Heres Why Your Cat Gives You Love Bites January 16 2019 82 Comments
If youre a cat butler youve probably experienced a love bite or two. Love bites usually happen in the midst of kitty cuddle time. One minute your kitty will be purring away as you pet them, the next theyre nibbling and nipping at your hands. My cat Rascal has a fondness for my chomping down on my knuckles. This odd behavior may leave many cat owners wondering, Why is my cat biting me out of nowhere?
Biting is a form of communication for cats. They can bite for more than a few reasons: fear, aggression, defensiveness, or acting territorially. But did you know that many cats give their owners gentle nibbles and nips as a display of affection? Hence the name Love Bites! Cats show their affection for us humans in several ways you just have to know what to look for.
Your Cat Is Grooming You
If you watch your cat grooming themselves, youll see that sometimes, they intersperse licking their coat with nibbling their skin. While for some cats, this can be a standard part of their grooming routine, for others, it can be a sign of a skin infection or irritation from flea bites, so make sure you know whats normal for your cat.
For cats that do regularly nibble as part of their grooming routine, theyre just doing the same to their human owners! Your cat might not realize that this can actually hurt you!
If your cat gets into the habit of biting you after giving you a cleaning lick, start gently moving your hand out of the way before they move in for a bite. You could distract them with a toy or a treat, to signal that their grooming session is over.
Never scold your cat for biting you after all, they dont necessarily understand what theyve done wrong. Remember that mutual grooming is a bonding behavior in cats. By extending the offer to you, your cat is letting you know that they consider you to be a part of their social group. By offering to lick and groom you, theyre trying to strengthen the bond between the two of you which is pretty cute!
Why Does My Cat Lick Me Then Bite Me
If youve one or more cats, then youve probably been through this situation more than once where you find yourself asking Why does my cat lick me then bite me?. Thats probably happened when your cat is sitting quietly on your lap, you are petting them and theyre licking you.Then, all of a sudden, your cat bites you!
You have no idea what just happened. Didnt they like the massage and petting you were giving them?
What is it that makes them engage in this conduct?
If your cat has a habit of this behavior and gives you her trademark love bites, the first thing you need to do is not take it personally. Your furry feline is as complex as other cats and all of them do this. I am yet to find a cat parent that has never been lovingly bitten but we cant help but think,Why does my cat lick me and then bite me?.
And thinking about it, I often wonder why does my cat bite me then lick me entirely the other way around, but ver similar behavior! They really are bizarre animals sometimes.
If this is something that your kitties do then, in the video above and the rest of this article, we discover the broader meaning behind both the licking and biting behavior in our cats and find out the specifics behind why they might bite you after licking you.
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Your Cat Ate Something Toxic
Its no secret that our cats eat things that they are not supposed to sometimes. You might look over to see one of them nibbling on inedible items or your favorite house plant. Certain things can be very toxic to our felines that we might not realize
Others can be mildly toxic, not enough to cause significant symptoms, but enough to irritate. If your cat eats something that is not agreeing with them, it might lick its lips or salivate.
If your cat presents any of these other symptoms that accompany lip licking, bring your cat to the veterinary clinic immediately.:
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.
You May Be Dealing With A Love Bite
In this scenario, your cat is probably sharing a little love bite thats preceded by a lick.
But what exactly are love bites?
According to Dr. Karen Becker, a little nip is a completely normal way of saying they love you and a common sign of affection but unfortunately your cat doesnt understand her love bites arent always pleasant for you.
These kind of cat bites are actually a normal part of how cats interact with each other. Dr. Becker goes on to explain that kitties nip each other affectionately, and their skin is tougher than ours. So its kind of like kitty kisses!
I can confirm firsthand that my cat Debbie is a big fan of love bites.
Unfortunately, her favorite spot to go for is my nose!
Ill be sitting in bed, reading a book, and winding down for the day. Debbie will stroll up, let out a little chirp, and ever so slowly give my nose a bite.
Not only does it make me a little self-conscious about my nose, but it also doesnt feel that great. But Im not sure which of us is weirdermy cat for biting my nose or me for letting it happen more than once!
