It might be a little off-putting whenever you stroke the side of fluffy Bootsie's face and feel her tiny teeth against your skin. However, feline chewing behavior isn't at all uncommon and actually can be a sign of everything from insufficient kitten age training to pure enthusiasm.
Kitten Age Relic
If your cat chews on your fingers, it could be because she was never trained not to as a young kitten. Wee kittens, just like puppies, are extremely wide-eyed and inquiring creatures. They use their mouths to check things out, from peoples' fingers to household furnishings. If your precious feline doesn't know not to employ your poor hand as a chew toy, she just doesn't know not to do it, plain and simple. If she was allowed as a kitten to play with your hands using her teeth, she'll continue doing so as a mature cat -- but with sharper chompers. Although it's a playful act on your pet's part, it can still hurt your fingers.
Some cats chew on peoples' fingers out of unbridled enthusiasm. If your cat can barely contain her happiness regarding the attention you're giving her, she might just start chewing on your fingers. Perhaps she was waiting all day for you to come home from work and give her attention, and now you're back and she's joyously overwhelmed -- voila, finger chewing.
Cats can occasionally get a little aggressive when they're feeling testy. If your cat's finger chewing is a bit sharper and could pass as a bite, it might actually be one. If you're petting your cat and don't pick up on her cues of "enough is enough," she might feel no choice but to resort to biting to get you to cut it out. When cats feel overstimulated, they want nothing more to do with the petting they were often so sweetly requesting mere minutes ago. Cats frequently express their "stop" signals through thrashing their tails, pushing their ears down and acting in an antsy manner. Never let a cat with biting tendencies close to children or other pets. Talk to your vet about solutions for eliminating your cat's biting tendencies immediately. She might suggest a professional cat behaviorist in your area.
If your cat doesn't get sufficient exercise or interaction with humans, she might have a lot of pent-up energy inside. If she chews or bites on your fingers, she might just be using them as an outlet for her frustrated feelings. If your cat is chewing on your fingers out of boredom, it's time to take action, whether through participating in extended nightly play sessions or getting her some fun interactive toys that get her brain going.
Oral fixations in cats are sometimes associated with lack of time spent with their mothers as kittens. If a kitten was weaned prematurely, she might grow into an adult cat who continues displaying baby-like actions, whether suckling, licking or nibbling. These things often serve as self-soothing actions for cats, and some turn to them as modes of dealing with unpleasant emotions and situations such as sickness, fear and nervousness. A veterinarian can determine the source of your cat's finger chewing and then proceed in getting rid of the issue, whether it involves managing a medical ailment or using a feline behavioral expert.
- The Humane Society of the United States: My Cat Bites or Is Upset By People
- Humane Society of Missouri: Chewing and Sucking Behaviors in Cats
- Wisconsin Humane Society: My Cat is Usually Friendly, But Sometimes When I'm Petting Her She Bites Me. What Can I Do?
- ASPCA: Cats Who Suckle and Lick People
- Vetstreet: Why Does My Cat... Bite Me When I Pet Her?
- Starting From Scratch; Pam Johnson-Bennett
- Think Like a Cat; Pam Johnson-Bennett
- Photo Credit Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Getty Images