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May 30, 2012 at 11:57 AMComments: 57 Faves: 1

Why Do Some Cats Give "Love Bites?"

By Bri Luginbill More Blogs by This Author

Cats are loving creatures and show their affection in many different ways. They may rub their body or head against you while you pet them or when you walk by them. They will purr and wink at you to show they are happy (read more about this in my blog "8 Signs Your Cat is Happy"), but another way some cats show they love us are through “love bites.”

What’s A “Love Bite?"

A love bite is when a cat gently bites your hand or part of your body while they are playing or while you are petting them. It  may show they are happy or pleased with you. I once knew a cat that loved to lick people and eventually the licking turned into biting. It was her way of saying “I love you.” However, they may also be trying to tell you it's all a little too much for them.

Some cats are just more sensitive for others - especially on their lower back right before their tail. If some cats becomes overwhelmed by all the love, they may give you a gentle nip - almost just touching their teeth to you - as if to say "Okay, okay. That's enough from you!"

When Love Bites Get Too Hard

A love bite is okay when it’s soft and gentle, but when a cat bites down hard, it hurts us! If your cat has a habit of biting like this, they are probably trying to communicate something very important– they feel over-stimulated.

There may be too many stimuli in the room - possibly too many people playing with her, too many sounds, etc. Basically, your cat has reached their limit with whatever they are doing at the moment, and they need a break from playing.

One of my friend’s cats gets over stimulated when two people play with her or when I use two hands to play with her. It’s just too much for her to focus on. She either bites down hard (She’s drawn blood before!) or runs away.

Signs A Cat Is About to Bite Hard

Cats do give warning signs through their body language before they bite. The key is to recognize signs your cat is feeling overwhelmed before they get to the breaking point. Pay attention to their tail, body position and eyes:

  • Tail: A cat that’s on edge will wag their tail back and forth. They may also puff the hair out on their tail as well. This is there way of telling you they need a break from playing.
  • Body Position: As you are playing, you may feel their skin start to twitch quickly or they may begin to squirm and become tense. They are warning you that they are on the verge of a stimulation overload.
  • Eyes: Your cat’s eyes will become dilated when they are happy and playful. But if they starts moving their eyes and head towards you, then away, and back towards you, this is their way of saying “Hey, don’t you understand, I’ve had enough of this play!”

What To Do If Your Cat Has Bitten and Hurt Someone

It’s not always easy to tell if your cat is feeling overwhelmed. Hard bites may still happen. If they do, you can help them learn it’s not okay to bite this way. To discourage your cat from biting hard, tell them “No!” Then, walk away and do not give them any attention.

Make sure to do this every time they bite. It shows them that when they bite, the play stops.

It can be difficult to get cats that are used to letting us know they are done playing with a bite -  especially if they are full grown. Kittens are easier to train because they are still young and learning, but no matter what age the kitten, keep at it! You can get them to stop through this discipline, a positive attitude, and perseverance!

Remember, not all love biting is bad. Just the bites that pack a little more punch than the others. :)

Do you have a cat that gives you love bites?

Sources:

http://www.paws-and-effect.com/2011/01/23/why-is-my-cat-biting-us-when-we-pet-her/

http://cats.lovetoknow.com/Love_Bites

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57 Comments

  • I have had several cats in the past that have given love bites. Some would, as they got older, not only bite to show love but even latch on for a second or two. It was never too hard, unless it scared you and you pulled your hand away, and it always was how they showed their affection.

  • As someone that's owned many cats, I feel like the difference between a bite and "love bite" is pretty clear.

    Love bites are gentle, they aren't meant to hurt and the cat that gives one won't otherwise be showing signs of aggression - growling, hissing, dilating eyes, raising their hair or flattening their ears. We have two cats that are really sensitive - like you said, on their lower back - and will give us a little love bite if we pet them there too much. n.n

    We've also had a cat that has gave my fiance a real bite while were trying to bathe him. Otherwise, he's a very sweet cat, my favorite in fact! He just really, REALLY hates water and knows how to get out of it. :( We had no idea how bad that was at the time and my fiance waited three days to see a doctor. By the time he did, his hand had swelled to twice it's normal size and he needed surgery to remove an abscess that formed!

    Note to all you cat owners out there - cat bites, REAL cat bites, are serious!

  • I clicked on this article to see if love bites were common. This is only my second cat, and the first that has given me these bites. It happens every morning. When my alarm goes off, she comes to me and snuggles in my arm. She purrs loudly and closes her eyes. Then she will "love bite" my hand. I am never moving my hand or trying to pet her (I can't anyway since she is usually sitting on my arm). It doesn't hurt unless I move my hand out of the way. Then she latches on hard.

