Why Do Cats Bite Then Lick You? 6 Things Every Cat Owner Should Know!

Last updated on December 12th, 2021

Isn’t it an adorable sight to see your cat lick you after the same little feline has given you a firm love bite?

These feline creatures really have peculiar behavioral patterns, don’t they? And even though I was a little disgusted at first when my kitty bit me, I can’t help but forgive her when I look at the cute face she puts up after licking me all over!

Now that it has become a common thing after raising my feline companion for almost a year, I have started learning some of the perks and weirdness associated with this cat behavior, including her body language, her habits, her eating patterns, the list is endless! Yes, she’s a drama queen!

But coming back to her habit of biting then licking humans, read on to learn the reasons behind such behavior; I mean, if your furball does that too.

The thing is, cats don’t have to be in a bad mood to bite and lick people.

Though you might be grossed out by it, there’s a very good reason for it. Cats would bite then lick you because it is a way to show affection, or it could be a sign that you are easy to tease.

Cats often bite then lick humans as a form of play. They bite to get your attention, then lick to soothe the bite because they care about you.

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Why Does My Cat Bite Then Lick Me?

cat biting hand

Cats are famous (or rather infamous) for having peculiar habits, such as kneading and clawing objects and even people, scratching walls and expensive furniture, knocking over things while attempting to jump heights, and sleeping for long hours.

And when these were not enough, another strange one had to get added to the list, I call it the “bite of affection” which involves a gentle bite lick combo to humans.

Well, indeed, my feline pet looks cute and adorable in her naughty little acts, and I can’t help but fall in love with her- over and over again!

This weirdness and unpredictability is what makes her hard to understand, and I can almost see new patterns every day.

Cat behaviors are so strange that one activity or habit can even mean two different things in two different situations.

For instance, when a cat purrs, generally, it signifies that she’s happy. But other times, it may even mean the complete opposite.

Therefore, it’s pretty difficult to realize what’s wrong with your four-legged furry friend.

Oftentimes, this is why it’s problematic and sometimes even dangerous to make any assumptions, as we can’t be 100% sure about what a cat is feeling.

For instance, let’s say your kitty is purring because she is sad or stressed about something. At that moment, the last thing she would want is her owner being aggressive towards her.

So, if you are scooting her away thinking that she’s happy because she’s purring, she may be badly needing a compassionate and gentle response from you.

The same goes for the reason why your cat is biting and licking you because there can be multiple factors, and it’s difficult to get the appropriate picture at times.

After all, you need to realize that felines, or any other pet for that matter, cannot communicate with us in human languages.

We can only try to understand them better by having a closer look at their behavioral patterns and outlandish habits.

To realize whether a cat means one thing at one time and something else at the other, the best way to know is by studying your pet’s body language.

So, Here Are 6 Reasons Why a Cat Bites then Lick You

1. She’s Giving You a Love Bite!

Yes, you heard that right! Let’s say you are sitting comfortably on a couch working on your laptop, and then your kitten comes beside you calmly. She starts giving you a combination of licks and bites, even when you are not petting her at all.

Congratulations, you are now receiving her adorable love bites! If you see your cat absolutely calm and composed while doing this, it’s a good indication that she’s being affectionate and sharing her love.

Dr. Karen Becker believes that a little lick and bite is a way cats normally say that they love you. Sadly, most owners don’t realize this because love bites are often unpleasant and even difficult to understand the meaning behind them.

Also, if you are new to cat parenting, this is a common habit between cats, more specifically kittens, when they show affection for another companion of their kind.

Dr. Becker further says that nips are a common way that cats interact with one another in their world. And since their skin is tougher than ours, it is more unpleasant than romantic for us. But for them, it’s like “kitty kisses!”

A cat’s favorite licking and biting spot can be anything, your fingers, your feet, or even your nose!

2. She’s Grooming You!

cat licking hand

Well, our drama queen is now being the beauty therapist! Imagine if parlors had cats for grooming their clients!

Some experts say that cats like to groom their owners by licking and biting in an attempt to give them a good cleaning. But why these grooming rituals?

Although it has no explanation, a cat’s grooming process includes occasional biting in between licks.

Generally, it happens when she fails to get rid of something sticking to her fur.

Now you might be wondering how a small lick or bite from a tiny little creature may ever help you clean or groom yourself! But if you’ve been a part of your cat’s world for some time now, you probably know that this kind of grooming behavior is quite common among felines.

They do this either to clean themselves or to help others with a grooming session.

Now, there’s a difference between a love bite and a “grooming bite”. If your pet is doing it repeatedly up to a few times, it may be a part of the grooming and cleaning ritual. If she does it just once, then it may be a love bite.

