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Why do cats bite each other's necks?
In the last few years the issue of cat biting has been in the media. You've probably seen the videos of cats with their necks wrapped around their owners' ankles. Some owners have had so many cat bites to the neck that the feline is completely bald and the skin on the neck is open and bleeding. Others look like they've been in a boxing match. The cat owners are furious, the cats are terrified.
I've had cat bites to the neck, too. I remember in particular a grey Persian cat who was much bigger than the other cats in the house and I used to put him on the bed beside me. He used to lie there, staring at me. One day he made up his mind to bite me and I remember he held me tightly between the shoulder blades and started twisting my neck. I screamed for the cat, "Stop it you idiot, you're breaking my neck, it hurts", but he wouldn't release his grip. I tried to fight him off, but I was too weak. The cat's teeth were sunk in, my skin was bleeding and I was beginning to go into shock. My mother came and freed me from the grip of the cat and the next day she had a little silver ring put on the spot where he had torn my skin. It was a permanent reminder that the cat had been trying to eat me.
I've had cats that have bitten me and I've had cats that have just looked at me and my neck. Sometimes when cats look at you there's a predatory gleam in their eyes. I've had other cats, like the Persian, who just look at me, staring with their yellow-green eyes, and there's no warning, no biting, no intent to injure.
What is the difference between the cat's intent when it bites, and the cat's intent when it looks? I don't know why he didn't bite me on the shoulder, but he chose to try and sink his teeth into my neck. I believe that was the intent: to sink his teeth into my neck and to do his best to tear my throat apart. But the Persian's eyes made no such attempt, and his intent seemed to be just to look at me. The reason for the difference in his intent is obvious: He was protecting his young.
The cat's instinct is to protect his young. A cat will attack if it thinks it needs to protect its young. It is this that makes the cat's bite a different intent from the cat's staring look.
But sometimes the intent is not clear. In my experience, there is a relationship between cat's intent and where the bite was directed.
A cat will bite someone it trusts. If I'm holding a cat and it trusts me, it may bite me on the forearm or hand. I can feel the cat's teeth closing over my flesh, and if I'm not careful the cat will pull its mouth away and bite me agn. If it feels its life is in danger, it may bite agn, but it will make sure the next bite is directed at where it was before. So, if I'm holding the cat in my hand, and it sees something that concerns it, it may bite me on the arm agn. It will bite me once it's assured it is going to be able to run away.
Another thing I learned is that a cat's bite will always come from the side. Why, I don't know. A cat doesn't like to be bitten at the side, so it bites more at the front. One time the cat bit my right ear and the next time I tried to pet it it jumped out of the hand and bit me in the face.
If a cat trust a new person, it will bite that person on the leg. This happens more often with a kitten than a full-grown cat, but it happens often enough. The kitten bites the new person and then runs away. If the new person tries to pick the kitten up the cat bites the new person a second time.
Cats are not interested in people, people are not interested in cats. You can play with cats, and they'll play with you for a while. Then you've got to take your time and pet the cat just right. If you pet the cat too hard, the cat will bite you. If you pet the cat too softly, the cat won't feel that you care enough to pet it. There's a right way to pet a cat and a wrong way to pet a cat.
When I was a little boy my mother decided to get a kitten. She went into the store where we got our groceries and asked the lady who was behind the counter if she had any kittens.
The lady behind the counter sd, "Sure, bring in your own."
She brought in a cardboard box of kittens. My mother took one and carried it home. She put the kitten in the kitchen, which was the only room we had, and sd, "Go hide, little baby."
The kitten sat in the kitchen all day. Mom didn't feed it. The kitten didn't eat. It just sat there.
When my mother got up from supper she went into the kitchen. The kitten was sleeping. She pulled a chr over, sat down, and started stroking the kitten.
The kitten opened its eyes, saw Mom, and closed its eyes.
"Go hide, little baby," Mom sd. "Go hide."
The kitten didn't move.
The kitten didn't move.
The kitten didn't move.
"Go hide, little baby."
The kitten jumped out of the chr, ran into the basement, and hid.
That was how we met our first cat.
_My mother, Joyce Kline, is known to all who have grown up in southern Ohio as "Mom."_
**—Kline's mother, Rosemary**
**"I DIDN'T KNOW THERE** were so many kinds of flowers," I sd.
"Oh, honey, there's lots more," Joyce sd.
I looked in the box. I don't know why I picked that box. It's the box I keep junk in. It's usually stuffed with paper. I was looking at all those beautiful flowers.
"If you look in there, you'll see all kinds of trees and all kinds of shrubs and stuff."
"You did a good job," I sd.
We didn't have any pots so Mom just took the whole box out. I sat on the porch and watched while Mom put all the things in. It made me feel important, I guess.
She put a plant in the middle of the box and it was a pretty big one. She sd, "Hurry up. The sun's going down."
I got up and she put some dirt in the plant and I added some water to it.
We went inside. I sat down on my beanbag. The beanbag was new, and I don't know where Mom got it.
Mom gave me a little red balloon. It was still blowing up.
"The balloon's still blowing up," I sd.
"Just blow it up, honey," Mom sd. "You can do it."
"I guess I can."
I blew up the balloon. Then I wanted to show Mom that I was all right. I reached up and felt my leg. It wasn't broken, was it?
She sd, "That's one of the things you get