Kitten Suckling What Is It
Kitten suckling can occur when cats suck on their nipples, other areas of skin and other objects. Cats might suckle on rugs, your skin tags, your ears or your fingers. Jamie Bluebell came to us as a kitten and for a very brief time, she would suckle on a skin tag on my husbands armpit. She also liked to suck on the frames of his glasses. But Jamie got over it fairly quickly, and from what we know, we think that Jamie was not orphaned as young as Norton.
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Kitten Suckling Is It A Bad Thing
About a week into our kitten Nortons life at our house, we noticed that he was suckling himself, using one of his own nipples. Hed go at it in a really focused way, and knead his paws at the same time, purring loudly. Having no experience with this, we took him to the vet, who reassured us that the behavior was nothing to worry about. She noted that the nipple was not inflamed or infected. The vet said that kittens may outgrow this kitten suckling behavior, and that sometimes kitten suckling happens when a kitten has been orphaned too young. The latter had been something I wondered about.
Still, I wanted to find out more. Would this kitten suckling behavior go away? Did it mean he was stressed or just contented? If I distracted him, would he stop?
Why Does It Hurt When My Cat Licks Me
A question directly related to, Why does my cat lick me? is Why does it hurt when my cat licks me? When it comes down to it, the answer is simple.
As we mentioned earlier, a cats tongue is covered in little spines called papillae. These papillae are made of keratin, the same substance that makes up human fingernails. Because cats are self groomers, the makeup of their tongue is strong enough to get saliva down to their skin, as well as detangle their fur, remove substances like dirt, and redistribute oils.
Therefore, when a cat licks you repeatedly rubbing their spine-covered tongue on your skin its apt to hurt a little. Its for this reason that cats tongues are often compared to sandpaper.
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Scenario #: Your Cat Is Happy But Overstimulated
Heres what it looks like: Youre giving your cat a good petting. Maybe youre petting her quickly or just focusing on one spot a little too long. Or maybe you like to live dangerously and youve gone for a belly rub. Either way, she leans in, gives your finger a lick or two, and then a nice chomp!
The Biggest Factors To Look For: What kind of body language are you seeing from your cat? Does she look loose and comfortable?
If youre not sure what to look for, Dr. Sophia Yin has an excellent poster showing you what to look for.
Why Does Your Cat Lick You The Reasons Are Actually Sweet
Often, cats like to be physically close to us. Your cat might curl up next to you on the sofa or even climb into your lap. But sometimes, cats take things a step further, and your cat might even lick your bare skin on occasion. Most cats will just give a lick or two and then stop, but this behavior might still have you puzzled. Is your cat grooming you? Trying to send a message? If youre wondering, Why does my cat lick me? youll be pleased to hear that the potential reasons behind this behavior are actually pretty sweet. Once you hear these theories, you might feel differently about your cat licking you.
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More About Cats Licking And Grooming
At some point, you may notice that your catâs tongue feels rough and prickly. That’s because it has small barbs called papillae that face backward. These barbs serve several purposes for your cat:
- Storing saliva in the scoop shapes
- Scooping water while drinkingâ
- Removing dirt from fur while licking and grooming
When licking and grooming is obsessive. Cats tend to lick places on their body that are itchy or painful. Your cat may have an injury or something bothering their skin. Signs that your catâs licking is obsessive may include frequent hairballs, bald spots, or fur loss. Too much licking can break open your catâs skin and lead to infection. If your cat licks and grooms a single spot too much, take them to the vet for a checkup.
Should I Let My Cat Lick Me
In many cases, theres no harm in letting your cat lick you a little bit every now and then. After all, kitty kisses never hurt anyone, right? Youll want to wash your hands after if your cat is licking your hands or fingers, but usually, this behavior is pretty harmless. But because cats tongues are rough, things can get uncomfortable if your cat tries to lick you too much.
There are some instances where your cats licking might become unhealthy, like if he starts licking you excessively because hes feeling stressed or bored. In these cases, youll need to distract your cat or move away from him. Often, keeping a toy beside you that you can toss to or use to play with your cat should be enough to distract him.
