Why do cats bite ankles?

If you share a cat’s home, you’ve probably already been surprised by an ankle attack. Many guardians are concerned with this habit of their cats to observe in it a possible symptom of aggressiveness . Generally, however, a cat chasing its guardian’s ankles is simply bored and finds no other way to positively exercise its natural hunting instinct.

Wondering why cats bite their ankles? So, we invite you to continue reading this article from Animal Expert, to better understand the possible causes of this “cat attack” and to know how to avoid it so that a game does not end in an injury.

You may also be interested: Why does my cat bite me?


  1. Factors influencing this behavior
  2. Other causes that cause the cat to bite its legs
  3. What can I do to prevent my cat from biting my ankles?

Factors influencing this behavior

Although they have been “domesticated”, cats keep hunting instincts innate , as do all cats. However, unlike their wild relatives, our kittens stopped exercising their hunting skills in such a notorious way, as they don’t need to catch prey to feed.

On the one hand, this home life protects them from numerous diseases and environmental adversities, but when due attention is not paid to the environmental enrichment that a feline requires to remain healthy and balanced, different behavioral problems appear. You may wonder why your cat attacks you without reason, however, all the behaviors manifested in the feline have a cause and are carried out to achieve certain objectives: feeding, releasing stress, asking for attention …

Why do cats jump on their legs and bite?

Most cats that bite the ankles of their guardians show any of the 5 symptoms of boredom in cats . By spending a lot of time alone and not having an enriched environment , or not receiving proper attention from their guardians, a kitten can find the perfect opportunity to exercise their natural hunting instincts in their guardians’ ankles. Also, it is important to remember that a bored or sedentary cat becomes vulnerable to a number of illnesses and behavioral problems.

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

Other causes that cause the cat to bite its legs

Although the bite on the ankles usually shows the boredom of a feline that does not have the necessary toys to positively exercise its instincts without hurting its guardians, cats can bite for different reasons. Depending on the circumstance, a kitten can bite as a sign of social interaction, for being overly excited during a game, as a show of affection, for poor socialization, for fear or mistrust, for feeling vulnerable, among others.

If a cat bites you gently when you put food on it or play with it for a while, it’s probably showing its love and appreciation. It is important not to reinforce this behavior and ignore it and teach it to express its affection in a safe and calm way, using positive reinforcement to only recognize its desirable attitudes. Remember that punishing him, pushing him away or scolding him are also ways to reinforce behaviors, since if the cat is seeking our attention, it is getting it.

To extinguish a behavior , it must be completely ignored, only in this way the cat, by not receiving any response, will stop carrying it out. On the other hand, if a feline is sick or feels vulnerable in any context, it can bite as a form of self-defense, to avoid possible damage to its welfare.

If you notice that your kitten shows 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 vet quickly . Some illnesses can cause changes in your behavior, and pain makes you feel more vulnerable.

In short … Because cats own a unique character, there is no exact interpretation for every sound, gesture, or expression that cats use in their daily lives to express their feelings, desires, and moods. Your cat is a unique and singular being, for which there is no previously established definition of its personality. Therefore, to interpret the meaning of bites and the various forms of expression of your kitty, it is very important that you take your time to discover its character and stick to its body language .

However, if you perceive that your cat has become aggressive or has negative changes in its behavior, it is important to consult a veterinary specialist in feline ethology . Together with this professional, you will be able to find 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 kittens, the truth is that bites in this very sensitive region can be annoying and very painful. Therefore, we summarize some practical tips so that you can avoid these attacks from your kitten and generate a healthier coexistence in your home.

  • Environmental enrichment: surely, you have to go out to work and fulfill your responsibilities. This also means that you will have to leave your kitten alone at home. To avoid behavior problems and symptoms of stress or boredom, such as attacking the ankles, it is essential to enrich your environment with toys, scrapers, climbing racks, hiding places, and other accessories that allow you to stay physically and mentally stimulated during your absence. At the Animal Expert, we also teach you how to make 5 DIY toys or an excellent DIY homemade scratcher for your cat. They are inexpensive and fun – don’t miss out!
  • Quality moments: even if you offer many toys for your kitten to have fun on his own, it is essential that you set aside time exclusively to play with him and share quality moments. Even if you get home tired, remember to spend a few minutes with your partner. Without a doubt, you will not regret it.
  • Consider giving him a partner: If you notice that your cat is bored playing alone and the boredom episodes 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 abruptly imposing a coexistence and correctly presenting the new cat to your cat.
  • Preventive medicine: as we have mentioned, some pathologies can cause stress and modify the behavior of your kitten. Therefore, to keep your feline healthy and balanced, it is essential to provide adequate preventive medicine throughout its life. Remember to make periodic visits to the vet every 6 months, respect your vaccination letter and periodic deworming, in addition to offering you a balanced diet of excellent quality and keeping you physically and mentally stimulated.


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