  • My Matilda nips my legs all the time. It doesn't generally hurt, but it startles me sometimes. It's usually a sign she wants to play. The other day she got a little too excited and drew blood. I don't think she meant to though.

  • My kitten does, in fact, give me love bites. She will sniff along my hand and/or arm like she's searching for a good spot to gently scrape her teeth on me, and then she always bumps her head against my hand for more attention.

  • You spelled their wrong. You used "there".

  • D stfu

  • My cat Brownie was a rescue cat. Such a sad story. Brownie is a total survivor. She was found in a construction site by some workers. Her mother and all siblings were deceased. Brownie was all alone but still alive. We adopted Brownie about six years ago after my friend told me her story, and we had another cat at home, who we felt needed a "sister." Brownie's sister is only one year older. At that time, Brownie was so tiny and fragile, undernourished for her estimated weight and age. Now, actually here we are. Brownie is close to 15 lbs or more, and her sister (who is very athletic), is maintaining her healthy weight of 7 lbs. My issue is that our two cats are rivals (rather than sisters which is what we hoped for). I'm thinking sibling rivalry???

  • My cat Brownie was a rescue cat. Such a sad story. Brownie is a total survivor. She was found in a construction site by some workers. Her mother and all siblings were deceased. Brownie was all alone but still alive. We adopted Brownie about six years ago after my friend told me her story, and we had another cat at home, who we felt needed a "sister." Brownie's sister is only one year older. At that time, Brownie was so tiny and fragile, undernourished for her estimated weight and age. Now, actually here we are. Brownie is close to 15 lbs or more, and her sister (who is very athletic), is maintaining her healthy weight of 7 lbs. My issue is that our two cats are rivals (rather than sisters which is what we hoped for). I'm thinking sibling rivalry???

  • Sorry, I forgot to add that Brownie came into our home one year after her sister (Silver) was here. I should probably add that Silver was the runt of her litter and came to us via Southwest Airlines a year prior to adopting our local rescue cat Brownie.

  • And only Brownie gives those "love bites." I guess that's where my question is coming from. My friend has also been asking why her rescue cats do that. She has two rescue cats. One was told to her to be a boy, but actually turned out to be a girl.

  • Got a new cat roughly 4 years ago. A tiny sweet little thing, the difference between this cat and all others I had is that she is so affectionate and cuddly. All the time. And she rarerly trust strangers, whenever I gwt visitors she don't know that well she always lies down right next to me. With me kinda as a shield towards the other persons. When I first got her, I was also in a relationship with a girl who also had one cat and a small dog. "My" cat quickly became fond of the eøder cat and started taking after him, especially the love bites :)

  • I have two Burmese same father, but one has recently started giving me light little bites. I think they are mostly for attention when he bites on the leg or foot, but laying down he will just come up and give me smaller ones, The small ones are cute but the leg ones startled me and him I yelled. But I love these cats more than anything, I'm so glad they're so good

  • I have a main coon/ bob cat mix and he is HUGE! He's just getting out of his designated 'kitten stage' and he weighs 19 lbs on a good day! He's not fat, just BIG! He's always nipped at my fingers since he was a kitten, and now when he wants attention, he jumps up on the computer desk, plops down on the key board, rolls around like he's the most adorable thing on Earth, and love bites my hand. I can't even THINK about pulled my hand away until he's done if I don't want to end up with welts all over my hand! He does, however, lick it better and continue love biting my hand if I try. He's such a goober!

  • My kitty loves to give face kisses, but she doesn't seem to understand that the human nose is very sensitive and even the gentlest love bite is quite unpleasant. Luckily I can tell when she's getting more into the "I want to nibble all over you" stage vs. the "let me bathe you" stage, so I give her my fingers to chew on instead.

  • last year I was bitten on my hand by a cat that I had recently adopted from a shelter. The bite became infected and I spent two days in the hospital on intravenous antibiotics. PLEASE if you are ever bitten by a cat wash bite immediately. If you see any signs of infection go your doctor..( it was my fault. cat had gotten outside and i was trying to bring him in) cat was showing obvious signs of aggression I ignored. and I did not clean(open and bleeding) bite thoroughly.

