A cute gray tabby kitten biting a finger.
A cute gray tabby kitten biting a finger. Photography ©BubblegirlPhoto | iStock / Getty Images Plus.

Cat Love Bites — What Do They Mean and Why Do They Happen?

You’re petting your cat, your cat is purring ... and she nibbles you! Learn the difference between cat love bites and real cat bites and how to handle each.
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Cat enthusiasts are probably the most passionate demographic around. We love our cats! We wear our love, we record it, we photograph it and we share our love, wholeheartedly. While we love our cats and want our cats to love us back, sometimes we get a little too zealous in demonstrating said love to our cats. Yes, we want to cuddle and stroke them nonstop, and very often they enjoy the attention — up to a point! Cat love bites are the result of our demonstrative nature run amok. Anyone who has lived with a cat probably has a story or two about cat love bites. Let’s find out how to identify cat love bites versus real cat bites and what to do when cat love bites happen.

Cat love bites and being overstimulated

A ginger orange tabby cat biting a hand.
What are cat love bites and why do they happen? Remember: Don’t teach your cat that human fingers are toys! Photography ©g_lutsenko | iStock / Getty Images Plus.

Cat sounds can only provide insight into our cats’ emotions to a point. So, we rely on cat body language to figure out how cats feel. Ears back, low growl, thumping tail says, “Stay away from me right now.” A cat who is cornered and agitated could lash out and attack the perceived threat. Watching for escalating aggressive signals from your cat can thwart real cat bites. Real cat bites that result in puncture wounds should be addressed right away.

However, there are times when you and your cat are in the groove. You’re giving him a nice ear rub, and he’s looking at you with soft eyes, giving you that cat slow blink kiss. He might even start kneading your leg. The feeling of mutual admiration is pulsing through the air. You start rubbing his shoulders, he seems to really like that area caressed. So, you increase the pressure and lean in a little more to ramp up that purr. Then, seemingly without warning, he bites down on your hand as you’re petting him. The pain probably takes hold of you before you can realize what just happened. Cat loves bites strike again!

According to Jackson Galaxy, cat behaviorist and author, cat love bites mean your cat is over-stimulated. More precisely, Galaxy tells the Sydney Morning Herald, “It’s called petting-induced overstimulation. The hair follicle receptors in a cat can only take so much petting before it hurts.”

Cat love bites can be a behavioral holdover from kitten days

cat love bites
Cat love bites are actually a kitten-like cat behavior. Photography ©VasilevKirill | iStock / Getty Images Plus.

My Himalayan mix, named Slayer, will out of the blue come over and bite my arm — it’s more like a nip. Whether I’m on the couch or in bed, he hops up and makes this random gesture. Then he’ll plop down and expose his belly. This ritual ends with me giving him a few strokes. But not too many!

So, what’s this about? Dr. Karen Becker tells Huffington Post that it’s reminiscent of the ways cats and kittens playfully interact with each other. It’s another form of cat love bites, but it’s not a result of too much stimulation. It’s your cat just being playful and using his nonverbal communication skills to let you know he’d like some attention, now, please.

Cat love bites and play aggression in cats

Most kittens play rough. Youngsters’ play is not only a form of social bonding, it’s also preparing the litter for adulthood. Bouts of mock stalking and hunting give way to pouncing and biting. Cat love bites can occur when your kitten is playing aggressively with you, especially if your kitten doesn’t have another feline playmate.

Again, you can tell the difference between aggressive playtime and real aggression in cats by paying attention to your kitty. If he’s not growling or hissing, his excitement (not agitation), is escalating. It’s important to remember that his play drive is connected to prey drive (which historically ends with a “kill”). Dr. Jean Hofve, DVM, holistic veterinarian warns on Jackson Galaxy’s blog that playing rough with your kitten can directly cause unwanted aggression toward you when he’s an adult. Cat loves bites from kittens might be funny. Adult cat love bites might cause swelling and infection.

If you’ve inadvertently created a cat who gets a bit too mouthy with cat love bites during play, you can change that behavior. Don’t play with your cat using your hands. Instead, use a toy with a string or wand. Teach your cat to fetch. Try clicker training your cat.

What to do after a cat love bite

In his interview with the Sydney Morning Herald, Galaxy recommends watching for signs of agitation while you’re petting your cat. If his pupils start dilating, his ears pin back and his tail starts wagging, stop caressing your cat. It’s really that simple. If you don’t stop before those cat love bites happen, definitely stop as soon as you are bitten.

Then let your cat establish what he wants to do next. Sometimes, cats make a mad dash out of there. Sometimes, they want to still be near you, they just don’t want you petting them any longer. Respect your cat’s boundaries and if he stays next to you, don’t keep touching him.

The bottom line on cat love bites

Cats show their affection in a myriad of subtle ways, so always be receptive to what he’s telling you. Seemingly innocuous actions like cheek rubs, headbutting and licking are actually letting you know they love you! Whether he’s hanging around and purring or kneading your extremities raw and chirping, it’s all about the love.

