Every once in a while it happens: you're petting your cat in a soothing fashion when suddenly he or she turns on you in an abrupt about face and tries to bite you. So, what happened in between all the purring, love and affection and the hiss, snarl and snap? Well, it could just mean that they're over it.
That's right. They're trying to tell you they've received all of the attention they want, end of story. It boils down to over stimulation. Unlike dogs, who never seem to get tired of petting and affection, cats have a quota for stimulation, and once that's met they terminate the stimulant in the way they know best via a love bite that signals they're done. But why? Why not just get up and remove themselves from the situation first?
While not all cats do this, many do. If you've predominantly kept cats as pets, you've probably had it happen at least once in your lifetime. Don't take it to heart. Cats are extremely sensitive creatures, much more so than dogs. And this is meant in the literal sense. Their whiskers are capable of detecting changes all around them through movement in the air.
Most people aren't aware of this, but cats have whiskers beyond their muzzles. They are also located on their legs, chin and other parts of their anatomy. A lot of times, during petting, we inadvertently create a whisker sensory overload. This triggers the bristling behavior that results in a snarl or a snap and an eventual stalking off to be left alone. It's the pissy, indignant glare as they skulk away to sulk that really gets you.
In Need of Space
As cat owners well know, this little hissy fit doesn't usually last long, but there's no sense in over-reacting to this boorish behavior. Just give them their space. Don't lash out in retaliation or chase them down to chastise them. They will tolerate that even less than the over petting. Let them be and wait for them to seek you out again on their own terms. You can't force love and there's no way of really correcting them.
Kids & Cats
If you have a cat like this and you live with young kids or they visit your home regularly, be sure and educate them about the cat. Make sure they understand that the cat is capable of displaying this behavior and that petting should be kept to a minimum. Also explain to them that they mustn't strike the animal in a knee-jerk reaction. This will obviously just make the cat leery and distrustful and possibly antisocial towards children.
Do you have cats with behavioral issues like this and, if so, do they have tells before they strike? Tell us about it in the comment section below.