Dear Miss Behavin’: I am having some trouble with my cat. Sometimes while I’m petting my cat she swipes at me or tries to bite me. A few times it has happened after only a few pets. What is going on with my cat and why can’t I pet her for very long?
Like with humans, cats have their limit of social and physical interaction. Some cats can tolerate it longer than others. The first few pets might feel really good to a cat, and then it goes on a little too long and becomes too much and over-stimulating. Since cats can’t speak to us, they give us body signals instead to tell us that they have reached their limit. Some of these signs include: flattened ears, a twitching/flicking tail, fast head movements to watch your hand, dilated pupils, and a tense body. If you notice any of these while petting your cat, it’s best to stop! Your cat has had enough and is telling you that they are done. If you are already caught in the middle of a cat nipping at you, it’s best to stay still and not jerk your hand away. Give your cat space before trying to pet again. You can also try to re-direct that energy with a toy so they don’t go for your hands or fingers. It’s always best to watch a cat’s body language so you can stop while you are ahead and you’ll both be happy!