  • McKinzey at times jumps up on the arm of my chair and either lies down or sits. She will at times sit looking at me with her tail moving side to side rhythmically and her eyes dilated. I know she is preparing to bite either my hand or arm(not hard) and I say no and go to push her off and she protests by resisting. I have a spray bottle with water and when I grab that she usually will jump down, but later may jump up, bite then jump back down. The majority of the time she does this is if I go into my kitchen, get something to eat and "not" give her some treats from the cabinet where I keep them. While I'm in there she will sit if front of where her treats are and meow constantly and even act like I should accomodate her. I think I spoiled her because I give her treats every day. Is there any way to stop her behavior. She's 6years old.

  • My new kitten Gracie gives love bites as we are in bed at night. She head butts before she does, while purring. She insist on nipping my neck, even when I pull the covers up to my neck; nothing painful, but it disturbs my sleep. I tap her gently on her head and say 'no' but that doesn't always work. She is a rescue kitten and so tiny that I allow her to sleep with me. She is very loving otherwise and I don't want to change that. Is there anyway I could stop her behavior at night?

  • I have a cat named toughie she has an odd habit, when she wants affection she jumps into my lap and then when I pet her she likes to Love bite me. Some people say that it is a brain disorder that a cat gets and they don't know what they're doing. I think they're nothing but a bunch of quacks. She love bites me when I pet her, and when I stopped she love bites me to keep going. They are just nipples nothing hard whatsoever I think she is just very very happy to be here. So what ever the doctors and veterinarians psychologists have to say about cats I think they are all full of it. My cat has never bitten and drawn blood from me at all, minus when she jumps on me with their claws then I usually Bleed. But I know it is not intentional, you have to love your pet and I do. :-)

  • Wow. I have a cat I suspect is part bobcat as well who is also a very big boy (18 lbs). His mom was a Persian kitty, dad was a big ol' barncat. He has a habit of nipping me -- usually he finds the fattest part of my calf and very tenderly nips. It tickles! He is not aiming to hurt me, nor break the skin. It's when he's either in a very good mood, and feeling affectionate, or he wants my attention because he wants to go outside, or wants treats, or a dish of cream. He will keep doing it too, until I respond and he gets what he wants!

  • My little kitty does this and I've never had a cat do this to me before. But it's never been hard. I'll just be laying on my bed and she'll walk up and lightly bite my arm or something and then lay on my lap and start purring. I think it's pretty cute.

  • cats have some many ways of showing their love.

  • I have 3 cats, a mum (myshka) and her 2 daughters (kitty & Oren). While the daughters don't love bite me, they show other signs of love like licking and rubbing against me. Myshka will do all that and love bites my chin, she licks my chin then gently bites it.

  • I have 2 kittys...and one is a male an his name is harley he is part mainecoon and taby..color long hair.he likes to bite me on the hand or go after my feet when I walk but very loving kitty...sometimes I just say no when I have had enough.I love them both very much.

  • Cats use their teeth for everything.

  • Thank you so much for posting this article. I have a 3 month old kitten. He is so loving and sweet. He loves to lay next to me and cuddle up. Sometimes as he's falling asleep, he will take my arm/foot/etc and just sort of put his mouth against it and mash his teeth into me, but he is not biting down. I was so worried this would turn into a behavior problem. I am so glad to learn this is completely normal and nothing to worry about - thank you!!

  • http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x2qrjyk_cat-love_animals

  • I just had a kitten show up between my and my neighbors house. The poor thing was starving and had something wrong with its face, ears, nose and mouth. I assume it's about 8 weeks old. I couldn't leave it cause it needed help. But I haven't had a kitten in sooo many years. Now that he is feed and doctored he is very happy. But he gets on my chest. When he wants loving and love bites my ears, nose and mouth. It freaked me out at first, but I know think that he is just loving who he thinks is his momma. Meow Meow ( his name) now rides on the back of my 15 year old wiener dog 10 times a day for fun!!!!

  • Me and my cat share PTSD in common and we've become wonderful friends. He survived a fire, and when he first came home he was a Scardy Cat with a capital S. He would hide under the couch. But I would talk talk to him give him treats and encourage him to let me pet him. I had like a three hour conversation with him, and he just came out from under the couch and jumped up on my lap and licked my face. Ever since he has been an amazing little buddy to have with me. He follows me every where wakes me up at 3:30 am every day, purrs when I pet him. He even lets me pick,him up and hug him. He's an awesome little guy very loving, and he is prone to love biting. But he's never scratched or bit anyone with the intention to hurt. He's very forgiving. Even my daughter that picks him up and kisses him doesn't seem to bother him that much. He'll watch her play and follow her.

