lot of emotional and physical damage to your cat which can only make matters worse.

A stern “NO” is usually good enough to stop your cat in its tracks.

Please do not get rid or rehome your cat just because of this behavioral issue. This problem can be resolved with some patience and effort.

Why Is Hunger Such A Strong Motivator?

For living things, the stress of not knowing when the next meal will come can be overpowering. A study conducted by the National Institutes of Health in Marland has shown that hunger in mice is even stronger than thirst or fear.

This shows that hunger is nature’s biggest motivator for both humans and animals as it is required for the survival of every single species.

Our cats might be domesticated but when the feeling of hunger strikes, it can override whatever degree of docility they might have.

Do Cats Get Aggressive When Hungry?

Based on my experience with cats, it depends largely on the personality of the cat. That being said, the potential of many cats being aggressive when hungry is very possible.

As much as we regard our feline companions as family, they are first and foremost an animal without our level of reasoning and communication.

When is it feeding time and your cat isn’t getting its food, the feeling of hunger will start to induce stress and frustration in your cat.

Cats that are stressed out are very likely to exhibit aggressive behavior like biting or scratching.

As with other animals, our cats will exhibit certain body language when they are angry:

  • Loud meowing
  • Yowling
  • Puffed-up tail and body fur
  • Showing their claws and teeth
  • Hissing

If you do notice such body language from your cat, it would be best to leave your cat alone. Further interaction might result in undesirable consequences.

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