You’ve been there before. You’re with your beloved feline friend, and she’s happily purring away while you pet her and scratch her in all her favorite spots. Maybe you’re holding her, if she likes that. Then out of nowhere, she nips you. Not hard – she doesn’t break skin and it probably doesn’t even hurt, but you suddenly feel little teeth on you. Cat love bites are perplexing – why do cats do that?
Cat love bites are a form of communication
Kali will lightly bite both of us, but oftentimes it’s just a tiny little nip when we’re petting her and cuddling her. Sometimes, when I hold her and she’s happy and purring, she’ll put her tiny needle teeth on my shoulder. She gives me a love bite.
Cat love bites may happen because your cat is feeling over-excited or over-stimulated, but it could also be because she feels a strong bond with you. Cats don’t communicate with us the way we communicate with each other. That little nip you get in a moment of affection is her way of saying she loves you.
We’ve figured out that she uses bites to communicate any number of things, including telling us when she wants more rubbing, when she’s done, when she wants us to feed her, and when she’s just feeling frisky. Sometimes we can tell it’s because she’s getting annoyed; she’s usually also giving us other cues, like twitching the tip of her tail. This particular type of bite is caused by petting-induced aggression, which you can read more about here.
Not all cat bites are love bites, though
There’s one thing you should remember if your cat is biting you: You have to determine the cause. That means paying attention to her body language, and her purring and/or vocalizing. What does your cat do when she’s at her happiest, and how does that compare to when she’s annoyed? Cat love bites can be difficult to distinguish from other bites. However, if her bites are at all aggressive, let her go so she can calm down.
But if her behavior indicates that her little nips are, in fact, just cat love bites, and she’s not hurting you at all, then she’s saying to you, “I love you!”