Dreams of Biting Cats and Dogs

Have you ever had a dream of being bitten by a cat or dog? This is a very common and important type of dream that usually has the following characteristics: an animal engages with the dreamer in a focused and intense way; the dreamer is typically not terrified but there is an anxious concern that the encounter could get more dangerous; the dreamer wants to stop the encounter but the animal persists; the dreamer tries not to show fear; the animal almost always bites or threatens to bite the dreamer (most commonly on the hand or arm); the urgency of the encounter tends to ramp up, both within the dream and in subsequent dreams. What is this kind of dream trying to say?

Here’s an example, told to me recently by a 32-year-old man. He had a very similar dream of a dog encounter two months earlier, so this was his second dream in the series:

“I’m in some kind of space with a woman who has a big dog. The dog is very tall, with long light grey hair. The dog wants to interact with me, to play, with its open mouth, play-biting but not really biting, pushing on my hands and arms as I’m trying to push it away. I feel that if I don’t go along with the game and do the right thing it will escalate and it might really bite me. I feel it’s pushing me to do something I don’t want to do, and I also feel like it’s testing me somehow. But I do not want to play this game, I just want to get away. There is a risky feeling, like this could quickly get out of control. I wake up.”

As we discussed the dream there was a definite sense that the dog was trying to tell him something, or better yet–trying to get him to do something. When a dreamer is close to being able to identify with a figure in his dream but cannot quite do it I will usually ask him to ‘be the part’. So I asked this man to be the dog. “Okay…I am the dog” he said. What do you want this man to do? I asked. This is what dream dog said:

“I want this man to show me that he can handle me. Without being intimidated. I don’t want him to be frightened or intimidated. I want to test him, and force him to find a way to handle me firmly, without panicking. He needs to be calm in a difficult and tense situation and prove that he can deal with it.”

At this point the dreamer started to feel a resonant connection between the dream message and his life. The dog’s message seemed to fit well with his financial and career situation which was currently difficult and tense. So we could move on now to a response.

We started with the first level of response–the imaginal level. I asked to try standing above the dog (in his visual imagination) and give him a solid command to “sit”. But the dreamer had some resistance to doing this. “I do not want to either receive commands or give commands.” This was another very resonant moment. It felt like we were face to face with something in his nature which did not believe in being firm and commanding. I felt strongly that this is why the dream dog needed to come to him–to help him find and develop the commanding part of his nature that he wished to disown.

So I persisted. I asked him again to stand up and give the “sit” command. At first it did not sound convincing, a bit better the second time, but the third time there was that magical change that happens in fairy tales and old stories. The feeling in the scene shifted completely. The dog was now sitting and looking up at him attentively. And the man’s feeling about the dog also transformed–he no longer wanted to stop the encounter and get away from the dog. He wanted the dog to be with him now.

Now, if we step back from the scene and look at it psychodynamically, we can see that a wonderful thing is happening here. An animal ally is appearing to force the dreamer to adopt and develop a new set of behaviors. Because the dreamer is resistant to this kind of behavior for some reason the encounter is tense and threatening at first. But if the meeting is allowed to move forward then the animal’s teaching can be received and tried on, and the characteristic “positive shift” occurs. This dream type falls within the larger category of the shadow dream, in which a true part of self that has been held at arms length appears and demands to be accepted and integrated.

In my experience this type of dream is most often played out by members of the cat and dog families, usually “domestic” cats and dogs, but often wilder (and larger) members of those families. I have seen many of the big cats appear in this kind of role, as well as wolves on the canine side. But any animal or person could take the lead role here; the important thing is to recognize the pattern and feeling tone of the encounter.

Additionally, I have noticed that in women’s dreams the most common variant is being bitten by a cat. Whenever I hear such a dream I suspect that there may be an issue in the area of personal boundaries. Once the woman has connected the dream it will often refer to a need to be firmer in creating and defending her personal space against unwanted incursions, sexual and otherwise. The cat’s demand is: “practice being strong, firm, and consistent when somebody comes close to you in a way that you don’t like.”

So–whenever you come across this type of dream you can help yourself get oriented with a version of the what is this dream asking for? question– what new behavior does this animal want the dreamer to learn and adopt?

Christopher Sowton


  • Mos Reply

    Hi Chris,
    Please comment my understanding from your analyze:
    “l” was with (unknown relationship for l) who owns a 2nd-non-“l”. (All of three components are recognized by some memories). The2nd-non-“l” is distinguished by a characteristics (being tall and having long hairs). The 2nd-non-“l” wants to interact with “l”; when “l” does not want to interact and want to get ride of it, but there is a risk of loosing control by that.
    In past, l had a director that assign a manager for me. I did not like to work with him and wanted to get ride of him; when he needed me and tried to make me work with him. However, l was feeling that l may would be isolated and loose my job!
    My memory of this part of my past working life seems has a similar pattern with this dream.
    The unknown relationship between “l” and non-“l” is the source for possible loose of control.
    The non-“l” in dream can be a dominant part of body or brain itself (inner) or a problematic influencing character outside (outer side). This is what the dream conveys..

  • Mos Reply

    I do not know how to edit the previous comment. Please replace (“I” was with) by (“l” was with a non-“l”).

