Why does my cat bite when being affectionate?

By Nadine Oraby | 2020 Update

Ouch…!! did your cat just bit you? You were being nice to it and patting and snuggling, all was well, and suddenly your cat bit you. 

You must be wondering why? Well, look no further we have your answers right here in this article. 

Cats usually bite playfully and gently to show their affection. They will also behave in the said manner when they are happy and relaxed. If the face biting is painful then your cat is trying to tell you to stop what you are doing.

First and foremost, let us try and differentiate first between a bite that is because of affection or is your cat trying to tell you to stop whatever you are doing to it. 

What is an affectionate cat bite and what is an aggressive bite?

Cats are an animal of the wild. They are raised in a manner by its parents where they fight with each other and nibble on to one and other when they are playing and showing their love. The same is carried on in most cases when you adopt your cat. But every time your cat bites you, does not mean that it is showing you affection. It can bite you out of aggression or when it sees you as a threat. 

The affectionate bite

If you and your cat have been playing around for a while now, and you settle down in the chair with your cat all happy and playful, your cat would be happy and relaxed. If it is looking at you lovingly, snuggling and licking at you and that bites you playfully, that is the bite out of affection. 

It will feel like the teeth of your cat touching your skin gently and not piercing your skin or causing any kind of damage at all. This should be your sign to understand that your cat just bit you with affection and nothing else. Most people even like being bitten joyfully by their cats but some may find it annoying and irritating. 

If you want to stop your cat from biting you even if it is out of affection, then I will be giving you tips and tricks to stop this behavior ahead in the article.

The aggressive bite

Your cat is being all playful and chirpy around you and you start to pat it and rub your hands on its fur, but suddenly your cat us looking at you with anger. If it is looking at you angrily, making light hissing and growling noises, scratching you with its claws and then it bites you.

This means that this bite was to stop you from doing what you were doing to it. maybe it is not liking the way you are running your hands through its fur or is not liking the pressure of your hand. The bite will be harsher and may even scratch and pierce your skin.

The aggressive bite can damage the skin and maybe even painful so that it can immediately stop your actions. You may need to get your wound treated by a doctor and may even want to get it disinfected.

Why do cats bite affectionately? 

Once we have established the difference between an affectionate bite and an aggressive bite, let find out why the cats bite their human owners.

It is in their upbringing 

When kittens are born, they live with their parents and siblings. In a feline family, they show love to each other when they play rough and bite each other lightly here and there. Once you separate them from their feline family, they may still have their upbringing habits in them.

Hence, when they show you love and affection, they remember their upbringing and how they play rough and bite each other resulting in the love bites to their human owners. 

Psychological association 

Every living thing can associate things with feelings. Since cats grow up in the feline family, they like to live rough. Their parents and siblings biting each other while showing affection can lead the cats to associate the feeling of affection with casual biting here and again. 

If your cat is biting you slightly here and again, that may mean that it is showing you affection and nothing more. If you want your cat to stop this behavior, we have you covered in the article ahead. 

Your cat sees you as its family

When the cats grow up playing and fighting and gently biting their parents and siblings and they learn to associate this action with the feeling of affection and love it is exactly what they are doing to their human owners as well. 

There can be a very high probability of the fact that your cat sees you as its own feline family because it feels comfortable, relaxed and secured in your presence. 

Your cat needs your attention

Cats are the kind of animal that needs a lot of their owner’s attention. They will do anything and everything to get your attention. They crave attention so much that if you will ignore them or have visitors over, they may feel ignored and even get stressed out and start acting oddly.

If you have guests over at your place and you pat or snuggle your cat a little and then start ignoring it, chances are that it will gently bite you on your hand or your face, to get your attention. 

Communication 

We humans can use our tongue, speech, expressions and gestures etc to communicate our feelings and liking and dislikings regarding behavior to others. When it comes to feline families, they are unable to speak or anything.

They may purr a little if they want to communicate that how relaxed and happy they are, but if you are both having fun and cuddling together and your cat starts to softly bite you and lick you, that may be a sign of your cat telling you that it likes your attention and your way of showing love.

They want you to stop

Cats bite their human owners gently or even harshly to stop you from doing what you were doing. Every living thing has a threshold for bearing things. if you are snuggling and patting too much, your cat may get irritated and to stop you from doing it again, it will bite you. 

