Cat Love Bites – What Do They Mean and Why Do They Happen?

Cat lovers are probably the most passionate group of the population. We love our cats! We carry our love, we record it, we photograph it and we share our love with all of our hearts. While we love our cats and want our cats to love us back, we sometimes get a little too eager when we demonstrate that love to our cats. Yes, we want to cuddle and stroke them non-stop, and very often they enjoy the attention – up to a point! Cat love bites are the result of our demonstrative rampage. Anyone who has lived with a cat likely has a story or two about cat love bites. Let’s find out how to identify cat love bites versus real cat bites and what to do when cat love bites occur.

Cat love bites and becomes overexcited

What are cat love bites and why do they happen? Remember: don’t teach your cat that human fingers are toys! Photography © g_lutsenko | iStock / Getty Images Plus.

Cat sounds can only provide insight into our cats’ emotions up to a point. So we rely on the cat’s body language to find out how cats are feeling. Ears back, low growls, throbbing tail says: “Now stay away from me.” A cat cornered and excited could attack the perceived threat. If you watch out for escalating aggressive signals from your cat, you can thwart real cat bites. Real cat bites that lead to stab wounds should be treated immediately.

However, there are times when you and your cat are in the groove. You give him a nice ear massage and he looks at you with soft eyes and gives you that slow kiss of the cat. He might even start kneading your leg. The feeling of mutual admiration pulsates through the air. You start rubbing his shoulders, he seems to really like this petted area. So you increase the pressure and lean in a little more to increase the purr. Then, seemingly without warning, he bites your hand while you stroke him. You are likely to feel the pain before you can even realize what just happened. Cat loves bites to hit again!

According to Jackson Galaxy, cat behaviorist and author, cat bites mean your cat is overstimulated. Specifically, Galaxy tells the Sydney Morning Herald, “It’s called stroking overstimulation. A cat’s hair follicle receptors can only stroke so much before it hurts. “

Cat love bites can be a behavior arrest from kitten days

Cat love bites

Cat love bites are actually kitten-like cat behavior. Photography © VasilevKirill | iStock / Getty Images Plus.

My Himalayan mix called Slayer comes out of the blue and bites my arm – it’s more like a nip. Whether I’m on the couch or in bed, he jumps up and makes this random gesture. Then he drops and exposes his stomach. This ritual ends with me giving him a few pats. But not too many!

So what is this about? Dr. Karen Becker tells the Huffington Post that she is reminiscent of the way cats and kittens interact with each other in a playful manner. It’s a different form of cat’s loving bite, but it’s not the result of too much stimulation. It is your cat who is just being playful and using his non-verbal communication skills to let you know that she would like some attention now, please.

Cat love bites and plays aggression in cats

Most kittens play hard. The youth game is not only a form of social bonding, it also prepares the throw for adulthood. Seizures of mock stalking and hunting give way to falling and biting. Cat love bites can occur when your kitten is playing aggressively with you, especially if your kitten has no other feline playmate.

Again, by taking care of your kitten, you can tell the difference between aggressive playtime and real aggression in cats. If he doesn’t growl or hiss, his arousal escalates (no arousal). It is important to remember that your Play Drive is linked to the Prey Drive (which historically ends in a “kill”). Dr. Jean Hofve, DVM, Holistic Vet, warns on the Jackson Galaxy blog that playing with your kitten can directly lead to unwanted aggression towards you when he is an adult. Cat loves bites of kittens could be fun. Adult cat lovemaking bites can cause swelling and infection.

If you’ve accidentally created a cat that becomes a little too muzzle while playing cat love bites, you can change this behavior. Do not play with your hands with your cats. Instead, use a toy with a string or wand. Teach your cat to fetch. Try training your cat with a clicker.

What to do after a cat’s love bite

In its interview with the Sydney Morning Herald, Galaxy recommends looking out for signs of restlessness while petting your cat. When his pupils dilate, his ears stick back, and his tail begins to wag, stop petting your cat. It really is that simple. If you don’t stop before these cat love bites appear, definitely stop as soon as you get bitten.

Then let your cat decide what to do next. Sometimes cats make an insane rush. Sometimes they still want to be around you, they just don’t want you to stroke them any longer. Respect your cat’s boundaries and stop touching her if she stays next to you.

The bottom line in cat love bites

Cats show affection in a myriad of subtle ways. So always be receptive to what he tells you. Seemingly harmless acts like cheek rubbing, head butting, and licking actually let you know that they love you! Whether he’s hanging around and purring or kneading your extremities raw and chirping, it’s all about love.

Whether they give you little cat love bites out of follicular frustration or out of cat playfulness, our cats always let us know how they are feeling. It is up to us to take care of it.

Thumbnail: Photography © BubblegirlPhoto | iStock / Getty Images Plus.

This piece was originally released on February 7th, 2018.

Tell us: What causes your cat to give you these cat love bites and how do you react to cat love bites?

About the author

Denise LeBeau is a writer, editor, and photographer with nearly 20 years of experience creating content for animal-related topics, endeavors, and events. She worked for Best Friends Animal Society for 12 years, where she had two columns in Best Friends Magazine, and had multiple content creation roles including the web management editor and the outreach campaign editor. Denise has been a continuous contributor to Catster since 2014 and writes for the magazine and website. The self-proclaimed poet of the Pet-Set is currently head of development at an animal welfare agency, where she works with a team to create content across media platforms. She lives in Hampton Bays with her two Siamese rescue mixes, Flipper and Slayer, and her LBD (little brown dog) Zephyrella.

For more information on cat behavior, visit


Related Articles