Living with a cat means facing random and unexpected attacks at random and unexpected times. You could very casually be walking by an open door, a chair, a couch, and your feet may be pounced on and bitten out of the blue.
Why do cats bite our feet? Why do they attack them while we are walking, why do they bite them while we are in bed, what’s up with that?
Why Does My Cat Bite My Feet?
Cats tend to bite your feet when they want to play. From their perspective, feet are the perfect toy, and they won’t hesitate to grab it. They may also be looking to grab your attention, and very rarely, it might also be a sign of aggression.
Just like cats tend to purr and then bite you, they will also bite at your feet. It will usually be a playful bite, a way to get your attention and have a bit of fun while you are busy trying to do something else.
If your cat is mad at you, they may also bite your feet to show their frustration. As long as you apologize to them, the biting should stop. If the aggressive behavior continues, make sure to consult your vet or a behavior specialist to get to the root of it.
They Are Playing
Cats are playful animals, and play is an important learning tool for them. This is how they hone their hunting skills.
Your feet, conveniently placed, are often too tempting for your hunter friend. They move around a lot, they tend to hide under the covers, they are often covered in an exceptionally interesting item, the slipper. What’s not to like?
Plus, you will likely react to the bite. Even if you just laugh, your cat will feel rewarded, and is likely to keep hunting you.
Try not to stop your cat when they playfully lunge at your feet. While it may be slightly inconvenient for you, these bites will rarely, if ever, penetrate the skin. It’s very important for a cat to stay mentally and physically stimulated, and hunting your feet provides both, so think of it as your way of ensuring your pet enjoys their life with you.
They Are Being Affectionate
Cats learn at an early age to associate gentle biting with love. Mother cats will nibble their kittens, cats will bite their own fur while cleaning themselves, and they will give you tender love bites. Your feet will sometimes be the target.
Note that there is also the other type of cat bite, the one that signals you have taken play too far and your cat now feels the need to become more aggressive. This can especially happen when they are playing with your hands or feet, and is more common among male cats.
When your cat throws its ears back and starts to bite in earnest, you should stop the play and let them calm down. It’s just their instincts kicking in, don’t worry.
They Are Hunting
Younger cats tend to hunt your feet more often. It’s in their DNA, and you should never try to train it out of them. If you mind your feet being the target, make sure your cats have plenty of active toys that will ensure their hunting skills are satisfied.
Older cats will also hunt your feet, albeit less often, and will tend to prefer a more peaceful retirement.
You may notice your cat stalking your feet before they pounce. You know that wiggly thing they do with their bottom before they jump? This is a clear sign they have designated a part of your body as prey. Don’t take it personally, they are just practicing.
Cats that get to spend some time outdoors will usually bite your feet less often, as they have had plenty of other opportunities to practice their hunting game. Indoor cats will need to make the most of the situation, so be prepared to sacrifice some fuzzy socks or slippers to their needs.
My daughter used to have a pair of slippers with teddy bear heads on them, and our cat at the time would go nuts whenever she walked past. You could literally see him go from peaceful lap cat to prime hunter in the space of two seconds.
They Are Bored
If your cat hasn’t had anything to play with for a while, they may get bored and choose to attack your feet instead. And while leaving plenty of toys out for them is a great start, you also need to devote plenty of time in the day for playing with them yourself.
Inanimate toys will never be as interesting to a cat as toys that move and interact with them. This is why the simple string is so popular. It’s live prey!
Whatever toy you choose, give your cat a bit of a run for their money every day, and they will be much less likely to attack your feet, or get bored.
They Are Looking For Attention
If you’ve not interacted with your cat in a while, they may choose to show their displeasure by biting your feet. If you are ignoring them and watching the TV in bed, they will find a route under the covers and will make you pay attention, whether you’d like to or not.
If you notice your cat is usually attacking your feet when you are busy doing something, it likely means they want you to drop everything and play or cuddle with them. Don’t encourage this behavior. Don’t give them a treat or feed them, and don’t play with them just yet. It will reinforce the connection between biting and getting what they want, so they will do it even more often.
