When you’re softly petting your cat, she licks your hand and then nips it. Many cat owners wonder, “Why does my cat lick me then attack me?” when they see this kind of behavior.
These so-called “cat love bites” don’t usually result in blood, but they do happen quickly, leaving you wondering what caused your cat’s behavior to change suddenly.
One of the most common feline behavioral issues is biting owners while petting.
Your cat may lick and attack you as a form of bonding with you during the grooming process, while showing affection towards you or when inviting you to play.
She could also be licking and biting you to indicate that she’s had enough of your attention and that you should stop stroking her.
A common question from pet owners is, why does my cat lick me then attack me? Below are 5 top reasons.
1. Your cat wants to groom you
When cats groom themselves, they usually lick their fur.
They usually groom themselves by chewing their fur to remove tangles and then licking it to finish the job. Similarly, they may lick their fur first before nipping or biting certain portions of their bodies.
This is a cat behavior that also extends to their preferred humans.
Your cat may lick your hair or elsewhere before biting you.
As far as the cat is concerned, she is grooming you, much like her siblings, to enhance her bond and friendship with you. Your cat is merely showing grooming behavior as though she were grooming another cat.
It’s possible that your cat is trying to groom you if she licks you several times, but if it’s only one lick followed by a bite, it’s most likely a love bite.
2. Your cat is showing a sign of affection
When your feline friend licks and bites you, she may be expressing her love for you.
It indicates that your cat is at ease, relaxed, and satisfied with your company.
It’s also possible that you’re dealing with a love bite.
But, exactly, what are love bites?
Your cat doesn’t realize that her love bites aren’t always pleasant for you,
A little nip is a perfectly acceptable way for a cat to indicate they love you and a typical show of affection.
Remember that a love bite is not a sign of aggression or negative behavior.
Cat bites are a normal feature of how cats (particularly kittens) interact with one another.
Kittens affectionately nip each other, but their skin is tougher than ours. It’s like kitty kisses. However, this behavior continues in adult cats as well.
While love biting is a common behavior in cats, you can manage it by observing your cat’s body language, learning to divert unwanted behaviors, and respecting her tolerance for contact.
3. Your cat might be indicating that she wants to play with you
Cats have a fascinating way of communicating with their humans. By licking and then biting you, your cat may be welcoming and initiating play.
How do you know if she’s in a playful mood? Look for forward-pointing ears and whiskers, as well as a tail that is erect and slightly dilated pupils.
Your cat may also walk with an arched back, crouch with her rear end slightly lifted, and act as though she’s stalking prey.
Your cat is signalling that you are her greatest buddy and that she wants to play with you by softly licking and biting you.
Playful mood or overstimulation
The tricky part is that playtime can appear very similar to the behavior of an overstimulated cat.
You are petting your cat and then suddenly she licks and bites you! What your cat will do next is the big question?
Does your cat adopt any play postures after the first lick and bite combination, or does he go straight for the toys? If she goes for the toys, she’s probably just trying to play with you!
If your cat instead attempts to run and increase the distance from you, it may be a case of overstimulation.
4. Your cat may be asking you to stop touching her
Cats enjoy playing with their owners and find it to be an excellent way to bond.
Cats, like humans, have mood swings, and if you play and pet her too aggressively, she may become irritated.
When a cat’s sensitive body area is stroked repeatedly, overstimulation occurs.
Your cat may lick you and then give you a gentle bite to let you know she needs a break and that you should stop giving her physical attention.
These are some of the symptoms of an overstimulated cat:
- Your cat’s tail may wiggle
- Her ears may flutter back and forth
- She will flatten her ears against her head
5. It’s possible that your cat is stressed
Stress and even aggression are commonplace in cats.
Biting and excessive licking are examples of this behavior.
Because she is nervous and anxious, your cat may start licking then biting you.
Other cat breeds, such as the Siamese, may chew on things more than others, including your hands.
If you feel that your cat’s unusual behavior is due to stress, speak with your veterinarian about the best course of action.
How to respond to cat bites?
When you’re petting your cat, pay attention to her body language to see if she’s up for some pampering or if you’re going to receive a dose of cat biting!
If you observe your cat’s body language, you can tell the difference between playful aggression and actual aggression.
Watch your cat for signs of discomfort, such as ears flattened to the side or a twitching tail, and stop touching your cat if you notice these signs.
Look carefully at the body language of your cat to see if she enjoys your touch.
If the cat attacks after you stroke her five times, you should stop at four strokes. You can also stop at the fourth stroke and loudly announce the petting session is over and offer your cat her favorite toy.
Brief petting sessions
Petting sessions should be brief, with frequent pauses to assess the cat’s interest.
Don’t disturb a sleeping cat
Don’t approach or handle a sleeping or resting cat; you should always call your cat over to interact.
Don’t touch the wrong areas
Avoid touching cats on their bellies or near their tails. Instead, touch areas around the ears and under the chin.
Never respond harshly to a cat bite
You should never scruff, shake, or frighten the cat, as this can trigger actual aggression in the cat.
If a cat bites and breaks your skin, make sure to clean the wound immediately.
Keep an eye out for swelling, pain, or discoloration.
If you see any of these symptoms, contact your doctor. For more details, check out this article.
As you can see, your cat licking you and then biting is not necessarily a bad thing. That’s your cat’s way of saying, “I love you.”
She may also bite you after licking to indicate that the day’s petting session is done. You should quickly wind up. She adores you, but she requires some alone time.
Gentle cat biting might also signal that it’s time to restart a grooming session. Their grooming method includes gentle nibbling. As they massage your leg, lick your head, and softly chew your hands, sit down for the beauty treatment and watch them fuss over you.
If your cat exhibits aggressive behavior without provocation, have her examined by a veterinarian. This behavior could be the result of major underlying issues.