Why Does My Cat Lick Then Bite Me?

Updated on June 4,2020

Our cats can show affection in surprising ways. Whether it’s rubbing against your leg or making biscuits in your lap; each cat will prove their love in different ways! Keeping that in mind, is licking and then biting just another form of their feline love?

cat bite

In this article we’ll dive into the behavior and help you understand what it means when your cat licks then bites you!

Why do cats lick?

Have you ever wondered why cats have such a rough tongue? That’s because their tongue is covered in tiny keratin spines, similar to what you find in their nails. These tiny spines help cats remove dirt from their fur, keep their fur tangle free, as well as help them scoop water into their mouths. Their tongues are responsible for helping them perfect their grooming routine, meaning the licking action is seen as a positive behavior. 

Since cats lick their fur in effort to maintain their cleanliness, the behavior of licking is often associated with caring for an object or person. Cats lick and suckle on objects and people they love, and this is often why you’ll see your cat doing this action when they are happy. 

Why do cats bite?

Biting can mean many things when it comes to cats. There are multiple levels of biting, ranging from playful bites to something more severe. As long as your cat’s biting is not associated with aggressive behavior, it’s safe to say that their bite is either playful or loving. Cats will also often pull away and stop biting after a few nibbles if they are coming from a place of love. 

However, if your cat is biting you along with other concerning behaviors such as hissing, swatting, aggressive posture, or other signs of distress; your cat’s bite may be expressing forms of aggression toward you or other objects. 

cat bite

Be sure to examine your cat’s body language each time they bite in order to truly understand what your cat is trying to tell you. By assessing other clues, you have a better chance of keeping yourself safe. 

So why does your cat lick then bite you?

Now that you understand each individual behavior, let’s dive into the possible reasons as to why your cat licks and bites you. Some of the most common reasons include:

They Are Grooming You

Though we may not have fur like our feline companions, they may still feel the need to groom you out of love! Cats will often lick your skin and offer love bites in effort to keep your “fur” clean and tidy, showing you the same amount of care that they show themselves. This is a true form of love when it comes to cat language, and a sign that they are truly content in your home!

They Are In A Playful Mood

Sometimes our cats have so much playful energy pent up that they let out a few love bites in the process. Bites are a form of communication in the cat language, and cats use forms of light biting to play with other cat friends. A simple nibble after licking may just mean that your cat is ready for a play session with their favorite human!

They Are Showing Affection

Cats are taught from a young age that forms of light biting can be a representation of love. Mother cats will groom their babies, often nibbling on their fur as well. Since they grow up associating this behavior with their mother’s love, this may translate into your cat’s expression of love towards you. If your cat is cuddled up next to you and happens to offer a love bite after licking your arm. Think of it as a sweet “I love you”. 

They Are Trying To Communicate

Cats don’t have the option of using their words to communicate with us, so they often have to resort to other tactics. Some cats are known to lick and bite their owners when they need their food bowl filled, are interested in play time, or even just to get your attention. Pay attention to whether your cat’s nibbles happen around the same time of day, or when it appears they need something. 

cat bite

How To Know If Your Cat Is Biting Out Of Anger

While your cat’s behavior of licking and then biting you may be a form of love, it is possible that some cats are biting their owners out of anger or frustration. So how do you know the difference? A cat that is biting out of aggression may display the following behaviors along with their biting:

  • Tail flicking
  • Growling
  • Hissing
  • Tense posture
  • Swatting
  • Piercing eyes
  • Pinned back ears
  • Lunging
  • Biting hard enough to break skin
  • Removing themselves from the area you’re in

If you notice any of the above behaviors in your cat, it’s time to consider any possible factors that may be triggering your cat. 

When Is The Behavior Worrisome?

As long as the biting associated with licking is not painful or associated with any form of aggression, there is nothing to worry about! Simple love bites are just another form of feline communication, and should not be the cause of any concern.

However, if your cat’s biting is ever excessive or comes along with other aggressive behaviors, it’s time to consider what could be causing your cat anguish within your home. Cats can experience stress with even minor changes in their home and routine, so you may need to look at your home under a microscope and figure out what is upsetting your favorite feline friend. 

Summary

We already know our feline friends can display some odd behaviors, and licking and biting is just another odd display of love that we can add to the list. Be sure to review the possible reasons behind this behavior that we listed above, and you’ll have a better understanding of your kitty going forward!

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