  • I have 4 cats. They are all super affectionate. My youngest Ebonii I got her when she was two weeks old. my friend gave her to me to bottle feed her at two weeks old because she was the runt and was not able to get enough milk. She is constantly on my lap wanting to cuddle me. She will give me super soft love bites along with winks. I tell her to give me kisses and she will. She is so sweet. She is 4 years old and is only 5 pounds and petite. She has a healthy weight for her size. My cat Hailey is going on 13. She will use her gums and suck on my finger or my hand. She closes her eyes when she does it. Mitsey is going on 13 as well. I rescued her a few months before I adopted Hailey. She is affectionate as can be with us. But to the other cats she's the Alpha. Lol. She is only 6 pounds and petite as well. Kit-Kat aka Kk always wants attention and will cry if you stop petting her. Lol. She is a white and peach Turkish Angora with beautiful blue eyes. They are all really healthy and I love them all the same. :)

  • My cat Lucky always gives me love bites on my ear when he's rubbing himself in my face, sometimes (like once a month) he goes a little too hard and I tell him to stop which he does.

  • Cats are very sweet and gentele animals. And love youe, and pike to tell you when they are happy my sister has a cuts calico baby kitten!!

  • I just adopted a 10 month old cat 2 days ago and she rubbed her face against mine the first day. She already love bites me too! So happy I rescued this sweetie!

  • My cat will jump up and wrap her arms around my neck, and give my chin, lip, or nose a bite. It hurts, but its more just like a pin prick that goes away quickly. She will also bite my chin the same way if I raise my voice at my kids. But she had never been aggressive unless my kids played with her too much or put their faces too close (she only lets me do that). I can even kiss her straight on the mouth without her getting the least bit angry. I read that's she sees me as her mother and that's why she does this. She also does it to get my attention if I am not petting her enough when she jumps onto my lap.......

  • my cat smokey dose not too hard i can barely feel it

  • over stimulation, to much patting, they are cats leave them alone, let them come to you..cats are not dogs..

  • I have a 9 mth old rescued and desexed male cat. He has all but stopped being affectionate and sitting on my lap. Instead his love bites are too hard, his scratches hurt, and he ambushes me. He often bites and clings to my feet or leg and hands.
    I lock him from the bedroom now because his love is out of control.
    I worry the over boisterous behaviour will push me away. It seems he just wants food and to hurt me.
    I might invest in a water pistol because I really want a cat, and also want to give an occasional pat and cuddle...

  • deb... just open the door and let him outside...don't let him back inside.. invest in a old 6-10 year old unwanted housecat, that you like, have met and are comfortable with. your present cat is hurting you, scaring you, call animal control , or whomever, you adopted the cat from, but get help.

  • All cats bring different personalities, and it is important to know the general cat communication tactics but also to get in tune with your cats moods. One of my cats is a lovely little calico, she is very moody, but has never bit us because we respect ger space. If she bites, it is surely meant to hurt! We also have a 3 yr old Maine Coone. This cat love-bites all the time, he is an absolute goofball and he loves to wrestle-play. He seeks us out to play constantly. We can tell the difference between play and real aggitation. Once in awhile he will get carried away (always our fault for getting him too riled up) and then we lightly bop him on the head and walk away to remind him to be gentle if he wants to play. He learns so well and when he wants to play he is more gentle, often followed by grooming and snuggles. He fake kicks and fake bites our hands/arms. Doesn't hurt at all. If you leave your hand limp, he then swtiches to licking us. This is a healthy happy cat that brings us his toys to play and cries out when we are not paying him enough attention (you would think he is neglected but trust me, he is the center of the world in this house, he is not deprived, ha ha). I grew up with dogs, so I suppose I bring some of those qualities. I pat his butt and tousle him up, but I can see he loves it. I would never treat our calico in this fashion because it clearly upsets her. We show her our affection, and she us, in different quiet gentle ways. If you take the time to get to know your cats, the bond can go so deep! It us wonderful.



  • My cat bites me normally when he is hungry and waiting for food, but I guess u could say softish

    He has literally just now bitten my hand with all four big nashees and it is the first time it hurts so much! Almost drawing blood and leaving a mark at the moment. I told him off, it's my mistake for holding the empty treat stick wrapper in my hand I guess while I sat down :(. ???

    I've just put some cream on it seems to have numbed the pain !

