How To Stop My Cat From Biting My Ankles

By Ameera Mills. Updated: September 2, 2018
How To Stop My Cat From Biting My Ankles

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If you share a home with a cat, you have probably already been surprised by an ’’attack on the ankles‘‘. Many owners are concerned about this habit as it appears to be a possible symptom of aggressiveness. However, in general, a cat that chases ankles of its owners is simply bored and doesn’t have another way to exercise their natural hunting instinct positively.

Do you wonder why cats bite your ankles? In this AnimalWised article we will tell you why this happens and ultimately how to stop your cat from biting your ankles.

Imagen: YouTube @Bad Cat Chris

You may also be interested in: How to Stop My Shiba Inu from Biting Me

Factors that influence this behaviour

Despite having been "domesticated," cats maintain innate hunting instincts, as do all felines. However, unlike their wild relatives, our pets haven’t needed their skills as notorious hunters, since they do not need to catch prey to feed.

On the one hand, this home life protects them from numerous diseases and adversities of the environment. On the other, when due attention is not paid to the enrichment of the environment that a feline requires to be energetic and healthy, different behavioral problems appear. You may wonder why your cat attacks you for no reason, however, all these behaviors manifested in the feline happen for a reason. These causes may be due to: feed, stress release or the need for attention.

Why do cats pull and bite legs and ankles?

Most cats that bite the ankles of their guardians show some of the 5 symptoms of boredom in cats. By spending a lot of time alone and not having an enriched environment, or not receiving the due attention of their tutors, a cat finds biting ankles the perfect opportunity to exercise their natural hunting instinct. In addition, it is important to remember that a bored or sedentary cat becomes vulnerable to a series of diseases and behavioral problems.

It may not be obvious, but when we play with our cats, we give them the opportunity to exercise their innate instincts. For example: the classic game of the wand (or fishing rod) aims to mimic the movement of a bird to stimulate the cat's instinct to hunt. If we stop playing with our cats or do not provide toys and accessories for them to remain active during our absence, it is very likely that they will find an escape valve for their boredom, for example, attacking our ankles.

How To Stop My Cat From Biting My Ankles - Factors that influence this behaviour

Other causes that provoke our cats to bite our legs

Although biting ankles usually means that our cat is bored and does not have the necessary toys to exercise their instincts positively without hurting their guardians, cats can also bite for different reasons. Depending on the circumstance, a cat may bite as a sign of:

  • social interaction
  • being over-excited
  • as a demonstration of affection
  • due to poor socialization
  • as a sign of fear or distrust
  • because they feel vulnerable.

If a cat bites you gently when you feed them or play with them, they are probably showing you their love and gratitude. It is important not to reinforce this behavior and instead ignore it. This will teach your cat to express their affection in a safe and calm way, using positive reinforcement to recognize only desirable attitudes. Remember that punishing, separating or scolding are also ways to reinforce behavior, as this is still a form of attention.

To extinguish specific behavior, it must be ignored completely, only in this way will the cat, realizing it isn’t getting any response, will stop. On the other hand, if a cat is sick or feels vulnerable in a context, it may bite as a form of self-defense, to avoid possible damage to its welfare.

If you notice that your cat has symptoms of weakness, hides for a long time or is isolated, and uses the bite as a form of defense, it is very important to go to the veterinarian immediately. Some diseases can cause changes in cats behavior as pain makes them feel more vulnerable.

Because cats are the owners of a unique character, there is no exact interpretation for every sound, gesture or expression that felines use in their daily lives to express their feelings, desires and moods. Your cat is unique, so there is no previously established definition of its personality. Therefore, to interpret the meaning of the bites and the various forms of expression of your cat, it is important that you take your time to discover their character and understand their body language.

However, if you notice that your cat has become aggressive or is experiencing negative changes to its behavior, it is important to consult a veterinarian specializing in feline ethology. Together with this professional, you can figure out the cause of these alterations and establish a treatment based on specific guidelines.

What can I do to prevent my cat from biting my ankles?

Although we can understand that the act of jumping towards our ankles is instinctive and natural in our cats, the truth is that the bites in this sensitive region can be annoying and painful. Therefore, we have summarized some practical tips to try and avoid these attacks in order to generate a healthier coexistence in your home.

  • Environmental enrichment: Naturally, you have to go out to work and fulfill your responsibilities. This means that you will have to leave your cat alone at home. To avoid behavioral problems and symptoms of stress or boredom, such as attacking the ankles, it is essential to enrich their environment with toys, scrapers, shelves to climb, hiding places, and other accessories that allow your cat to remain physically and mentally stimulated during your absence.
  • Quality moments: It is fundamental that you reserve time exclusively to play and share quality moments with your cat. Even if you get home tired, remember to spend a few minutes with your animal. Without a doubt, you will not regret it.
  • Consider getting your cat a feline friend: if you think that your cat is bored of playing alone and that these episodes of boredom persist, you can consider giving him a "little brother" or "little sister". However, remember to pay attention to your cat's temperament and analyze its degree of sociability. If you consider that the presence of another individual can improve the quality of life of your feline, remember to socialize it before suddenly imposing a coexistence presence into its life.
  • Preventive medicine: as we have mentioned, some pathologies can cause stress and modify the behavior of your cat. Therefore, to keep your cat healthy and balanced, it is essential to provide adequate preventive medicine throughout their lives. Remember to make periodic visits to the veterinarian every 6 months, respect your letter of vaccination and periodic deworming and in addition offer your cat a healthy balanced diet and keep it physically and mentally stimulated.
How To Stop My Cat From Biting My Ankles -  What can I do to prevent my cat from biting my ankles?

If you want to read similar articles to How To Stop My Cat From Biting My Ankles, we recommend you visit our Behavioral problems category.

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My cat does the same thing. She will just attack the legs of anyone standing in the kitchen or living room. She will just randomly leap on them and sink her teeth in deep, it’s bad. We’ve tried playing with her with a wand toy. She doesn’t even chase it. Also she has 2 cat houses, one on a tower and a built in scratching post. She gets petted probably a dozen times a day from me, my wife, and our children. We’re seriously having to consider getting rid of her from the attacks. My wife and kids are covered with big, long, deep scars. Seriously, please, is there anything we can do, we love her.
Malinta Martin
My cat is about 2-2 1/2 of age . I can be just standing there doing dishes, laundry, ect, an he will just bit me an hard an draw blood why? I don't pet him , I just mind my own buisness, he bits anyone when ever he wants . I throw him out side. Please help don't no what else to do
Administrador AnimalWised
Hi Malinta,

Have you tried the suggestions in the article?
where did you get this photo? the cat pictured looks exactly like my cat that I rescued (same bald spots and everything, loves to bite ankles)
Tiffany Neeson
Good tips. I hope they also work for getting my cat to stop trying to bite my nose off! 😁
Administrador AnimalWised
Hi Tiffany

We hope so too!


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