What Cat Love Bites Are And Arent
Dont confuse cat love bitesalso referred to as petting-induced aggressionwith the type of overly-aggressive biting associated with fear, defensiveness or acting territorially.
Cat love bites dont typically break skin. It starts off with licking, and the grooming behavior becomes more intense, and you may feel little teeth on you, explains Dr. Wailani Sung, a staff veterinarian with San Francisco SPCA.
Another clue that your cat is engaging in love biting is that other signs of aggression, such as hissing, growling and clawing, are typically absent, says Dr. Liz Stelow, Chief of Service of Clinical Behavior Service at the Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital at University of California, Davis.
The cat’s body language is usually fairly relaxed, although the cat may become slightly tense immediately prior to biting, Dr. Stelow says.
Cats Who Lick Faces May Also Be Trying To Get Their Humans To Do Something In Particular Like Feed Them
If the first thing you do in the morning is feed your cat, and your kitty wakes you up with kisses on your face, theres no question in my mind that your cat is almost certainly licking you on your face because youll wake up and refill the bowl of cat food.
And who could blame them? Im sure if I was a cat, Id use this trick myself.
Is It Normal For My Cat To Lick Me All The Time
Theres no set frequency for whats normal when it comes to your cat licking you. Every cat is different, and many will not lick humans at all. However, if your cat is licking you all the time, it could mean something is amiss. As we covered earlier, compulsive licking is often a sign of stress and anxiety. Its best to check with your vet if you have any concerns.
Why Do Cats Lick Blankets
Licking at blankets or fabric, called wool sucking, can feel very soothing to a cat. Its reminiscent of nuzzling with their mama and littermates when they were young kitties. Wool sucking can be more common in kittens who were weaned from their mothers at an early age.
If you have a wool-sucking kitty, you dont need to worry. Many cats outgrow this behavior as they mature. However, youll need to be careful that they dont tear off and swallow pieces of the blanket, which can cause choking or block their digestive system.
Dealing With Cat Licking Behavior
In cases where the cat is licking because he’s clearly unhappy, such as anxiety, it’s best to make an appointment with your veterinarian for a check-up. Stress can come from internal medical conditions you may not be aware of, and in the event where the veterinarian can rule out illness, he or she may prescribe anti-anxiety medication with an accompanying behavior modification plan to make your cat feel better. However, when it’s clear your cat is just licking you because they want to show affectionate behavior, you can choose to allow it without much concern. Some cat owners dislike the behavior, though, because a cat’s tongue is quite rough, and it can be uncomfortable.
Why Do Cats Lick You Cats Lick As A Means Of Social Bonding
The first step in answering Why do cats lick you? is knowing that kittens groom each other, and older cats who arent related but get along well also spend time grooming one another. Often, theyll get the spots that are hard for a cat to reach by themselves, such as the top of the head and inside the ears. Exchanging scents through grooming also increases the bond between a pair of cats.
Why Do Cats Lick You 7 Things To Know
Todays weird science question covers a query that many cat parents have Why do cats lick you? Kendraw says: My cat is obsessed with licking me. She will tolerate pets, but what she really wants to do when she needs attention is to lick me anywhere she can get skin. wont lick my face, thank goodness, but my arm, elbow and hand are fair game! She will literally hold me down in her paws and clean me. And its not just a few licks; she gets quite thorough about it. Ive tried bitter spray. No luck. I know its a sign of affection, but is there any way I can gently get her to stop?
So, why do cats lick you? First, lets talk about why cats lick you, and then give you some tips on how to persuade your cat that there are much more awesome options than grooming you until your skin is raw.
When Cat Licking Can Hurt And How To Get It To Stop
Heres when this otherwise normal cat behavior can become troublesome.
If your cat’s licking is frequent and compulsive, it can be a sign of nervousness or even an anxiety disorder, Wieber says. Along with licking themselves and you, your cat licking windows, plastics, and other things around the house can indicate something is wrong. Call your cat’s veterinarian to get a better idea of what’s going on and schedule an appointment.
Cat licking can also be harmful if your furry feline likes licking your head, Wieber says. Any product you use to style your hair won’t be good for your cat, and the hair itself can be long and end up forming a hairball obstruction in the cat’s digestive system. If you suspect that’s happened, head to the vet right away.
But there’s an easy way to get that to stop, Wieber says. You can wear a cap of some kind when you sleep to block your cat from accessing your head, or you can separate yourself and your cat to prevent that behavior.
You can also buy something specifically designed for your cat to lick, Wieber says, . You can spread your cat’s food on the mat, and, boom, your cat has something tasty to lick that isn’t you.
“Remove your attention. Don’t reinforce the behavior with your attention but also redirect their attention,” Wieber says.
An earlier version of this story misspelled Amelia Wieber’s name. It’s been corrected.
What Does It Mean When A Cat Licks You
Licking is a very natural behavior for cats, says Jennifer Van de Kieft, a certified feline training and behavior specialist and the owner of Cat Advocate LLC consulting company. She notes that when kittens are born, their mothers lick them for the first three weeks of life, then begin teaching them the art of self-grooming.