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The Causes Of Cat Or Kitten Suckling
The causes of kitten suckling can include being separated from mom too early. Ideally, kittens should not be weaned from mom earlier than six weeks. But according to ASPCA information online, cat or kitten suckling can also be a sign of stress, compulsive behavior, or even just happiness or contentment. Its a hard behavior to nail down.
They’re Marking Their Territory
Cats, of course, don’t use padlocks, name tags, or post-it notes to claim objects as their own. Instead, they use scent glands in their cheeks, feet, and tails to mark things with their unique smell. Your cat may mark the boundaries of their living space, a favorite scratching post, or their human companions.
“Cats lick their owners to mark them as theirs,” says Lovelia Horn, animal rescuer and owner of Every Creature Counts. “Even if the cat is not your pet, they will still mark you with their saliva, as it shows that they consider you part of their territory.”
Licking is one of the ways cats spread their scent. They may also rub their bodies against you or nuzzle you with their cheeks. Since your cat’s sense of smell is 14 times more powerful than yours, you likely won’t smell the scent they leave. But to your furry friend, you smell great because you smell like them.
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They Want Your Attention
If a cat wants to alert you to an issue, scraping their wet tongue across your skin often does the trick. Maybe they want to cuddle, or they’re letting you know it’s time to clean the litter box. Generally, though, the issue is a minor one.
“In less common cases, licking the owner could be a sign of stress,” says Coppola. In this case, a cat will typically show additional signs of stress such as:
- Refusing food
- Having accidents outside the litter box
Cats are especially likely to need comfort during times of major change, such as moving to a new house or adding a new pet to the family.
Shes Coping With Anxiety Or Stress
The comfort that comes from the act of licking can be a coping mechanism when your cat is anxious or stressed. She may be reacting to a new pet in the household, loud noises from construction nearby, or shes sensing stress in her owner. This may manifest as her licking herself, or it may be directed towards her owner. There can be other signs of stress to watch for such as your cat stops using her litter box.
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Territory Terror And Taste
Aside from a cat’s general affection for you and the urge to groom a buddy, a cat might lick you for a variety of other reasons. For starters, if your cat is regularly coming at you with its sandpaper tongue, the reason might be that it wants to mark you as its territory. And what better way to tell other cats to back off than by smearing you with a little special spit perfume?
Cats also tend to lick things they think are tasty. Cats cannot taste sweet things , but they might really like your hand lotion or the residue that breakfast left on your fingers. If you find your cat is particularly interested in a specific cosmetic product or ointment you use especially a prescription ointment like a hormone cream ask your vet whether it’s safe for them to ingest.
Some cats also lick in order to cope with stress or fear. This behavior is especially common in cats who were taken away from their mothers very early, but it can happen in any cat. If this behavior seems to worsen over time or is accompanied by nervous body language, or if they begin over grooming themselves to the point of creating bald spots, it’s a good idea to ask your vet about treatment.
There Could Be A Couple Reasons For Your Cat’s Licking Behavior
While cats dont typically smother their humans in kisses the way dogs do, you may notice your cat will lick you occasionally. And that might lead you to wonder: Why does my cat lick me?
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An Attack Or A Way Of Communicating
Cats may bite for different reasons: to assert dominance or respond to a threat, to stop unwanted attention from humans, or even as a way to communicate something more pleasant. This applies to adult cats mostly, since kittens often bite to socialize or as a way of exploring the world around them.
But here we are speaking of a very specific situation: a cat licking and biting you. Most times it is in a non-aggressive manner, which confuses most people because the cat is clearly not angry, but they dont seem to be quite happy either.
So, why do cats lick then bite?
If your cat licks then bites you out of the blue then you might be in the presence of a love bite, lucky you! This is a very common interaction with cats, especially kittens. If your cat does this they might be trying to show you affection. Even though it might not feel pleasant , it is a very normal part of cats communication.
The love bite can go both ways – it can be that your cat is showing affection or they can be asking for it. Cats are known to be very independent and do as they please, when they please – Cats call the shots. They are not antisocial, they just like to have attention when they want it. So if your cat licks then bites you, they might just be asking for a little bit of love or attention.