3. She’s in a Playful Mood

Another reason your kitten is biting and licking you is to say, “Hey, it’s Funtime. Let’s play!”

While trying to convey this, she may even grab or play around with a toy, in which case, it’s a clear and direct signal that she is in a playful mood.

Watch out for other play postures your kitty might give you, such as a lick-bite combo or fidgeting with her favorite toys.

But how can you be sure that your feline partner is calling you for play? Well, you need to pay close attention as to what exactly she does after she has given you bite and lick.

If she’s still in a jolly mood for a nice game, she would generally do small circles around the house. But if you see her hiding or looking a bit off, it may be an indication that she wants a break now!

When cats are playful, they will convey this in a non-verbal way by biting and licking. Some others may even express such feelings by pouncing on you or scratching you.

Yet others may simply resort to whining or calmly staring until you begin the play!

4. She’s Telling You, “Enough of the Physical Attention!”

I mean, just look at the diverse and unpredictable mood swings of these little furballs! At one moment, she’s dying to get your attention, and at the next, she’s literally reminding us of our limits! This is perhaps the reason for her sudden aggressive behavior.

Cats are a mixture of feelings. Their behavior and habits can be a sign of affection at one time, and at another, they might be signs of aggression.

If she gives you a gentle bite after you have petted her for a while, it means she had enough, and now she wants a break (more about this in the overstimulation section).

Generally, this bite is accompanied by a wet and warm lick, as if she’s saying, “That’s enough for now! I need a break! But I still love you!”

Sometimes, they may even want to have your attention back after you have stopped petting. But you really need to understand your pet’s mood before you try another petting session. After all, you don’t want another hard bite, do you?

5. She’s Overstimulated

ginger cat being aggressive

At times, cats are overstimulated, even though they may be happy. Let’s imagine a situation to understand overstimulation.

Suppose you are petting your cat, and it happens to be fixated at one spot for too long.

Or maybe you have decided to try a good belly rub. In either case, your cat will initially lick your finger and then decide to punish you by giving a good bite!

But what exactly is overstimulation? Overstimulation may sometimes be referred to as petting-induced aggression.

It usually results in excessive petting that your cat receives as a symbol of your care and adoration, to the point where it becomes uncomfortable or even frustrating for your furry friend.

What’s the reason behind my cat getting overstimulated? Well, cats are highly sensitive creatures, and there’s no particular scientific explanation for this kind of strange behavior.

Felines can suddenly become aggressive from too much affection, which isn’t enjoyable anymore when it crosses the “that” line.

It may be because cats feel tickled at times when you hit the right spots while being rubbed or massaged.

And they can’t even express themselves in words when they are feeling uncomfortable. So, they gradually start feeling frustrated, and the only way to communicate such feelings is by giving you bites and excessive licks.

Remember that different cat species have different threshold levels of overstimulation, which depends on how long your particular one would tolerate or enjoy your petting. Only time spent with your kitty and experience can tell what’s working for her.

Further, it’s a good habit to be observant of your cat’s behavior. If you feel she’s stressed or anxious, you must avoid petting her at that moment.

Instead, try to do things that will make her feel better. For instance, giving her some space and time to recover from the fears.

You can also pay attention to her biting and licking patterns or other behaviors like hiding under the couch or running away from you. It may signify that you have petted her enough, or rather she had enough of you!

6. She’s Stressed

Depending on the situation or the environment a cat is living in, she may be more prone to stress and aggression compared to other pets.

And such strong feelings and emotions are generally expressed through biting and licking, and the latter is surprisingly done in excess.

Your feline pet may even lick you and then bite you when anxious and stressed.

Other cat breeds, such as the Siamese, may have the habit of chewing things, even your hands when they are stressed about something.

If you feel that your pet is behaving unusually or is feeling too stressed or having anxiety issues, consult your veterinarian in your area.

Discuss the behaviors you have been noticing and mention the reasons you think may be causing the development of these peculiar habits. You can also try the following to help your feline member control her stress levels –

  • Give your pet some space.
  • Limit your guests’ visits, or at least do so in a separate guest room.
  • Avoid cat intruders
  • Ensure your pet has everything She needs, such as enough food, a litter tray, water bowls, a scratching post, etc.
  • Help them become accustomed to changes before they really happen.

Sudden routine or environmental changes also make cats anxious and stressed, probably because they fear their owners or beloved people would abandon them.

There are endless signs in a cat’s world to tell you whether she’s in a jolly good mood or otherwise. You can understand your pet better by studying her behavioral patterns to get an accurate picture of what she desires.

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