Beyond grooming, cats also lick as both a calming behavior and to show their affection. In these displays of affection, cats will lick each other, their humans, and even other pets, says Susan Bulanda, acertified member of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants. It is also a way to claim the object of their affection as theirs.
Or You Just Have Something Yummy On Your Skin
Still finding yourself wondering why does my cat lick me? Next time your cat licks you, take note if theres anything, well, palatable on your skin. Did you recently prepare food? Use a particular hand lotion? Exercise? Yes, even your salty sweat might taste great to your cat.
Should you let your cat lick you? Keep in mind that certain foods and beauty products contain ingredients that are toxic to cats. Its best to get in the habit of washing your hands after you prepare food, and dont let your cat lick you if youve recently applied lotion, perfume, and other skin products.
How To Stop Your Cat From Licking You
Why does it hurt when my cat licks me?
Remember those tiny tongue barbs we talked about? After a short while, the sandpaper feel of your cats tongue can become irritating to the skin, if not downright painful. If youre looking for ways to stop your cat from licking you, just keep in mind that this may be a bonding experience for your cat. Therefore, you shouldnt push your cat away aggressively or otherwise punish your cat for licking you. Instead, gently disengage from your cat and walk away. Eventually, your cat should begin to associate this disappearing act with his lickingand hopefully cease the behavior.
Excessive Licking At Certain Body Parts
Overgrooming can sometimes indicate an underlying medical concern. For example, a cat who begins licking her stomach may have a stomach issue thats causing her pain. Both Van de Kief and Bulanda recommend contacting your veterinarian if you notice your cat licking a certain area more than normal or if sudden behavior changes occur.
Should You Let Your Cat Lick You
Of course, you should if you like it. When your little friend licks you, you should be happy because it means he trusts you and feels safe with you.
Some people dislike being touched by the pet’s rough tongue. If the kitty is pushed away, it will feel offended because it did it with good intentions. To avoid hurting your cat’s feelings, act “gently” by offering it its favourite toy immediately after it tries to lick you.
You now have the definitive answer to the question, Why does my cat lick me?. Spend more time with your cat and communicate with it as often as possible.
Why Does My Cat Groom Me
If cats could talk, they could explain what theyre really doing when they lick and paw at our hair, but since cats are mysterious and tight-lipped by nature, the humans who study them can only theorize on the meaning of this behavior.
If your cat pats your head with her paws, it may feel like shes trying to brush your hair, but in most cases, shes simply kneading, says Dr. Taylor Kirby-Madden, a veterinarian at the Angell Animal Medical Center in Boston.
Cats knead by pushing their paws against a surface in a rhythmic motion. Kneading is usually a sign of a cat thats happy or seeking attention, Kirby-Madden says.
Typically, cats dont groom each other with their paws, she says. Grooming is strictly licking. If your cat licks your hair, she says, it probably means she likes you. Its an expression of affection.
If your cat has a thing for your hair, it may say something about your relationship. The closer you are to your pet, the more likely she is to fancy your tresses, says Pam Johnson-Bennett, a Nashville, Tennessee-based cat behaviorist.
The stronger the bond you have with your cat, the more likely its going to happen, Johnson-Bennett says. If cats are not comfortable being close to you because they dont feel safe, youre not going to have that.
Experts believe that these behaviors are a form of allogrooming, a social and bonding behavior that normally occurs between cats that have a friendly or familial relationship.
To Bond And Show Affection
As mentioned, grooming is the most common way through which cats express affection. It starts with mothers licking their kittens. Your cat wants to show you that affection too. Therefore, it does not matter to your cat whether it is in the middle of the night. You will get that loving at any place and at any time.
Cat Love Bites: What Do They Mean
Reviewed for accuracy on May 1, 2018 by Dr. Katie Grzyb, DVM
Youre gently petting your cat when she begins nipping at your hand, which leaves many cat owners wondering, Why is my cat biting me? These so-called cat love bites dont typically draw blood, but they happen suddenly, which leaves you wondering what caused the change in your cats behavior.
Biting owners during petting is one of the most common behavioral problems of cats, says Dr. Kelly Ballantyne, a board-certified veterinary behaviorist at the College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Illinois, Chicago.
Veterinarians weigh in on what cat love bites are, why cats engage in this behavior, and how pet parents can react appropriately when their furred family member feels the need to bite.
When To Worry: Physical Signs
A cats tongue is rough and covered in something called papillae. While handy for cleaning and smoothing over cat hair and eating textured food, excessive contact with the fur and skin could give rise to a number of issues.3 You might want to bring up your cats excessive licking habit with your veterinarian or a trusted veterinary behaviorist if you notice:
- A loss of fur from overgrooming the same spot
- More hairballs than usual
- Scabbing of skin4
Why It Sometimes Hurts When A Cat Licks You
It can sometimes hurt when a cat licks you, especially if your cat does this excessively and in the same place. This is because of special back-facing barbs on your cats tongue called papillae. These barbs are made from the same material as your cats claws, which explains why their tongue feels like sandpaper.