    • Chirstopher Sowton Reply

      Sorry Mos, I still don’t understand your question. Can you re-phrase it?

  • Mos Reply

    Hi Chris,
    I just rewrote the dream, replacing non-“I” instead of any other character except “I”; either they are symbolic or not symbolic. Then it reminded me a story with the same pattern in my previous life.
    I concentrated on relationships instead of characters (comparing relationships by relationship in similar pattern of my own story of life); and found a set of relationships known between any “I” with any other non-“I” except the relationship between “I” and the owner-of-dog-character. Then, I came to this understanding that this unknown relationship is the source of no clarity that re-creates the feeling of the “losing the control”.
    I do not known if this clears my previous phrasing? please tell me if I need to put it in more detail.

  • Tiffany Reply

    Hello Chris,
    Any opinion or insight would be appreciated… I have recurring dreams of a cat biting my left hand, but it doesn’t let go. I can feel it’s teeth sink in, and the power of its jaw clamping down. If I try to pull my hand away it clamps down harder, and it really hurts. There is no blood though. The cat’s eyes are always dilated & it never looks me in the eye either. It’s always my left hand that it locks onto also.
    Does this sound like it goes along with what you wrote about being strong, firm & consistent with someone I don’t like that gets too close?
    Thank you.

    • Chirstopher Sowton Reply

      Hi Tiffany,
      If the cat always bites you in the same place you should add to the list of possibilities that you may have some physical issue going on in that part of your body. Do you have any pain or problem in your left hand?
      Most commonly though this repeating bite dream would be pointing to a warning from your own instinctual nature that you are not heeding. The most direct way to find out more about this would be to go back into the dream and either: talk to the cat and ask it what it wants to tell you; or be the cat and have someone interview you. Some good interview questions might be: “What do you want Tiffany to know about?” “What do you want to tell Tiffany?” “What do you want Tiffany to do?” “Why do you keep biting Tiffany?” “Why on her hand?” “Why on her left hand?”
      Its also possible that the biting cat could be a depiction of an external person or situation that is causing you pain. This would be more likely if you found it very difficult to identify with the cat when you were trying to role play it.
      I hope that helps,

  • Ankita Reply

    Hi Chris
    I want to ask you about my dream …what does it mean. I have kittens as pet at my home.i saw in a dream that one of that kitten had bite me at my leg i wanted to escape and patting him lovingly to get him cool down as he was getting angry and trying to bite me but he was so angry he bite me and after then gave a very angry eyes and face expression and i was stunned to see him like this…
    i want to the meaning of this dream as i found your analysis somewhat true and related to my situation….

    • Christopher Sowton Reply

      Hi Ankita
      My response would be pretty much identical to what I have posted above for Tiffany (see Sept 23rd post)—most likely the kitten is trying to communicate something to you. But you need to consider the other possibilities too.

  • Emags Reply

    Dear Chris,
    I had a dream last night, where it happened that i was at the beach with other people i don’t recall but seems familia to me including kids. In the beach we saw two unknown animals which i feel frighten but they passby without any harm to all of us. Wehen we left i find myselve at an old house near the beach whre you can see wave ponding at wall of the house. But very strange thing happened to me there were dogs there and one started to bit me i tried to let the people around there to help but seems not to care much although i them recognised them. All the time i stayed there dogs were trying to bit me the came cat who did the same. The severe bit came where it was a time for lunch these animal bit me severely but these family seem not to care! What is the meaning?


    • Christopher Sowton Reply

      Hi there,
      There’s a lot going on in this dream. I would recommend you do a dreamwork session to handle it properly.

  • mebek disasa Reply

    i have dreamed a puppy dog came with barking and bites my left hand and tore my clothe, blooded my hand

  • Sathira Reply

    Hey chris,
    In my dream I was in this old pastry shop ! I was there to get something to eat for tea time😂 soo under a shelf there some sort of like bread(I’ve never seen it before though) and there were like 4 kittens around the jar that the bread was contained!! And thrs was two jars with same bread !! And i took peice of bread of whatever it is from the other jar (the kittens were not eating frm ,they were eating frm the other one) soo one i took it the kittens just start to attack me !! There were like 12 kittens and they were just kept biting my leg !! When i try to remove them they bit my arm too!! Then suddenly kittens were puppies and they were biting me !! After that i had a second dream i was at a friends house and thr pet cat came closer to me and started bite me (for playing) bt when i try to remove him it bit me hard (my legs and hand ) i know it sounds confusing bt ismthere something that i should worry abt ? Btw sry fr the language i’m still learning english

  • […] dream experts, like naturopath practitioner Christopher Sowtonsuggest that dreams of animals biting you can evoke feelings of a loss of control and indicate […]

  • traumdeutung Reply

    Dream interpretation of a dog bite delves into the complex symbolism surrounding these loyal creatures and their actions. From indicating a lack of control to revealing suppressed emotions, dreams of dog bites carry various meanings depending on the context and emotions involved. Exploring dream scenarios where different body parts are bitten provides deeper insight into the dreamer’s psyche and life situations. https://deuttraum.de/traumdeutung-hundebiss/

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