Cat behavior is often mysterious and illogical. Still, every cat owner has experienced cat love bites while they’re calmly petting their cat. In an instant, the purring action escalates to biting and nibbling. But what’s happening?  

In short, that’s your cat communicating with you. And we call those nips and nibbles cat love bites. But let’s dive deeper and understand more about that peculiar behavior: 

Let’s learn to understand these independent creatures better. 

What Are Cat Love Bites?

Love bites happen almost always while you’re petting your cat. After some cuddling time, your furball gradually turns to nibbles and biting. Although they don’t break your skin, it’s still somewhat painful. 

And you’d think that’s your cat playing intensely, but it’s actually how your pet communicates with you.

So why does my cat bite me gently and what does it say? Well, it’s your cat’s way of telling you that it’s done playing with you or that it’s hurting. 

Why Do Cats Love Bite?

There are several reasons why cats start biting. Usually, cats turn to bite when they:

  • Fear
  • Feel aggression
  • Show defensiveness
  • Act territorially
  • Display affection

So how to know the difference? What distinguishes cat play biting from other forms of biting? What does it mean when a cat purrs but still bites? Well, it’s all about body language.

When a cat bites with no other signs of aggression, fear, hissing, or clawing, and it’s relaxed, then that’s definitely a love bite. And it rarely breaks the skin.

Any other form of biting is the cat’s way of defending itself, and you should stop what you’re doing immediately.

An exception to these rules is kitten love bites. Those are the bites that the little one gives you because it’s still learning how to play and act. Another reason for them is teething. If that’s the case, you should consider dental treats for cats or introduce chewable toys.

Do Cats Bite to Show Affection?

Cats are independent and self-centered creatures. And as much as we’d like to think that the bites are a display of affection, it’s just your cat communicating with you. It either doesn’t feel like petting anymore, or it’s hurting.

But if that’s not affection, then what is it? Why does my cat bite me gently?

It’s a sign of overstimulation. Reportedly, the cat can begin to hurt after an extended period of petting, as cuddling starts to cause discomfort. Cats’ hair follicle receptors can bring pain if you rub them too much. 

That said, it’s good to know the cat petting areas. The most enjoyable places are around the ears and under the chin. Never pet your cat’s belly or near the tail. 

Last but not least, remember that cats aren’t dogs, so they don’t need as much grooming and petting. They show affection differently. Rubbing, headbutting, and purring are the most common ways for a cat to tell you that it loves being around you. 

How to Stop Cat Love Bites

The easiest and best way to respond is to read the cat’s body language. You should know if there’s a pattern and why and when it’s happening so you can pet your cat accordingly.

If you can’t see a pattern or don’t have enough time to decipher this mysterious creature, you should keep the following in mind:

  • Never pull your hand immediately when you feel love bites. Cats are visual predators and track movements, so they’ll hurt you even more if you move. When your cat love bites hurt, simply stop petting it, and it should stop biting, too. 
  • Play with toys. If your cat’s in a playful mood, toys can save your hands and feet from its bites. It’s an excellent way to bond with your cat in a hands-free manner, thus making love bites impossible.
  • Never yell at or hit a cat during love bites. That will only worsen the situation and make the cat more aggressive. Instead, try positive reinforcement with treats. Alternatively,  just put your cat aside and leave the room. It’ll show your pet that its behavior is inappropriate. 
  • Provide a cat-friendly environment, especially if you’re away for longer. Your cat will benefit from toys, like mazes or balls, and reduce stress.

If none of the above works, consult your vet. Sometimes anxiety can be a sign of a bigger problem. Your vet will perform a check-up and let you know how to proceed and how to keep your cat from biting. If training isn’t useful, a specific diet or medication could help. One such solution is CBD oil. It reduces stress and calms down your pet. But you should first consult your vet and look up the best CBD oil for cats.

Can Cat Love Bites Get Infected? 

Usually, love bites aren’t hurtful and don’t break the skin, but it can happen. If it does, you should immediately wash it under warm water and use antibacterial soap. That’s how you’ll prevent an infection. But if the skin where the cat nibbles is red and swollen, you should see a doctor.

As cats carry many bacteria, it’s vital to seek immediate help if you notice one of the following symptoms: 

  • Fluid emerging from the wound
  • Loss of feeling around the bite
  • Fever or chills

Reportedly, a cat bite infection can develop within several hours, but sometimes it can take up to 10 days.


Cat love bites never happen unintentionally. They’re always a sign of your cat telling you to stop what you’re doing. Although kitten bites can signify playfulness and affection, that’s always a clear signal to stop petting it with an adult cat.

If we want to take proper care of our pets, we need to understand them better. So next time you get cat love bites, keep calm and get a toy for your cat.

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