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Published: Feb 06, 2012

If you own a feline, you may be familiar with this puzzling scenario. You're giving your cat some love and attention, gently stroking it's back or head, when suddenly it lashes out and attempts to bite or scratch you. This behavior can be confusing, but it's not without reason.

According to VCA Animal Hospitals, some pet owners may think that if their cat comes over and nudges them or climbs on their lap, they are asking to be stroked. This may not always be the case - cats may want to be close to you, but not necessarily petted. Keep an eye out for subtle body language that may indicate they don't want physical attention, such as tail twitching or a flattening of the ears against the head.

There are other reasons feline companions may seem agitated by physical touching. VCA reports that cats with skin conditions, dental disease or metabolic conditions may display this type of behavior. If a pet owner is concerned that their cat is suffering from one of these issues, it's best to take the feline to a veterinary hospital where a professional can diagnose the problem.