So, whether they’re giving you little cat love bites out of follicle frustration or out of kitty cat playfulness, our cats are always letting us know how they feel. It’s up to us to pay attention.

Thumbnail: Photography ©BubblegirlPhoto | iStock / Getty Images Plus.

This piece was originally published on February 7, 2018.

Tell us: What prompts your cat to give you those cat love bites and how do you respond to cat love bites?

About the author

Denise LeBeau is a writer, editor and photographer with almost 20 years of experience of creating content for animal-related issues, endeavors and events. She worked at Best Friends Animal Society for 12 years where she had two columns in the Best Friends Magazine, and held multiple content creation roles including web managing editor and outreach campaign editor. Denise has been an ongoing contributor to Catster since 2014, writing for the magazine and website. The self-professed poet laureate of the pet set is currently the manager of development for an animal welfare agency, where she works with a team to create content across media platforms. She lives in Hampton Bays with her two rescue Siamese mixes – Flipper and Slayer, and her LBD (little brown dog), Zephyrella.

Read more about cat behavior on Catster.com:

98 thoughts on “Cat Love Bites — What Do They Mean and Why Do They Happen?”

  1. My cat doesn`t allow anybody to come in my house,anyone who come he start fighting and beating them really bad. Only one person he accepted and i dont know why. But everytime was very angry with anyone entry in the house :(

  2. Reasons Why Your Cat Bites (And How to Put a Stop to It)
    As a pet parent, you have probably taken a few tips from your cat. And, as much as you would like to refer to them as nibbles or nothings, you cannot deny that they often do hurt. A lot!

    You have probably spoken to other kitty mamas and papas too and found they have had some similar teething issues (no pun intended). The fact that your cat might bite would probably concern you even more if you have kids at home. You want your whole family to live happily together so, you spend endless nights wondering why kitty reacts that way and how you can help.

    To begin with, why does your cat bite?

  3. If a cat bites you and breaks the skin, clean the bite IMMEDIATELY with antiseptic!! Do it a few times! This will prevent deadly infections and it works!! Keep an antiseptic handy for this purpose. I did get a bite years ago on my ankle and ignored it and within a few hours got a blood infection, needed antibiotics for over a week for blood poisoning. But with quick attention, the infection can be avoided. ACT FAST!!!!

  4. Nobody here has the name “Jesus Christ”. Your comment is a bit too dramatic and uncalled for. I say ouch all the time from simple little things that aren’t painful. It’s more like a figure of speech, not a call for help.

  5. JoAnn H Wilbur

    My cat bites fur out of other cat. No bald spots but cat doesn’t like it. When I stop him verbally, he goes for me and nips me. Not extremely hard but leaves marks and a little blood. Otherwise, he’s very affectionate. I don’t get it.

  6. My cat Sampson will do this unprovoked. He will purr and knead and if I stop rubbing him he will gently bite my hand or shirt until I start again. Sometimes if We are cuddling and I get up and walk away he will run after me and pat my pant legs to get me to stop and not leave. He’s definitely not overstimulated. But I can understand that only because I have had him for 10 years and know him and his mannerisms like the back of my hand. Cats can be aggressive and bite, overstimulated and bite but also just plainly in love with what’s going on and doesn’t want it to stop.

  7. My cat is about 4 years old, a tabby, and he bites a lot. Hard. He usually breaks skin and causes bleeding but it’s weird because he’s never angry or scared when he bites. Every time he’s bitten, he’s been cuddling against one of my family members and purring loudly, headbutting, doing cute little meows, rubbing his cheek across us, then suddenly out of nowhere he takes a big bite on your arm! Breaks skin most of the time and it really hurts. Then goes back to purring and cuddling?! Why?

  8. Hi!
    I have a orange tabby cat, he is just 7 months old. He is very loving and sweet. Recently he has started a new behavior where he will come up to me and start nestling his head into my neck and then he will lightly bite my neck..it doesn’t break skin and he’s not provoked in anyway. Wondering if there is a reason why he has this sudden interest in my neck specifically?

    1. When my cat was a kitten he would sleep on my head/neck area for the heat until he discovered my clothes hamper.

      1. Hi my 13 week kitten is hard to read. He will come up to me and likes to suckle in my neck and paddle(it’s fine but I only allow twice a day) then I can have lots of cuddles etc but on other times he will bite scratch and draw blood. I’m totally confused with his behaviour. He also follows me everywhere and will cry when he can’t see me. Can you help

        1. Allow your cat to stay with you, but pet only when he is comfortable. As it’s stated above, when your cat gets aggravated it’s important to let him go and decide what he wants to do next.

    2. Cats are very good predators, that’s their natural instinct as it is a “kill shot” per say. But in your case it sounds more like he’s being playful but still showing you what he is capable of.

