Kitty Love Bites

Cats sometimes bite to show playfulness or affection.

Cats show affection in a variety of ways that sometimes perplex their human owners. Our experts answer questions about love bites and other behaviors related to cats showing affection.

Visitor Questions about Love Bites and Feline Affection

Cat Bites After Being Petted

Hi, We have three cats and one of them, Raven, bites every time I'm done petting him. It's a rather hard bite. My husband thinks Raven is trying to show some kind of affection or acknowledging that he enjoys being petted, but it's annoying. It hurts and we don't want to pet him. Do you know why he does this and how to get him to stop?

Thanks,

~~Lori, Bob & Raven

Expert Reply

Hi, Lori,

Your husband is right in thinking that this is a form of affection. Many cats give what I call "love bites" to show that they are happy and playful. I hate to tell you this, but it's hard to break a cat of doing this because it's almost instinctive. Cats have tougher skin than humans. Also, it is easier to break a kitten of love biting than an older cat. However, there are a few things you can try that might help a little. Persistence, patience and positive reinforcement can often work wonders.

  1. When he bites, put him down immediately, say "no" and walk away. Do not give him any other attention. Do this every single time he bites.
  2. Do not yank your hand away when he lays his teeth on you. This can actually make the bite feel worse, even though it is instinctive on a human's part to want to jerk away. The cat can also see this as a sign that you're ready to play rough. Wait until he loosens his bite and then tell him no and walk away.

On the other end of the spectrum, many cats have a low tolerance to stroking and petting or grow overexcited. If you pet the cat just a second too long, he will sink his teeth into you to let you know he wants you to stop. Signs that your cat has had enough stroking and petting:

  • Twitching tail
  • Flattening ears
  • Purring stops
  • Turning head toward you or your hand

If you notice your cat doing any of these things, immediately take your hands off him and see if this helps the situation. Good luck!

~~Lori

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Kitty Love Bites