Instead, reward the behavior you want to encourage, and only provide food and attention when the cat is calm.
They Are Overstimulated
Cats will also bite your feet when they are overstimulated. If you’ve been playing or cuddling for a while and they want out, they may bite your feet and run off to get some privacy.
This is nothing unusual nor is it something to worry about. It’s completely normal cat behavior, and your pet will be back to play and cuddle when they are ready.
They May Have a Medical Issue
Rarely, biting your feet may be a sign of a medical problem. If it hasn’t been happening before, it may mean your cat is in pain, which is making them more defensive and aggressive.
If your cat has anxiety issues or has experienced trauma, especially as a kitten, it may lash out when it feels threatened, even though there is nothing threatening about the situation. Cats that have spent a long time living on the streets can also be more aggressive and territorial.
If your cat suddenly starts biting any part of you, consult a vet or a cat behavior specialist to understand what the cause is and better understand how you can fix the issue.
How Do I Get My Cat To Stop Biting My Feet?
There are several things you can do to stop your cat biting your feet:
Your first step can be to ignore your cat when they bite your feet. Don’t talk to them, don’t offer them any attention, just act like nothing has happened. You can even leave the room.
Your cat will soon realize they are not getting what they want out of you, and stop biting. Make sure you don’t make them feel punished though, and pet or play with them when you come back.
Redirect Their Attention
You can also redirect your cat’s attention to a toy when they start biting your feet. Since they are in a playful and hunting mood, grab something you can use as prey. It can be a stuffed cat toy or even some string (we have what is known as the “catting rod”, a piece of string tied to a plastic rod that looks like a fishing rod). As long as it moves, your cat will go after it and leave your feet alone.
Calmly Move Them Away
If you want your cat to stop biting your feet, it’s important not to react like prey. Don’t jump or yell at them, rather gently and calmly push them away from your feet. You can also calmly remove yourself from their vicinity.
Don’t punish them and make sure to show them affection as soon as you see them again. That way you’ll avoid forming a negative association in their mind, and will merely tell them you don’t like the biting, but you still love them.
Don’t Use Your Feet as Toys
Many of us inadvertently encourage the biting behavior by using our feet as toys. When you playfully move your feet under the covers and expect your cat to jump on them, you are telling them that feet can be attacked.
This means your cat is more than likely to attack your feet while you are moving around in your sleep. Since they are likely to sleep at the foot of the bed, they will promptly notice the movement. And proceed to attack.
Why Is My Cat Obsessed With My Feet?
Your cat likes your feet partly because they have such a strong smell. They also happen to move and serve as a great toy, so you can expect your cat to both rub their face against them, and occasionally bite.
Even if your feet are perfectly clean and you’ve just walked out of the shower, your cat will come to check the difference in smell. As the day goes on and your feet start to smell more strongly, your feline will be attracted by the pheromones and come to share their own.
And since your feet move around so much, your cat simply won’t be able to resist the temptation, and they will sooner or later start to play with them.
Why Does My Cat Attack My Feet When I Walk Away?
Cats will attack your feet as you are walking away because they view your feet as prey, and to them, you are initiating a chase. Their only choice is to follow.
If you try to move away while your cat is hunting any part of you, they are likely to further their attack, as you are engaging in typical prey behavior: trying to flee. If you want your cat to stop attacking your feet, you should ignore them and stop moving, rather than run away.
Why Does My Cat Lick And Bite My Feet?
Cats will lick and bite your feet when they are playful or when they are showing you affection. In the cat world, licks and bites often go together completely naturally.
Your cat may be grooming you a bit, or they may just be engaging in some typical snuggling behavior. They won’t bite hard, so don’t try to make them stop.
Wrapping It Up
Cats bite your feet because they want to play with them or when they are showing you a bit of cat affection. Don’t be alarmed and don’t engage if you would like them to stop. If you regularly tempt your cat to attack your feet while lying under the covers, expect them to identify feet with prey, and act accordingly.