    3. I have an orange tabby too and she does this to my nose!! She likes to lay in my arms and before she lays down she’ll give me a gentle little bite on my nose

  9. My c.half Siamese half Bengal femail acts like my arm is a snake…if it lays on the bed outside covers she gets huge eyes and attacks my arm..not hand. Just arm. Brings blood…sometimes sitting in my lap will do same…IV had since 6 weeks…is this what she is doing..I mean she gets huge pupils..and mean look for no reason…is this a natural protection inborne??

    1. Leslie L Large

      My cat love bites when I don’t pet him. He startles a lot of people with this action, he does it more to get your attention & to be petted. Is that even normal behavior?

    2. I believe your cat, and if it is a pure Siamese cat, they have very specific habits and part of their nature is to always be a hunter. So it does not realize your arm it’s not its prey. It cannot separate the difference if your arm is under the covers. The moment your cat draws blood oh, you need to stop and get away from the cat. You made verbally say the word no or display that you are in pain and this was not a pleasant experience. Have your eyes wide open and stare right at the cat while you’re rubbing your sore arm at a distance. So the cat sees that you are wounded. No more verbal scolding as we have learned in the last five years about how bad that is from the expert. A paragraph the best is to change your behaviors so your cat will not cause you harm or to others. A paragraph if you know the behavior that will harm or cause harm you must avoid those behaviors.

  10. I have two 4.5 year old calico cat sisters, Callie and Jenny. Callie started love biting around summer 2019. She ONLY did it on the dining room table. Whenever I am sitting or standing at the table, she would jump up on it, and meow angrily and loudly for attention. When I would reach my hand out to her, she would aggressively rub herself on my hand for about 20 seconds. And then she would bite my hand or arm… hard! If I pull my hand away from her, she would get upset and meow loudly again, and the process would repeat if I reach my hand out to her again.
    As a consequence, I would yell, “No!” and stop petting her completely until she calms down; and if that doesn’t work, I leave the room and then she stops. I don’t know why, but this ONLY happened on the dining room table.
    Recently I took up yoga, and noticed that she started doing it on the yoga mat too. So now there are two spots in the house where she feels the need to be aggressively affectionate. Anywhere else in the house she is calm and loving.
    I don’t know what to do to get her to stop this unwanted behavior. She already bit my boyfriend once on the table. I understand that she’s just trying to show her love or beg for attention, but I don’t like the aggression. Any advice? Please and thank you.

    1. Hey Alyssa–

      Cats are mysterious (and weird) creatures and of course it’s hard to tell why your Callie would be so stimulated by these two spots in your home in particular. My guess would be it’s related to how these areas are used and/or what she smells on them. Maybe the common thread is that they are 2 very high-trafficked areas for the humans in her life. She sees you eating at the table, and playing on the mat, WITHOUT HER, and hardly paying her any attention at all! She feels this is very unfair so she is dragging you into the kind of sadomasochistic playtime you have described, lol.

      Other than what you described, do you have any other ways of disciplining her/ enforcing rules? I think since you know these areas are a problem for her, it would be best for you to not allow her on the table or the mat at all, as far as you can help it. You might try spraying her with a water bottle, or using one of those “scat mat” things designed to keep pets off certain surfaces with a gentle shock.

      Otherwise, you might try communicating with her in cat language, rather than saying “No.” A well-placed hiss or yowl can really stop your cat in her tracks, I’ve learned. (At least for a while… mine are used to it now and they just kind of roll their eyes at me.) HTH!

    2. I know your question is about the biting, but why is your cat on the table? If that’s where the biting occurs then that area should be off limits. If I catch my cat on the table, I just have to look at her and say what are you doing? She gives me a look to let me know she’s been caught. Then she jumps down and takes off running. Cats are smart curious creatures. They know when they are misbehaving.

    3. Jennifer Bowen

      My Cheetoh (1/2 Bengal 1/2 Ocicat) Tadashi, is 1 & 1/2 years old. He is extremely sweet and has a wild streak. Dashi is ???? a Mama’s boy and prefers to spend much of his time with me, in his bedroom (used to be mine, but he claimed it) on my lap etc… On the rare occasion that I’m comfortable and don’t immediately move to make room for him, he will nip at whatever extremity he wants me to move. It’s never a hard bite, just a nip…followed with more nips until I either cave to his will and move the offending limb, or I hold my ground and refuse to move. When made, the second choice irritates him. He will usually stomp away like a toddler but then quickly forget and come right back to me and try again to get me to accommodate him by once again nipping. I actually think it’s very sweet and a little funny. But I’ve been a human pet to many cats in my life, and I’ve never seen this behavior before. Am I deducing correctly that Todd merely wants to lovingly but firmly get his way by nipping? Or is this a sign of a bigger issue?

    4. AVOID GETTING BITTEN AT ALL COSTS! My personal experience was I had a cat that gave me a puncture wound on one finger. 6 hours later I was in the emergency room with blood poisoning! Spent 4 days in the hospital! Cats carry a bacteria called pasteurella m. And if they inject it into your bloodstream, you get what is known as sepsoamenia/blood poisoning if untreated can cause amputation of the extremity or your death. I know this personally because it happened to me and I am allergic to penicillin so it took many days to find the right antibiotic to save by life!

