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Why Does My Cat Bite The Brush? (Fight Response?)

If your cat is biting your brush while you attempt to groom it, you may be wondering what your cat is doing and why it persists with this…

Why does my cat bite the brush?

When a cat bites a brush it  indicates overstimulation. While cats groom each other regularly, your cat may not be comfortable with the pace, pressure, location, or the duration of the brushing. This can result in aggression and you should stop brushing or your cat may become more aggressive.

So, now you know. But, how can you prevent this from happening? What is the ideal grooming brush? What can you do if your cat just doesn’t like it? Keep reading for these answers, and much more…

How can you prevent your cat from biting the grooming brush?

Cat being groomed.

Cat being groomed.

Cats generally love the feel of a brush but they are very particular about how they like it done. The easiest way to learn how your cat likes to be brushed is to let them lead. Hold the brush out where your cat can sniff it and if they don’t automatically brush themselves against it, try putting the brush close enough to barely ouch the cat.

Most commonly your cat will push against the brush to brush themselves. Take careful note of the areas which your cat seems to like, and try lightly brushing these areas to see if the brushing is better received at this time. With a little patience, you can learn where your cat likes to be brushed in this manner.

Pay attention to the time, as well, as your cat might only like the grooming for a few minutes before they consider themselves ‘groomed’ and start to become irritated. Keep in mind, as well, that not all cats like brushes at all. While this is rare, it is possible, but you’ll only learn this through trial and error.

What is the ideal grooming brush for a cat?

A fine-toothed comb may be a bit much for sensitive cats, but some cats love them. Usually, you will have more luck with a small, soft bristled brush or a larger, somewhat padded rubber-brush, with those spaced bristles which have tiny balls at the end.

The last type of brush is a favorite with many cats, as they don’t tend to pull or snag as much as more common brushes.

Why does my cat bite when grooming?

Not all biting is bad. Some cats associate small, low-pressure ‘love bites’ with grooming. If your cat snaps out and bites in an aggressive manner, then the brush is irritating them, but a light bite may just be your cat trying to tell you something. Try lightly brushing another location or simply hold the brush in front of your cat and see how they brush against it.

Why does my cat hate brushes?

If your cat seems frightened or aggressively against being groomed then there are a few possible reasons why your cat is exhibiting this behavior. If your cat is a rescue, for instance, then they might have a bad experience with a brush and associate it with this.

Some cats simply don’t like being touched or handled very much and if that’s the case, it may be some time before your cat will warm up to it (if they ever do, some cats simply won’t tolerate a brush!).

Finally, if your cat’s fur is quite matted then the brushing might be painful, even if gently done. If this is the case, a vet may be able to help, or you may need to strategize another option from home to help get your cats fur detangled. Don’t worry, in most cases your cat can do it on their own.

They are likely waiting to tackle the task until their skin is less sensitive.

What do you do if your cat doesn’t like to be brushed?

Sometimes you have to exercise a lot of patience. You can start off with some very light brushing for up to 30 seconds, following by holding the brush out to see if your cat pushes against it. If they do, this is a signal that you may continue.

You can also break out your secret weapon – catnip. Catnip can relax your kitty and make them much more open to brushing, though your best option for getting your cat used to the brush is to take advantage of their tendency to build a daily routine.

Cats love to have a daily routine and if you watch their behavior for a few days, looking to see it, then you will definitely notice some patterns.

The best time for brushing is usually going to be after your cat eats but if your cat doesn’t like the brush, try gaining their approval by presenting the brush after a meal and letting your cat sniff it or by lightly stroking them with the brush once.

You will be able to tell right away if the attention is welcome, as your cat will either encourage you by brushing up against it or they might give you a nasty glare, indicating that it’s not a good time or that they still don’t like the brush at all.

If the small brushing sessions or the attempts to brush after meals still aren’t well-received, then you might try some different brushes to see if that helps. Finally, there are self-grooming toys available which allow your cat to simply brush themselves, and these may be used to loosen up your cats opinion on brushing or simply as an alternative if they absolutely cannot stand the brush.

How do you brush a cat who hates being touched?

Cat meowing.

Cat meowing.

Treats and a targeted approach may soften up your cat to the idea of letting you groom them with a brush. Start by getting some treats together and start building pleasant associations with the brush. Show the cat the brush in your hand and immediately give them a treat. Next, let them sniff the brush and then give them another treat.

At this point, you might attempt a light stroke or two of the cat, followed with a treat. Try a few small sessions, increasing the times slowly, and your cat might just warm up to the brush.

Scent plays an important part in your cat’s comfort levels, so you if your cat still seems fairly uncomfortable, then you might try brushing them and giving the treats in a place that your cat likes to lay down.

When your cat smells their own scent on a place, then it makes them feel more at ease, so a location they’ve already ‘marked’ may help and as the brush starts to smell more like them, this may eventually give them a more positive opinion on it, as well.

Do cats enjoy being brushed?

Most cats LOVE being brushed, though it may take them awhile to open-up to this. Grooming requires a certain level of trust, so a new cat might take a little patient prompting before they are open to receiving this from you.

The best thing to do is to gauge your cat’s mood before you start with a brushing session. Put them, or better yet, CALL them over to you to a place where you know that they are comfortable. If your cat likes to share the couch with you, for instance, then this might be a good place.

Show the cat your brush, give them a treat, and give them one stroke with the brush or even a light touch and watch their body language. If your cat seems calm and receptive to the brush, then go with it, brushing them a few times and then stopping unless your cat gives you some affectionate prompting to show that the attention is very-much welcome.

How can I protect myself from getting bitten while brushing my cat?

First off, if your cat is of the short-haired variety, you actually don’t need to brush them at all. That said, if you have a long-haired cat with matted fur or a specific scenario where your short-haired cat needs a brushing right away, there are a few things which you can do.

Long sleeves can help, so you might put on an old jacket, and some soft gloves that won’t affect your dexterity but which will provide a little protection. These can certainly help but you can take it a step further, by putting a towel gently on your cat’s neck (with the lengths hanging down on either side).

This makes it harder for your cat to bite you while you get the necessary brushing done. You can also purchase an ‘Elizabethan collar’ which performs the same function, which is simply to make it harder for your cat to bite while ensuring that their view is unobstructed so that they are more comfortable.

If you are dealing with matted fur, the brush might not even be an ideal solution. Consider sprinkling a little talcum powder on your cat’s fur and gently detangling it with your fingers. This gentle approach might just do the trick, as the brush may well be painful with tangled fur and irritated skin.

Why does my cat bit the brush handle?

If your cat likes lightly biting or chewing the brush handle while you are grooming, then this is a friendly response but one you will want to discourage. Your cat could harm their teeth by biting the hard brush-handle, so you might try putting a toy in front of them for them to chew while you groom.

This is normal behavior, as sometimes mom gives kittens ‘love bites’ while grooming and it is likely that your cat is just repeating this with you!

Lindsey Browlingdon