# Its snark is worth than its biteSeptember 8, 2008 5:12 PM   Subscribe

What's the PSI force of the bite of an average adult house cat?

Some googling revealed that dogs can produce bites as powerful as 200 to 450 PSI; however, none of the pages talk about how powerful a domestic cat bite is. Does anyone know how powerful a cat's jaws are?
posted by wastelands to Pets & Animals (10 answers total)

This seems like a difficult thing to measure meaningfully. I mean, what area is the force thought to be spread over? The points of the longest teeth? The roof of the mouth?
posted by jon1270 at 5:51 PM on September 8, 2008

Yeah, PSI isn't the right way to be measuring bit forces unless you have a well-defined area over which the bite is being exerted. A 2005 paper from the Proceedings of the Royal Society cited a figure of 58 newtons (about 13 pounds) at the canines; divide that by whatever area the force is being exerted over and there's your answer.
posted by Johnny Assay at 6:05 PM on September 8, 2008

I can't find any direct references, but this article notes that a cat out-bites, relative to size, a Megalodon; the Mega is estimated at around 100 tonnes with 10-20 tonnes of force behind the bite.

If you assume the average house cat is around 8 kilos, you're looking at 800 g - 1.6 kg of force at the same power:weight as a Mega.
posted by rodgerd at 6:12 PM on September 8, 2008

Just a pedantic note: in the English system of measure, "pound" is a unit of force, which is why "foot-pound" is a meaningful unit of energy. In the metric system, however, gram/kilogram/metric-tonne are units of mass. The unit of force is the Newton. By definition, a force of one newton applied to one kilogram for a distance of one meter represents an energy of one joule.

To say "1.6kg of force" is a meaningless contradiction in terms.

posted by Class Goat at 6:48 PM on September 8, 2008

(If I'm going to be pedantic I should check myself. A force of one newton applied to any mass for a distance of one meter represents an energy of one joule.)
posted by Class Goat at 6:50 PM on September 8, 2008

Love the physics of this, but for certain, a reasonable sized cat can put four puncture wounds , two up , two down, deep into the wrist tendons of a human holding it while an excited canine is in the area.
posted by Agamenticus at 7:36 PM on September 8, 2008 [3 favorites]

More anecdotal evidence: Enough pressure to bite through a pair of jeans and deep into the leg of a human (who is holding a dog that got near the cat's first litter of kittens.)
posted by qvtqht at 8:29 PM on September 8, 2008 [1 favorite]

Just a guess: the actual pressure is pretty low - if a cat's mouth was all gums, you could easily pry its open. Cats make up for in sharpness of teeth and claws and speed what much larger animals have in strength. Maybe one tenth as powerful as a large dog?
posted by iknowizbirfmark at 8:39 PM on September 8, 2008

The sharpness of it's teeth is where all the pressure comes from. If we assume a cat's canines are like 1/16th across at the business end, a pound of push would be like 250 pounds of pressure on said business end.

It's enough to break the skin if the first ten-twenty, "Hey, the sun is up and, like, my food bowl is empty!" meows don't get me out of bed.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 11:54 PM on September 8, 2008

Just a bit more anecdotal evidence: Enough pressure to bite through leather work gloves and leave puncture marks with deep bruising around them when said feline is objecting to having the olive oil he bathed in washed off.
posted by arnicae at 9:26 AM on September 9, 2008 [1 favorite]