      I love the cat, lulubelle, but I nearly died because I thought it was no problem to allow her to bite me randomly.

      So, if you do not want to keep your cat away from you when you do your activities or you know the cat usually bites you, then perhaps you need to start wearing oven mitts or heavy Lumberjack type of work gloves. And also keep a Medic Alert bracelet or necklace on if you are allergic to penicillin. You will know if you have been bitten and it draws blood, also known as puncture wound, and the wound May heal up within an hour, but then you will see the swelling of your veins like a snake underneath your skin. This is the blood being poisoned. And you have less than 6 hours to get to the emergency room to start an IV drip of heavy-duty antibiotics.

      Have I scared you yet? But that’s how serious it is. You must learn to change your behavior to save your life and to keep your cat.

      Perhaps if you spend time twice a day maybe 20 minutes at a time focused on the cat with play toys, such as the fishing rod type of toy and the long sticks with butterflies at the end excetera. Keeping your distance but playing with your cat prior to you doing your own activities The cat will go and let you do your thing? Also I have taught my cat, or rather she taught me, how to play Paper baseball and paper soccer. Just roll up scratch pieces of paper, little tiny ones like a ping pong ball, but it has to be paper so they can chew on it and tear it apart, and toss them and the cat catches it rips it apart Etc. I get a whole bucket of the paper and spent about 20 minutes playing this game almost every day. Also, I’ve learned I cannot pet my cat so I just brush her. I am gun-shy with my new cat that also gives me these cat bites if I scratch her cheeks and then suddenly she whips her head around and tries to bite me. If I go in the hospital I have no one to take care of my dog and my cat so I cannot afford for this new cat to bite me. Also with the Coronavirus…

      So I have long handle brushes that I have trained myself to use all the time instead of hand petting my cat. And the cat loves it! No harm, no blood poisoning, no foul! It’s a win-win! Good luck!

    5. Hey Alyssa
      True story, I got a puncture wound from my cat Lulu Belle. On one finger. 6 hours later I was in the emergency room and had to spend four days in the hospital. It wasn’t the bite itself it was the bacteria the cat injected in me. Cat and most large sharks carry the pathogen called pasteurella m. It causes sepsis also known as blood poisoning. It looked like a snake was under my skin. That was the blood being poisoned and was going up to my adrenal gland under my armpit. The emergency room doctor said if I came any later they would have had to amputate my arm! Also I am allergic to penicillin so they spent three days trying to find mild but tough antibiotic to save my life…
      I learned to wear protective fake leather work gloves around my cat. I cannot afford to go back into the hospital especially during coronavirus. There will be no one that will take care of my pets if I am in the hospital.

      You have to learn to change your behavior. And I trust we all know that the experts say it is wrong to verbally scold any pet nowadays. All you can do is show your cat that what they did hurt by keeping your eyes wide open and walking away. Also, do you have to use the long stick toys and not allow anyone to pet your cat but only use a cat brush. And if you know there’s certain areas that your cat will bite you then you will have to block your cat from going into those areas while you do your exercises or whatever. It is you that has to change your behavior. If you don’t want to have an amputation or be hospitalized. Also, spend at least two times a day 20 minutes minimum of playing with your cat before you do your own activities.

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  13. Jesus Christ, I’ll bet your guests don’t come back. You laugh hysterically hearing “ouch” from your guests? What are you, a psychopath? I’m just happy that you are no friend of mine…

    1. Why such a mean comment? I’m going to suggest that your comment be removed from this thread. Your words are jarring, unnecessary and totally uncalled for.

    2. sheish chill out! Didn’t they say only a nip? Regardless, to each their own. That is totaly uncalled for and unessecary!

  14. My cat bites for all the reasons mentioned PLUS hearing certain sounds from devices such as cell phone or…ipad!! Seriously. I’ve proven my theory. She gets noticably aggressive I shut device off she instantly calms down. She also doesn’t like fragrances!! Seriously.

    1. Remember cats hearing is far superior to our own and so possibly those sounds are too much for your kitty to handle. Then there is the fact that this isnt random you said yourself it’s due to noises on the iPad etc but when u shut it off kitty is fine. Perhaps as another comment suggests you kitty wants attention but that doesn’t always mean pets that could mean play. Remember play with a toy not your hands that would just exacerbate the problem. Try different things but they aren’t called love bites because they are cute ppl called them that because it happened most when they were petting their cat so they do exist but your situation is different.

    2. My cat does the exact thing. Even when I’m talking to someone at times. But, always appears that it’s the sounds from electronics that set her off. She’ll nip me on the arm or the jaw! Is never aggressively but since I’d never seen it before, I was happy to see your comment.