You need to make sure when you are going overboard with your love and when your cat wants you to stop doing it. 

Cats like to chew and nibble

Cats have a habit and a desire to chew and nibble on to things. They have special toys made for cats to chew on because they may have teeth irritation because they are growing. Cats have teeth that keep growing stronger ad bigger with their age. That is why they like to chew so much.

Hence the chewing and nibbling on a human hand maybe just out of habit, or your cat has irritation in its teeth. It will be a good idea to buy your cat some toys it can chew on or else it would not be long before your hand or face becomes its chew toy. 

They are marking their territory

Cats are very possessive in nature. They want to make sure that everyone understands its boundaries and respects its properties. They love to leave their scent on everything they feel is their property by rubbing themselves on a particular item or by doing something else.

The same way, there’s a high probability that your cat is biting you gently to mark you as their property. They want to make sure that everyone knows and understands that you and the actions belong together and that you are its property. 

How to react when a cat bites affectionately?

When your cat bites you, you must not act out of anger or disgust or get scared. This will lead your cat to get angry and chances are that it may attack you aggressively because it sees you as a threat and is scared of you. 

When a cat bites you with affection or aggressively, it is usually trying to communicate with you. You will have to see if it is liking your actions or not. If your cat stops biting you as soon as you leave it free, that definitely means that it needed to be set free.

If you stop and it bites you again, maybe it was just a way of your cat telling you to keep doing what you were doing and that it is liking your attention and your action. It may be telling you that it is relaxed and feeling comfortable and secure around you. 

How to stop your cat from biting?

When it comes to correcting a behavior be it humans or animals, one needs to understand their behaviors. If you want to stop your cat from biting out of affection you have to be able to understand your cat’s body language thoroughly and see when it is liking what you are doing or if it is getting irritated. 

1. You need to look out for the body language that says your cat is not liking all the human interaction it is getting. If your cat starts to twitch, flick its tail, its pupils start to shorten or if the ear lobes move downwards. These are usually the signs that your cat is not likin the interaction and it is getting agitated. You need to stop doing the act instantly before your cat bites you. 

2. Invite your cat towards you by calling it out or attracting it towards you. Do not run into your cat or go grab it yourself. If the cats come to you themselves they will be willing to get patted and stroked. If you go to them that means they were maybe resting or they wanted to have their alone time but you disturbed them, this revokes them and they may bite the owner. 

3. Try to reward your cat often when it behaves appropriately. When you see your cat is not biting you or is not getting angry and is behaving as you want it to, give it some rewards so that your cat can learn the difference between what is right or wrong.

4. Do not act up when your cat bites. Try to stay still and not move too quickly. Cats and other pets read our movements and quick movements may lead your cat to get agitated and bite you again.

5. Try and interact with your cat using toys. If you give them toys they will be chewing and nibbling on that and will understand that biting the owner is out of limits.

6. Another thing you need to learn about your cat is, you need to see where your cat likes to be rubbed or patted. Cats usually do not like being patted or rubbed on their stomachs or on their tails. If you see your cat is not liking your touch, respect its boundaries and stop immediately. 

7. Lastly, if you still want to keep patting and rubbing your cat, see when its patience run out. If you pat your cat 5 times it may get irritated and bite, so you need to stop patting it as soon as you do it 4 four times. See how long it likes to get cuddled or rubbed or snuggled etc so that you are not overdoing the act of love and your act is not getting angry. 

The above-mentioned tips and tricks should help you out in training your cat according to your likings. If you still feel that your cat is not getting tamed and is constantly acting up or getting too aggressive, seek the help of your vet, or an animal coach. They will help you tame your cat accordingly. 

Related questions 

Why do cats rub on the face first and then bite?

Cats rub themselves on the owner to leave their scents and mark their ownership. Once they sense their own smell they get relaxed and comfortable, resulting in biting to show it affection. 

Do cats understand what humans say?

They can clearly distinguish between the tones of humans. They can sense when the owner is being happy or angry. With the time they learn to understand a few words that the owner keeps repeating.

Can cats get jealous?

Most certainly. Just like humans the cats, rather all feline members get possessive of their territory and will get jealous if they feel someone is taking away your attention from them.

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