Although cats are basically very good predators, cat biting is not as common as dog biting. Cats do not normally bite humans. If your cat is using your hands as prime targets for biting, the fault probably lies in your handling of the cat.
When a cat is perceived as being ‘mean’ he is actually just being a cat and behaving like one. A scared cat is likely to opt for the escape option and take flight-- such a cat who is scared of something and fleeing is best left alone. Pain, over-stimulation, and anxiety are the prime causes of redirected aggression in cats, and if you try and intervene, the cat may eventually lash out and bite you.
Cats are complex creatures, but they are basically playful creatures. However, they are almost always focused on a single object at one time based on their predatory attributes. They do not distinguish easily between the new from the old, and sometimes, the same hand that feeds may at times be perceived as a threat. That makes treating feline aggression a much more complex matter than treating aggressive dog behavior. Dog aggression is more manageable. Treating your cat to stop biting requires a much deeper understanding of feline behavior.
If your cat jumps at you and then suddenly careens off, he is not trying to attack you. He is probably indulging in play activity. The action may hurt you, but the behavior is not aggression, and should not be punished. On the other hand, you should try and redirect his energy by extending your play sessions with the cat. Make sure that you do not proffer your hands as a toy. Choose an appropriate toy and let the cat expend his energy and calm down. Do not try petting unless the cat is ready for it.
Cats usually enjoy petting, but somehow or the other, each cat has an individual tolerance level. It is most likely that once the cat has had enough, he will try to lash out at your hand and bite. Even if the biting is not with full force, it can still hurt. Such situations are brought about due to the cat’s inability to recognize the touch of a friend. A cat will usually give out specific signals through body gestures that it is time to stop. Understanding the tolerance level of your cat and deciphering the signals that he sends out (like narrowing eyes or pulled up ears) is basically your responsibility. Observe the behavior carefully and stop before it is too late.
Cats tend to redirect aggression out of fear and anxiety. Seeing another cat outside, a potential prey, or an unfamiliar shrieking noise can also give rise to aggressive behavior in cats. The cat either perceives it as a threat or is afraid or is aroused to run after a prey. Your role is to identify such triggers and to desensitize your cat to these stimuli. This is the only way that you can stop him from attacking and biting at you.
If you actually face an attack, the best course is to freeze. Avoid struggling and fighting back because it may lead to a full-blooded bite. Do not give him reason to attack you and eliminate triggers if you are able to identify them. Keenly observe his tolerance levels. Otherwise, a cat that is bent upon aggression is best left alone.