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  16. I don’t believe that “love bite” stuff. Why? Because those “studies” do t address when a cat bites out of nowhere…and I do mean nowhere. For example, just now, my Pepper was resting on my lap. I was holding him. That’s it. I was not petting him. I was not watching him. I was using my iPad. Out of nowhere, he bites my arm. He does this on numerous occasions. I understand, when he’s being petted, and gets overly stimulated, but when he is just being held and not touched…no. We don’t want him biting at all. We do have another cat (special needs), and she stays out of his way. We also have three dogs, two of whom are 14 years old. We need to stop him biting ASAP. He is pretty much Dr. Jykle/Mr. Hyde personality.

    1. Well my Pepperoni is a fresh butt too! I literally have to watch my back unless I know he’s napping. I could be in the bathroom doing my hair and he will come up and bite my leg and I mean hard or I’ve been in tears blood dripping! Sometimes at night I’m on the couch minding my business watching TV he comes up and bites my arm I imagine he wants to play. I know I shouldn’t yell or use a spray bottle but I’ I don’t know what else to do…

      1. Play with him with a wand toy and create a routine so he knows what times he will get played with the best time to play is before mealtime. No free feeding get home relax a little then play with kitty till he is laying on his side batting at the toy but refusing to get up lol then feed him same sequence in the morning. The more you play the less he will attack you.

      2. Play with pepperoni create a routine before you feed him (everytime you feed him) play with him using a wand toy until he is tired. The more you play with him the less he will attack you out of boredom

    2. Lol “I don’t believe in this causation because of this random thing!”

      Like saying “I don’t believe in bacteria making cheese because my milk gets moldy sometimes.”

      Different shtick, man. Just get on with your life.

    3. My cat bites for all the reasons mentioned PLUS hearing certain sounds from devices such as cell phone or…ipad!! Seriously. I’ve proven my theory. She gets noticsbly aggressice I shut device off she instantly calms down. She also doesn’t like fragrances!! Seriously.

  17. When my youngest cat ambushed my elbow when I’m lying or sitt6down , I grab his favorite toy. His favorite toy is a string on a stick with some braided colorful pipe cleaners. He used to fetch this twig when he was younger; so now I’m trying to teach him to fetch his string on a stick.????☺️

  18. Purring can mean more then that a cat is happy or contented. It can mean they are distressed in some way. They can purr when angry orI’ll. And actually their purr has healing effects to both them and humans. There have been studies done to prove the healing effects on humans and not just a psychological. A medical device to help stimulate bone growth was developed on the principle of the frequency of a cat’s purring.
    I had a male cat once that did a very odd ‘love bite’ behavior. He had never been much for love bites. When my ex-husband and I started having problems but were still together is when the ‘love bites’ started. Whenever my ex and were in bed together KitKit would get between us and he would very gently but VERY firmly bite my cheek. I would tell him to stop but have to pry his jaws apart. If my ex tried Kit would his but not let go. I had to be the one to pry him off. Then Kit would wrap all his legs around my arm. Kit demonstrated this behavior until my ex no longer lived with me. Kit never even broke the skin on my cheek, how he was able to not I don’t know.

    1. My cat and I have a morning ritual. When I get up he’s at my door and I pick him up for cuddles. While it used to be just that, aggressively, now he gnaws on my fingers until one of us is done. It’s not hard enough that it’s biting, but he puts them to the very back of his mouth and chews away. I’ve always taken it as affection but I don’t see that in this article so plainly!

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  20. My cat will come up to me while I’m sleeping and bite my elbows. Just my elbows! She doesn’t bite hard at all. She does it when she wants attention early in the morning and I’m not up yet. After I wake up, she comes up to me, and puts her nose to my mouth. It’s really cute.

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    1. What is the reason for an attack “out of the blue” ?
      Are dilated eyes always a sign of a malevolent attack ? If no pain or painful biting then that is a love attack, correct? ( she used to attack more ferociously – learned to tone it way down based on my YELL ) Thanks.

  22. Ms. Debra Thornbloom

    My 5 year old tuxedo cat, LOKI, will roll on her back and REPEAT AFTER ME, EVERY MEOW. She will meow 1st then I will, then she will She copies every sound and length of meow over and over, …and on and on sometimes up to 10 + minutes. I have wanted to record these “conversations” between us as this would get SOOOO many hits. I HAVE NEVER HAD A CAT TALK FOR SO LONG AND SO LOUD as she rolls around on her back. I know the “ELLEN” show would LOVE love this! NO ONE WOULD BELIEVE THIS UNTIL YOU HEAR AND SEE US! I have had cats all my life and never experienced anything like this! You can’t help but LOVE my LOKI

    1. My Batman and Spiderman do the same thing! I love it!

      Have you tried looking up cats meowing on youtube, played it on high and watched the reaction?? It is so cuteeee

    2. I too have a Tuxedo cat and I swear he speaks. When I say no to something he meows “why” then I explain why and he walks away after a few more “whys”. He remembers my no and then comes back and bites me on my leg and runs away. He know he did something wrong. I don’t know how to go about addressing and preventing this, it leaves open wounds.