These barbs are important when your cat grooms themselves. The barbs help to remove dirt and debris from a cats coat. If the barbs werent sharp they would not be able to pick up this dirt and a cat would not be able to keep himself or herself as clean.
Why Do Cats Lick You Your Cats Might Be Licking You Because Of Anxiety
Sometimes, the answer to Why do cats lick you? isnt so positive, though. Some cats get so stressed that they begin licking compulsively. Cats who lick themselves bald are often trying to comfort themselves because theyre stressed. Other compulsive kitties might lick and suck on fabric, plastic or even your skin.
Your Cat May Be Nibbling Out Of Playfulness
A lot of cats seem to get play and affection tangled up quite easily.
If youre petting my cat Bjorn on his belly, there comes a point after quite a lot of strokes where he begins getting hyper and playful. Hell turn to you, teeth showing, with his paws out, try to catch your hand, possibly try to bite, and unless you stop the stroking youre almost sure to get a completely well-meaning scrape on your hand with a claw.
I can tell when he does this that the physical attention I was with him stimulated him in terms of making him feel happy and loved, then when it got to be too much, made him playful and hyper, feeling the need to attack in a fun-loving way. Its almost like he hits a boiling point after a while and once that line is crossed hes in wild-cat mode, when before he wouldve been in cuddly-sleepy mode.
Your cat may be nibbling on you for a similar reason, out of playfulness, and wanting to have fun and attack but not in any sort of way thats harmful to you, just in a way thats engaging and stimulating for him or her.
What Licking Feels Like To A Cat
Some experts believe that orphaned kittens or those weaned too early from their mothers and litter mates develop oral behaviors such as suckling and licking, and exhibit these babyish habits into adulthood. But as with so much about cats, that’s a generalization. The favorite hobby of Kelsey, a 6-year-old tabby who shares a household with her mother cat, is washing people — and Kelsey’s mother still scrubs her every day. Licking is a comforting, soothing sensation to cats, and feels like the gentle stroking of your hands petting them. If a cat licks you, she’s returning that favor: She figures, who wouldn’t enjoy being petted and assured of affection?
Why Do Cats Lick You Excessively
Cats who lick you excessively may be trying to tell you somethingtheyre concerned about you. Dr. Ochoa says that in the wild, cats will groom each other to help one another stay clean, so they dont attract larger predators.
So, what does it mean when a cat licks you a lot? Well, your kitty is demonstrating that they think of you as their kin. Just like bringing you a dead rodent because they think youre too incompetent to hunt for yourself, your cat thinks you need help learning personal grooming techniques. Dont expect to keep up with them, thoughadult cats can spend up to 50 percent of their day grooming and are instinctively driven to clean themselves. You can try gently explaining to your cat that you appreciate their efforts, but youre really not at risk of predation. However, now that you understand what it means when a cat licks you, you can appreciate their behavior for what it is: love! And maybe distract them with a feathery toy instead.
Decoding Your Cats Language
Though many people claim that cats arent as affectionate as dogs, this just isnt true. Cats are very affectionate and loving pets. While it can be a bit difficult for humans to read a cats emotions, if you know what to look for, it is easy to see that your cat loves you just as much as you love her. Though cats are more subtle about revealing their feelings than dogs, they still feel affection for their favorite humans.
Marking You As Their Territory
Cats practice territorial marking on a regular basis by activating the scent glands located in their mouths, chins, the sides of the face, and even the pads of their paws! Similar to your cat rubbing against you as a form of scent marking, he may also lick you to mark his territory.
Do cats have a favorite person? Well, that depends entirely on the catbut one way you might confirm this theory is if your cat licks you and not the other household members. Certain cat breeds are more prone to singling out a favorite person, including Russian Blues and Oriental Shorthairs.
How To Appropriately Respond To Cat Love Bites
Studying your cats body language is one of the best ways to learn how to appropriately react and prevent future occurrences. Watch for signs of discomfort, such as ears to the side or a twitching tail, and stop petting if these are seen, says Dr. Ballantyne.
Pet parents should notice if the cat biting stops when the cat is being petted with more frequency, or less, says Dr. Terri Bright, Director of Behavior Services at MSPCA-Angell in Boston. The owner should then respond appropriately before the cat bites. Thus, if the cat typically bites after five petting strokes, the owner should always stop at four strokes. They can even teach the cat that All done! means they will get a favorite toy for the cat.
Dr. Ballantyne recommends keeping petting sessions brief, pausing frequently to gauge the cats interest. I also recommend that people always invite their cat over to interact, rather than approaching and handling a sleeping or resting cat. And focus petting on areas that cats generally enjoy, such as around the ears and under the chin, and avoid petting cats on their bellies or near their tails.
Never react negatively to cat biting. The owner should never scruff, shake, spray or frighten the cat in any way; this can cause the cat to respond with true and dangerous aggression, says Dr. Bright.