You’re playing with your cat when she starts nipping at your fingers, which might leave you questioning, “Why is my cat biting me?”
These so-called “cat soft bites” or “love bites” don’t usually draw blood, but they occur quickly, which leaves you wondering what made the change in your pet’s behaviour.
Bites from pets are not surprising, but interestingly are usually not a sign of actual aggression.
Let’s begin by considering some of the main situations in which cat keepers are bitten and avoiding apparent pitfalls. Most keepers describe their pet’s behavior as ‘unprovoked.’ But there usually are signs to look out for once you know the subtle language of cats!
What Cat Love Bites Are and Aren’t?
Soft bites usually begin as licks and finish into gentle nibbles and nips that don’t break the skin.
Some cat behaviorists consider that soft bites are evocative of a cat’s kittenhood when their moms lick and nip them while grooming. So if your pet is providing you a soft nibble or lick, it can be viewed as a sign of affection.
And accept it or not, though indoor cats aren’t normally regarded as “social” animals, they enjoy engaging in what’s called “allogrooming.” Allogrooming is a friendly grooming practice that helps build bonds between social groups. In this state, you and your cat, much like the pride of lions.
So, how can you specify what is and isn’t an affection bite? A soft bite usually doesn’t break the skin. And when your kitty is offering you these soft nips, there won’t be other symptoms of fear or hostility, like clawing, hissing, and growling.
Engaging in the “love bite” behavior, your kitty’s body language will be calm and relaxed.
Why Does Your Pet Bite You During Petting Periods?
There aren’t many studies on why cats engage in affection biting; most of what’s understood is speculation.
If the cuddling continues regardless of the cat’s attempts to warn that they are fulfilled with being petted, the kitty may head to a bite. A pet’s love bite can also be an outcome of overstimulation.
Cat soft bites can also be accidental as part of the cat’s grooming process. They could be licking for some time, then applying their teeth to get an exact area. Your pat may like to groom you, your head or face or hand.
Furthermore, not all kitties like petting. A few cats may enjoy or want to rest on their pet owner’s lap but may not actually like being petted. It’s also likely that the pet butler is petting the cat in areas where it seems unpleasant, such as near or on its tail or belly.
However, many pet parents know: often, these soft bites and licks can be an indication of overstimulation, and they’re letting you know, kindly, that it’s time to end. If you own multiple cats that groom each other, you might see this behavior during the grooming course.
Cats may feel overstimulation because of the sensitivity of their hair follicles – after a long period of petting or force, it can start to hurt and create discomfort in cats.
Soft nips may be signaling you that petting time is over. These signs can be paired with other symptoms of discomfort, such as ears flattening, skin twitching over the back, tail swishing, freezing, staring, quick head turns to see your hand, pupillary dilation, or walking away and lying down.
How to Properly Respond to Cat Soft Bites?
Reading your cat’s body language is one of the excellent ways to know how to respond properly and prevent future incidents. Look for signs of discomfort, such as a twitching tail or ears to the side, and end petting if these are observed.
Pet owners should check if the cat’s biting stops when being petted more often or less. The owner should then react properly before the cat bites. Thus, the owner should always stop at five if the cat usually nibbles after six petting strokes. This can even teach the pet that ‘All done!’
It would be best to always invite your cat over to interact instead of approaching and handling a resting or sleeping cat. And focus on cuddling in areas that pets usually like, such as below the chin and around the ears, and avoid petting cats near their tails or on bellies.”
Never respond negatively to cat biting. The pet parent should never shake, scruff, spray or threaten the cat in any way; this can cause the pet to react with real and serious aggression.
If a pet bites you and damages the skin, be sure to wash the injury immediately. Watch for any pain, swelling, or redness that spreads. If you notice any of these, consult your doctor or proceed to a walk-in clinic.
Soft biting is a natural behavior in cats but can be controlled by reading your cat’s body language, respecting her tolerance for contact, and learning to redirect undesired behaviors.
How to Stop “Soft Bites”?
While love bites can frequently signify affection, they can still disturb or cause trouble to owners. It’s good to control this behavior.
- When your cat provides you soft bites, don’t immediately pull your handoff. Rather, stop driving your hand until the end of the bites, then move your hand.
They are visual predators, and the movement of your hand may promote their prey to drive and get them to chew down harder, completely out of instinct.
- Don’t beat or yell at your cat, as this may end in dreadful or offensive behavior. Rather, apply a prize rule, such as treats, when the pet displays decent behavior.
- Use a hands-off play system if your cat gives you soft nibbles a few too frequently. Use attractive toys such as a type of feather wand or even an app-controlled pet toy to promote bonding with your pet without the soft nibbles.
Protecting Children From Bites
Ultimately, while cats can be excellent pets for families with kids, we can also fully understand why you might need tips on dealing with cats possibly biting your kid.
After all, despite soft cat nibbles being frequently safe for adults, they can harm kids with a much weaker threshold for pain. Furthermore, even if meant to be playful and light, a pet bite can frighten kids and stop them from developing a close bond with your kitty.
You should watch interactions between kids and your pet, and see out for the signs that have been described in this post, so you can walk in before any biting happens.
As kids get slightly more mature, you can teach them several principles that have been included, such as watching out for the warning signs of irritation and studying what soft biting really means in various situations.