  23. I rescued a month old kitten last week (it was 106 outside and he was all alone in the empty yard next door, mewling at the top of his poor little voice). I’ve noticed that when he gets annoyed, he’s hungry, tired, or wants to use the litter box, he’ll angry bite. When he’s cuddling on my neck, he’ll take his paws, put them *gently* on my face and nibble a little bit. It’s more gentle than his play bite and definitely softer than his annoyed bite. I’ve had lots of cats over the years but he’s the first to do this. And I don’t mind it one bit.

  24. My bf found my female Calico cat living outside/abandoned at a Dollar General Store and we have no idea HOW LONG she lived out there. She nips ALL THE TIME and SHE OBVIOUSLY does it for many different reasons because she does it at different times and different circumstances. Like she started just nipping us in the morning when our alarm was going off because either she was trying to wake us up since the alarm was going off, she didn’t like the alarm noise, or cuz she knew the alarm was going off so she wanted us to get up and feed her. Lol!! But NOW she nips me all the time out of nowhere at different times so they have to be for different reasons. Like if she has no food and when I get up and start walking and she nips my ankles, then OBVIOUSLY she wants food. And if I’m busy and she nips me then she wants attention. But WHAT when she does it and it’s neither of those??? It IS little love nips because she BARELY puts her teeth on us! She opens her mouth and barely puts her teeth on us, like JUST ENOUGH that we can BARELY feel her teeth. You can TELL she’s TRYING to not do it hard so that’s sweet, I just don’t know WHY she does it sometimes!!!! Sometimes I know why and sometimes I DON’T! ????????????

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  26. I have never been a “cat person” until I was adopted by a neighbours ginger tom. I’m convinced that he uses me as a bolt hole from his owners two daughters and is just seeking a bit of piece and quiet. In return he gives me a lot of fuss and much needed therapy. I give him a few cat treats once a day and he then either says thanks and goes about his day or settles down in my house for a fuss, a cat wash or a snooze. If he has a fuss, he loves his head and ears being rubbed but I didn’t realize until I read this article that it might be too much. If he is on his side or back he will occasionally have my hand or a finger with both front legs and close his mouth onto my digit/s. This in itself is not really a problem, it’s if he starts swiping and my hand with the claws on his back legs that scratches occur. A simple, stern NO! will curtail his gnawing and clawing and we go our separate ways for a while. I shall now bear in mind my possible over stimulation of him and be more mindful. He really is an intelligent chap and we otherwise communicate really well. For a cat that isn’t mine he knows how to tell me what he wants. He has a habit of sneaking off in the house for a nap but will always find me and lead me to the door when he’s ready to go. He is definitely teaching me how to speak cat!

    1. I love this way cool for a person who isn’t a “ cat person “ way cute love ❤️ it” thanks for sharing….

  27. My cat who I bottle fed for months is obsessed with laying around my neck and ever so gently nipping at my earlobe, it doesn’t hurt at all she barel bites, and then she starts purring in my ear and when she thumps her tail around she just wants to play.

  28. My sweet kitty, Jasmine, gives me love bites in a few different ways. My favorite is when I am sitting on the couch and she jumps up on the back of it, walks up behind me, nuzzles her face into my hair and gently bites my scalp. She’ll do it a few times and it always makes me laugh and pet her. So she knows it’s ok with me. Also if she gently bites my arm or hand, she will usually lick it afterwards…like saying “Oh I’m sorry Mom – let me kiss it and make it better!” I love her love bites and kitty kisses! They make me feel loved by her. My husband, however, just watches all this and thinks we’re both crazy, I think. He says Jasmine is a diva…and I’m thinking…yep, Mommy’s little diva! I love her to pieces.

  29. My Russian Blue is a creature of habit. He gives a love bite to my baby toe almost every night before going to bed. He’s also likes to give lick kisses and head butts. He drools and purrs when he gets pet under his chin.

    1. I have a male tuxedo and he is the most loving thing I can do anything I want and he demands me to give him the brush to brush him out and he gets on my chest when we fall asleep but he has a thing with his back legs – as soon as I start rubbing his back legs he bites me almost like a nibble on my hand , he still purrs and wants more love but the back legs set him off into a chewing and biting in a loving way so I. Don’t know if I do that if its hurting him or not

  30. Love my kitty love bites. Snickers has just recently started giving me love bites on my cheek when I wake up in the morning. She does it tenderly and sometimes 2 or 3 times. SO, I figure that is a much better way to wake up than having her zapping across the bed (and me) at full speed! She is getting older so maybe she realizes she doesn’t have to be quite so rambunscious. LOL Sometimes she will very gently touch my face with her paw first. <3

  31. Our white Scottish shorthair does this for everything… when he wants food (especially if he has to wait a bit – no patience…lol) he will nip your leg… “Hurry up”… If he wants cuddles he will nip you, present his butt and look at you to make sure you got it and cuddle him… “Hurry up” NOW… lol… he also digs out your hand (at night) from under the covers, nips it and then smooshes his entire head into your palm hard (think huge head butt) because he wants cuddles… endless source of entertainment in the summer as guests with exposed skin try to get away from him… and we laugh hysterically at the sounds of “OUCH” from them … very cute cat… has never broken the skin or bit hard… but never stops nipping us and since we find it a different but cute form of interaction we don’t try to change him… our black cat never nips but meows non-stop when he wants something… so the nipping is a welcome quiet approach… hahahah

