There are many reasons why a cat chooses to grab your hand.
It can be that they are playing with you, they want you to stop petting them, they’re in a vulnerable position, trying to bond with you like a kitten, or they’re feeling aggressive due to being overstimulated or scared.
Cats rarely have a negative intention behind grabbing your hand, especially if they don’t exhibit any signs of aggression otherwise.
A common reason why a cat grabs your hand is that it just gets over-excited. Cats can get overly stimulated if you pet them too much or if they’ve been playing games that trigger their fighting instincts.
You can stop your cat from biting your hand if they’re in this mood by distracting them instead.
Your Cat Is in an Energetic Mood
You can tell if your cat is in an overstimulated mood by seeing if their pupils are dilated, if they’re swishing their tail around, hissing, flattening their ears, or swatting at you in an aggressive way.
If your cat is hyped up like this, then it’s not the best time to pat them, and you should direct their energies more appropriately into playing games instead.
When cats are in a wild mood, use a laser pen, string, ball, or toy mouse for them to chase and grab instead of your hand. This will help you to bond with your cat as you’re joining in with their game, and they will associate you with fun instead of their annoyance at being petted at inappropriate times.
They Need to Learn That Hands Aren’t Toys
It’s easy to fall into bad habits with cats, especially if they’re playful, as they’ll be naturally drawn towards your hands because they are intrigued by anything that moves. If your kitten or cat becomes interested in your hands as a plaything, then make sure to direct them elsewhere, to a toy that they can play with instead.
Cats that learn to play with hands and fingers will try to initiate these games whenever they are bored and could do it with other people too.
If your cat goes outside, they could shock someone who pets them by grabbing their hand when they don’t expect it!
Why Cats Grab and Then Bite Your Hand
Some cats can take it even further by biting a hand after they grab it, which can be for various reasons. Most of the time your cat will be doing the same thing with you that kittens do in their litter as they often play fight to improve their hunting skills.
Rough play like this is also a way that kittens bond with each other, but humans and cats are generally much more gentle with each other!
Play biting is often very gentle and doesn’t hurt, but it’s better to discourage it in case they get carried away.
Let your cat chew on or attack a toy instead.
Sometimes cats can bite out of aggression, but this tends to be quite painful (trust me!), and it’s accompanied by unwanted behavior that acts as a warning like hissing or growling. This is quite unusual in a friendly cat, and they would only behave this way if they genuinely felt threatened or trapped.
Always give your cat space as they tend to get worried if they are doing something and then realize they don’t have an escape route.
To Stop You Stroking Its Belly
Cat behavior can be confusing, and one of these times is when a cat rolls over and shows you their belly.
Cats roll over and show you their belly to gain your trust and get your attention. While some cats enjoy a belly rub, most won’t tolerate it for long as it puts them in a very vulnerable position.
Even a relaxed cat may grab a hand when they’re in this position, so avoid stroking them at this time or keep it to a couple of strokes maximum.
How to Avoid Your Cat Grabbing You While Petting
To make sure that your cat doesn’t grab you while you are petting them, make sure that your cat is in a relaxed mood to start with. You can tell if your cat is relaxed if its feet are tucked under its body, they’re purring, rubbing against you, and they’re kneading you with their paws.
They knead to stimulate oxytocin, which puts them in a good mood and reminds them of when they’re with their mother! If the cat is in a relaxed mood, then stroke them on their back, head, and the bottom of their chin if they are happy with it.
This avoids touching any problem areas that your cat wouldn’t enjoy and may grab your hand to stop you doing. It also means that your cat feels safe with you, and they should show relaxed body language.
If your cat looks relaxed, then it probably is, and some cats enjoy a good scratch as well as a stroke. This is important bonding time, and it will teach your cat that this is the behavior you partake in together.
A content cat is not likely to grab you, and they will treasure this time together as much as you do.
How Much Time Do Cats Like to Play
We all know that cats like to spend a lot of time sleeping and relaxing, but it’s important to get a cat’s playtime right, to avoid them getting overstimulated.
One way to do this is to break playtime up into small sections of 10-15 minutes so that your cat can enjoy playing with its toys, but it doesn’t become too over excited at the same time.
If you do this around 3 times a day with rest time in between, this will give your cat enough time to practice their hunting instincts without showing signs of aggression. It’s natural that cats use their skills to ‘hunt’ objects and things as long as it isn’t your hand!
How to Stop Your Cat Scratching When It Grabs You
Sometimes your cat will grab you, and you might end up with a scratch that can be accidental or on purpose.
If your cat has been in ‘attack mode,’ it may have had its claws out before playing with you and it hasn’t withdrawn them yet.
On some occasions it might be that your cat still is in an over excited mood and is looking for something moving to attack. This is when it’s important to distract your pet with a toy or scratching post to fight with instead.
If you are petting your cat when it scratches you, then it’s important to stop doing it as you don’t want to encourage this kind of behavior. Even if your cat scratches you by accident, it’s important to ignore them afterward to show that you don’t appreciate this habit.
Only reward positive traits in your cat so that they will learn how to interact with you in a way that you will both enjoy, like with cuddles and strokes.
How to Bond With Your Cat in a Positive Way
The main thing to remember about having a cat is that sometimes the grabbing behavior that you don’t like can be their attempt to bond with you, especially if they’re still young and used to being around other kittens.
You can bond with your cat simply by being in the same room as them as cats don’t hang out with people they don’t like!
It’s important to always respect your cat’s boundaries and let them come to you as they enjoy affection on their own terms.
Your cat will most likely demonstrate to you how they liked to be stroked by presenting parts of their body to you, like their head to be rubbed. If you sit down and wait quietly, many cats will approach out of curiosity, and even nervous ones will do this if you’re patient and give them enough time.
Treat Your Cat for Good Behavior
Giving your cat a selection of toys will show you which ones they like to play with the most, and this will give you time to bond. Feeding your cat and giving them treats (not too many though!) is another way to show your love that they will really appreciate.
Remember to Set Boundaries With Your Cat
If you set boundaries and discourage your cat from grabbing your hand as well as avoiding making them feel overstimulated or scared, then this behavior should stop.
Showing cats the positive interactions that you want to share with them will demonstrate a way to behave that will build the foundations for an affectionate relationship. It will also make it easier for your cat to be around people who are nervous around animals as they won’t do anything that they wouldn’t expect or can’t predict.