  • Thank you Laura, your pearls of wisdom ring true. I have got to know Scratch better, and while he's over zealous nature can be painful, I have learned how to cope and gently dissuade him. He is much loved, and simply has a very feisty nature, which makes play time great fun. I look forward to the time when he's 6 or so years of age, as he's very affectionate when he wants to be .

  • Willie is the first cats of many that has displayed this feature. When I say "of many" I take my cats seriously. All lived healthfully from 19 to 22. Anyway, Willie is extremely affection. To the point of make me feel guilty if I go to the to store. He definitely doesn't realize how sharp his teeth are. Very little, but he always draws blood. You almost wouldn't think he has attachment problems. I have to [seriously] make plans around him. It's never okay for me to stay the night at a friends house. All right, I admit, he has me hook, line and sinker.

    He sleeps on his pillow bed next to my head. I'm sure he gets up, lord knows I do, but he's always there whenever I wake up. If I sleep to late for his tummy to wait any longer for breakfast for breakfast, then he will nip me on the long and immediately make a 50 yard dash

  • boy, was that full of typos. anyway, I'm sure you got the message. At the end I did mean "he'll nip me on the leg".

  • My cat Cleo gives love bites all the time. She'll jump up anywhere I'm sitting & butt her head into my arm & bite my fingers to show me she's happy & wants attention. She's such an affectionate & spoiled kitty. I have to keep a separate hair brush on my dresser just for her because any time I brush my hair, I've just got to brush her or she'll swat at me til I do. I wouldn't trade or her sister of anything else in the world. Lol kitty love!

  • My cat will lick and then give love bites then Bite Really hard where it really hurt and I have always told her NO but does not seams to work 😕

  • I have a 9 month old kitten who is still getting the hang of love bites that aren't too hard. When they get too hard, I get him off my lap (or wherever he is laying) and ignore him for a bit. He used to bite much harder, and still does sometimes. Always a learning process. :)

  • My cat licks and then gives very Gentle Love Bites all why he purrs it is the cutest thing every you can feel the love he gives back

  • I noticed that only the two cats that I rescued give me these little bites when I pet them, but the 2 I raised since birth doesn't.

  • My cat nibbles to show affection. I've figured out it's affection because it's always coupled with other signs of affection, such as rubbing her cheek all over my hand. After having her a few years, the nibbles have actually become very comforting. Sometimes, however, when she's in the middle of an affection fest, the nibbles get a tad too hard. I give her a couple warnings "Ah, too hard! Too hard". She usually lightens up at that point, but if not, I give her a (GENTLE!) bop on the head to get her attention. Feet are off limits. She's learned that and she rarely tries to nibble my feet.rnExcept if I'm laying down and the smoke detector beeps. She'll chop down on my toes (or calves if I have shoes on) until I'm standing. I just wish she'd learn the difference between "AAAH FIRE! WE'RE ALL GONNA DIE!" and "Hey, battery is low". Trust me, no smoke detector in this house is left without good batteries. I actually encouraged the smoke detector biting, as that could come in handy someday. I'm a pretty bad cook, so she associated that beep with her human getting injured. LOL. I love my kitty

  • you spelled their rong.

  • @phoenix63704 "they're just nipples nothing hard ". Bahahaha!

  • It was just for a fleeting moment, but I met a lovely cat when I went on a visit to my local humane society. I was stroking her head and she licked my fingers and gave me love bites. I didn't really know what she was doing at that moment, but I didnt move away, because it was quite pleasant. And now that I know they were love bites I have fallen in love once again. She was so pleased she even gave me a nose kiss! And allowed me to carry her in my arms. I couldn't believe the fact that she warmed up to me so quickly, we were only together for 30 minutes (the experience was so amazing)! It's such a shame I couldn't adopt her, she was so sweet. I checked on the Humane Society's adoption page, and it seems she has been adopted, and I'm so glad to know that. ;w; good bye my cat crush. I hope she is happy in her new home.

  • I fuck cats.. all the time. Like have sex with cats. Meow.

  • My cat occasionally does this, but whether it's a love bit or a warning bite I'm not sure because as soon as it happens I draw away, if she does it again I'll leave my hand there to see what kind, that way I can apply this advice the next time, thank you!

  • kitties ♥♥♥

  • My cat goes out of his way to bite me...

  • One of my cats will come up to me for attention, and if I ignore him, he will bite me softly to get my attention; he wants to be petted. Also, he will occasionally like to head-butt me, lick my nose and then give it a nip, or lie down across my arm and groom it intensively, occasionally pausing to give it a soft munch... all the while purring intensely: love bites.rn

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