    1. Jesus Christ, I’ll bet your guests don’t come back. You laugh hysterically hearing “ouch” from your guests? What are you, a psychopath? I’m just happy that you are no friend of mine…

  32. With regard to cat tail wagging: I find if my cats gently wave their tails even if its a full wave, they are content. The wave from an angry cat is more like a flick from side to side rather than a wave, even if the rest of the body language seems normal

    1. Stephanie-Noel Dodt

      Mine too! She is a very calm cat that rarely seems in a bad mood. She seems to wiggle the end of her tail when she is pleased. On the rare occasion that she is angry at a cat outside I will see something quite different. Her tail literally whips “THWAP”!! She does love bites but they are painless and gentle and usually followed by kisses.

    2. I just spent 3 nights and 4 days in the hospital due to my cats “love bite”

      It’s been 2 weeks. My finger is STILL swollen

      I’ve gained a new respect for my cats. I had no idea they could do this!!!!

      1. Cat scratch fever, count yourself lucky you only had that. Cat scratch fever is incredibly serious and people can lose digits, develop encephalitis and other nasty stuff.

  33. My cat Jaci comes up to my face to head bump, give me a cheek rub, and then a little very light nibble on the bridge of my nose followed by a couple of licks. There is nothing in her behavior to say she is overstimulated, just she has to give that extra display of affection.

    1. My main coon very bear will come up and gently bite the end of my nose with his eyes closed and is head my main coon bear bear will come up and gently bite the end of my nose with his eyes closed & his head down . I’m the only one in our family he does this to I love him so very much and I love his kitty bites thanks for sharing

  34. I successfully trained my cat, using applied behavior analysis and behavior modification techniques. It did not take long to extinguish this aggressive biting behavior.
    History of said cat- she was taken from mother too early, she cried for weeks calling her mom. She very conflicted with me because of this – she knew I took care of her and loved her, but she knew she wanted her real mom.
    I started taking mental notes of what triggered the behavior, and antecedent circumstances. She would be lying by my side, perfectly content, purring, curling her paws with me petting her favorite areas. Sometimes I she bit me because I pet the wrong areas, and sometimes it was just too much love for her.
    It’s as if she realized she became “too close” to me, and so, mentally, she switched to instinctual protection mode. She used rabbit-kicking along with a very aggressive bite, breaking skin.
    So when realized this behavior was about occur, I pulled my hands and arms out harm’s way, and held open palms at her level. At this point, she’s growling and really getting ready to strike. With my hands in the shape similar to a high-five, again, at her level, she backed off. This happened upwards of ten times. Soon, she able to independently stop herself and simply leave my side instead attacking. Usually, she would go to her food and eat.
    I’ve had Muppet for five wonderful years, and she hasn’t exhibited this behavior in over a year. The training doesn’t need specified amount time, only consistency, persistence, and patience with your furry loved one.

  35. I have 2 cats..a f calico & m polydactyl scottish fold…calico is more laid back & chill…but oreo when he wants attention he will bite..FOR INSTAnce one day me & my husband playn ps4 all of a sudden he got on my lap & bit my chin..it hurt for a second lol but i knew he was either sayin i love you or hey give me attention rn…if im not in the room he will come out cryn & talkn nonstop lookn for me in every room til he finds me..

  36. My cat absolutely loves attention and if im not paying attention to him or am idly petting him while doing something else, he will often bite the backs of my legs to bring my attention to him, although this is recent behavior. He’s never done it before in the past 2 and a half years that i’ve had him so it really surprised me when it first started 2-3 weeks ago.

  37. My tabby “Tigre” is a year and a half, she loves to kneed on my chest and then bend down and give little kitty bits on my chest.
    She alos buts my head and rubs my head with hers

  38. My cat’s biting often seems to fit the pattern of what the Hartz company calls “dominance” biting, and they recommend punishing.

    1. We don’t advocate punishing your cat.

      Here are more articles with suggestions on what to do if your cat is biting and how to understand WHY your cat is biting:

      1. I have a kitty, Cleo, who tends to give me these soft bites when I am going on a rant about something. Usually my kids, lol, she will come over and bite my arm softly as if she’s trying to distract me. I never heard of a cat doing this so I’m very curious. Any ideas?

        1. If I’m talking too loud or if I’m yelling or even singing loud my cat will come up to me and meow in my face. If I don’t stop or talk quieter she will paw my face softly.

