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May 30, 2012 at 11:57 AMComments: 13 Faves: 0

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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13 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

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