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Why Do Cats Bite Then Lick? What Does it Mean?
Imagine this scenario: You are spending some time with your pet cat and start to gently scratch their cheeks. Your cat is super ecstatic as this is one of their favorite things in the world. In return, your cat begins to start licking your hand just slightly. You immediately start thinking about how rough their tongue feels on your hand but think that this is how your cat is telling your thanks for all of this extra petting. Within a second your cat is biting down on that very same hand. They aren’t biting you too hard, but it is not a gentle little bite either.
Have you ever wondered why your cat does this to you? What makes them first like you and follow it up with a bite. Here is what you need to know about why your cat may lick you at first and then follow it up with a bite.
What’s Going on With Your Cat’s Behavior?
When it comes to your cat, you must keep in mind that it is impossible to have any type of conversation with them. While yes, you can talk to them and they can ‘talk’ back to you, there is no way of knowing what it is that is going through their mind. This means that instead of really knowing and understanding why your cat displays certain behaviors, it is simply going to be an educated guess on why they may be doing it. With that being said, here are some of the possible scenarios and reasons that your cat may lick you and follow that up with a nice solid bite.
Reason #1: Licking and Then Biting While Not Being Pet
Say that you are sitting on your couch doing whatever it is that you do when your cat begins approaching you. They then lick you once or twice, immediately following that with a nice little bite. You had not even tried to pet them and your cat is displaying a very calm and relaxed mood the entire time that they lick and bite you. If this happens, the factor that you will want to look for is that they are calm, happy, and appear to be relaxed while not being pet by you before they start to lick and bite.
- It May Simply be a Love Bite
Your cat may simply be sharing a nice little love bite with you that was preceded with a lick. While this may be the case, you may be wondering what exactly is a love bite anyways?
According to cat experts, your cat may give you al little nip as a way of letting you know that they love you and are very common signs of affection. This is good. The downside of love bites, however, are that your cat is not going to understand the fact that their sign of affection is not necessarily very pleasant for you.
When it comes to love bites and your cat, they are actually a very normal part of how cats and kittens will interact with each other. Kittens will nip at each other very affectionately, but keep in mind that your cat’s skin is going to be much tougher than your skin. So, when this does happen to you, you can simply consider it to be like getting cat kisses!
- They May be Grooming You
When your cat licks and then bites you while you are not petting them, there is a very good chance that they may be grooming you and helping you to get a good cleaning in. At the very same time though, it really is not that good of a cleaning, so maybe you should take that as a hint?
Cats will on occasion bite while they are in the grooming process. It normally happens if there is something caught in their fur that they are simply not able to get off with their regular grooming methods, so they may try to bite it to get the area cleaned as well. Also, they may just have an itch that they really need to scratch. If you watch while they are grooming other cats or even just themselves, you will eventually see that nibbles from time to time are actually quite common.
When it comes to deciding if your cat is simply giving you love bites or is trying to groom you, the love bites seem much more likely unless it is obvious that your cat is grooming you. If they lick you more than only a few times, it is possible that they are trying to groom you. However, if there is only one or two licks before a bite, it is more than likely a love bite.
Reason #2: Your Cat is Overstimulated but Happy
Pretend that you are giving your cat an affectionate petting. You may be petting her in just one spot or doing some quicker pets. Maybe you were feeling adventurous and have tried to give them pets on their belly. No matter how you may be petting them, they eventually lean in towards your finger, give it a couple of quick licks, and then follow that up with a nice bite! If this is the scenario, be sure to try and pay attention to the type of body language your cat is displaying. Do they look comfortable and loose?
- What Exactly is Overstimulation?
Your cat can be overstimulated while they are being pet, something that is better referred to as petting-induced aggression. Overstimulation can occur whenever the pets that your cat is getting start to switch from pleasant and enjoyable, to all of a sudden being frustrating or uncomfortable. But why do cats become overstimulated?
While as mentioned earlier there is no ‘exact’ reason why your cat may become overstimulated, they are a very sensitive animal that has a very clear threshold of when the affection has stopped being affection. Think of petting your cat like being tickled. Sometimes you can massage their entire back and it will feel great. However, as soon as you get to that one spot around your rib area, all of a sudden your massage has turned into being tickled.
This very same concept applies to cats and how they can become overstimulated so quickly. What makes this an even bigger problem though, is that your cat is not able to tell you with their words that your petting has now become uncomfortable to them. If you continue repeating the uncomfortable petting, they will eventually become frustrated with you and let you know how they feel through the only way that they can, a little bite on the hand.
So, if you do notice that your cat is starting to become uncomfortable or overwhelmed, the best thing that you can do is to simply top petting them or avoid the areas that you notice lead them to becoming overstimulated. Every cat is going to have a different threshold of how much they will be able to handle before becoming overstimulated, so you will need to pay attention to your cat in order to discover what works best for them.
It is important for you to note your cat will normally look comfortable and loose prior to becoming overstimulated, so be sure to watch their body language before any type of licking and biting may occur.
You should also always be as observant as possible when it comes to your cat’s behavior. If they are already looking tense and over stressed, it is probably a good sign that you should not pet them at that moment in time and save those pets for a little later in the day.
After your cat has licked and then bitte you, watch what they do and how they act. If your cat starts to create a distance from you by running away or hiding under some furniture, there is a very good chance that the bite was due to them being overstimulated and they were only looking to get into some space of their own without you. If this does happen, be sure that you allow your cat to have that space and try to consider what was happening right before they bit you and became overstimulated.
When you are able to pay attention to your cat and read their body language correctly, you will eventually get a better idea of how much you can pet them before they start to get overstimulated and bite you. Essentially, pay attention to your cat and you should be able to learn how much petting they can handle, and what they cannot handle.
So Why Does Your Cat Gently Bite You?
Since your cat is not able to simply tell you what is on their mind, they use gentle biting as a way to communicate with you. More likely than not it is going to be nothing more than a love bite, which is one of the many ways your cat will sow your affection. But at the very same time, it can also be your cat’s way of letting you know that they have had enough petting and don’t want anymore. This means that you will need to pay a little bit more attention to their body language in order to fully understand what it is that your cat is trying to tell you.
Why Does Your Cat Lick and Bite You, but Not Your Spouse?
This just means that your cat is playing favorites. Your cat may start licking and biting you to give you a little love bite on the hand, because they are annoyed with how you are petting them, or they may even just want to play with you and not your spouse. No matter the reason, be sure that you pay attention to how your cat is acting and you should have no problems figuring out the mood your cat is in and whether or not they would like to be left alone.
While it may not seem very easy at first, the more you do it, the easier figuring out your cat’s body language will become. And for whatever reason you simply feel as though something is not right for whatever reason at all, you can always take them in to your local veterinarian and explain to them what is going on. They will be able to give your cat an exam and rule out any potential serious conditions that cats can potentially get.