          1. If I start meowing like a cat she will get in my face and meow back and paw my face lightly.

  39. out of a family of six my cat seems closest to me. She is typically very friendly but at night will often follow me back to my room batting my legs and softly biting. This has started happening fairly recently and tonight she jumped onto my bed to chase me. I moved away and she looked at me and meowed with her tail going side to side. She then followed me, ran to my arm and bit my shoulder, it didn’t hurt much and didn’t leave a mark and afterwards she settled down and was fine. I think she’s just being playful as she doesn’t seem aggressive but I’m not certain.

  40. I’ve been feeding a feral for several years. Buddy. I’m a dog guy so Buddy was something of an amusement but he certainly grew on me. And I on him. During the past year his affection for me has increased exponentially. His little bites at my arm when I’m setting down his food bowl, or when I’m standing at the kitchen sink he takes small bites at my legs, careful not to break the skin. It baffled me but I have been set at ease. He likes me. He really likes me.

  41. For several years my eight year old calico has nipped my arm to get attention when I ignore her requests for petting. She has never drawn blood; it’s always a gentle “Hey, pay attention to ME”. 2 1/2 years ago I adopted a 9 week old gray & white tabby. She and her litter-mates were delivered to my vet when they were only a few weeks old and their mother cat had gone missing.

    The first year and a half she was always at my side or in my lap. Very much a friendly, people-cat, walking up to visitors and rolling over on her back so they could stroke her tummy. She has grown out of the “Velcro” stage and become very independent. She has recently taken to nipping my arm, or whatever body part is handy, when I don’t give the attention she is craving. I wonder if she observed my calico nipping and decided it was the proper response to being ignored.

    I’ve parented many cats over the years and these two are the only ones who give me love bites when they want attention. I hope I haven’t started a trend. It can be quite annoying when I’m at my desk trying to get some work done and one of them demands attention.

  42. A wagging tail is not always a sign that the cat is getting angry. A few years ago we adopted a mother cat and two of her very young kittens. The mother cat had lived in an apartment parking lot and was somehow captured by one of the residents and taken in so she’d have a safe place to have her kittens. When the kittens were only a few days old the woman was going to put them all in a box and leave them in a park, where they most like would have been coyote dinner, but thank goodness a neighbor took them all to our vet. Anyway, the mother cat wags her tail very frequently when she’s awake. Whether she’s standing on my lap or sitting and looking out the window, her tail goes back and forth a lot like a happy dog. The kittens found it to be a great toy when they were young and we thought maybe she did it to amuse them, but she continues to wag her tail to this day.

  43. I’m having the hardest time trying to figure our 7 month kitten out! I’ve had many cats…none quite like her. Every cat is different, but she seems to wag her tail and give ‘love bites’ while enjoying attention…I think! She will sometimes just lay beside me and purr and wag her tail even when I’m not petting her or bury her little head into my hand stopping every once in awhile to bite me then back to burying her head in my hand. Sometimes she sniffs along my arm and then will just randomly bite, then back to purring and snuggling. It’s just strange and I can’t figure out if she’s wanting more attention or I’m not petting her according to ‘her guidelines’ or if she’s feeling a little uneasy or overstimulated and needs something I’m not providing. My other 11 year old cat is easy, he comes over for attention…or more like demands attention by plopping himself down on me or on top of whatever else is in front of me, and purrs and eats it all up until the flick of his tail tells me he’s had enough and he’s done. Almost like he needs his little love meter filled up and as soon as it’s full you better not touch again or you’re in for it. 5 mins later…back for more.

    I’m hoping the kitten will grow out of the bites but I find as long as I’m paying attention I can see when she starts sniffing and is about to bite and tell her ‘no bite’ and avoid some of them. But it’s a lot harder to do when I’m half asleep and she plops herself down for attention and I’m being awoken by arm bites. And here’s the weirdest part of it, it started when she would sniff my arm pits and then bite so I can’t tell if she really likes or really hates my deodorant? She’s gonna have to get used to it because it’s the only brand I can wear since I’ve got an aluminum allergy! lol

    Oh and the cats get along well and have fun playing with each other so I don’t think that’s the issue, unless she smells the other cat on me and is biting as a sort of claim or jealous thing? Cats are weird! lol

    1. If he or she is doing it after you’ve been petting him/her, it’s just a way to say I’ve had enough. Cats can very quickly go from I demand your attention right now to touch me again and I’ll eat your face. Watch for subtle changes and pretty soon you’ll get to know when that ‘switch’ has been flipped. If attacking just out of the blue for no reason at all, maybe he/she needs some playtime or other stimulation to work out some aggression? Or they could be hurting and are trying to find a way to tell you something is wrong. Best of luck!

    2. my siamese little boy of nearly a year now. bites me out of the blue
      and it really hurts sometimes even blood.
      I started to vibve him a loudd NO and a hard push away..but he still does
      my catty(half siam) who lived with me for 17 years (I ztill miss her till today) she had her esys but never ever scratched nor bite me like this little one)aldso he never likes to sleep in his own bed but in mine..although I CANNOT SLEEP anymore

      1. Hi Thea —

        These suggestions might help you sleep at night!
        Best of luck.

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