If you own a cat, you are probably familiar with all these peculiar habits our furry friends have. One of them is adorably licking our hands or other body parts before actually biting them. Although such behavior may seem strange and pointless, as a matter of fact, it can be easily explained. Learn what are possible reasons why cats precede biting with licking your skin to understand their motivation behind this behavior better.

So why actually does my kitty lick and then bite me?

Licking and biting are ways in which our cats communicate with us. Unfortunately, even if you are a pet owner with many years of experience with domestic cats, it may be difficult for you to always interpret their intentions. Observing your cat’s body language can be helpful in determining what the causes of their behavior are. If you want to understand your kitty, take a good look at them, and try to analyze the reasons why your cat behaves in a certain way. Learn about the possible clarifications of why your furry friend licks then bites you to better understand their expectations towards you. Unfortunately, there is no unique explanation for cats’ licks and nibbles. Discover some of the most common reasons why cats do it to humans:

They want to express their love

Giving small bites is a way cats show their affection. Have you ever observed two felines interacting with each other? If so, you have probably also seen them nibbling each other. This behavior is strongly instinctive and allows them to express their positive feelings towards their companion. The habit can also be extended to humans. If your cat approaches you, gives you a few licks, and then bites you gently, you should treat this as a love bite. This means that your kitty feels at ease with you and your presence makes them content.

It’s playtime

Some cats may lick you and then bite you in order to encourage you to play with them. This is common mostly for kittens and young cats, however, can also be seen in senior cats. If you just do nothing and don’t pay attention to your little buddy, they may try to spur you to play with them. If you don’t understand what your cat wants, they can usually also bring their toys to you to make their message clearer. Playing with you is one of the most joyful moments of your cat’s life, so try to do it as often as possible to keep your feline in good mental health.

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Your cat is grooming you

Have you ever seen a cat grooming another cat? This is a common behavior in the world of cats that helps kitties always look spotless. Grooming is a way in which cats keep each other clean. It also enables them to bond and strengthens their relationship. So, if your cat starts a connection with you this way, they are expressing the willingness to interact with you. Other explanations? Your cat can lick you to help you keep your body clean. When they come across any kind of textural skin irregularity or impurity, they may try to bite it off.

Your cat is overstimulated

Extended petting sessions are one of the possible reasons why your cat may bite you after licking. Once you pet your cat for a long time, it may be too much for them. As a result, they can easily become overstimulated, and touching them can start to be an uncomfortable experience. This can lead to so-called petting-induced aggression. If your pet feels suddenly irritated by your touch, they are likely to stop purring and give you nips or light bites instead as a sort of warning to stop petting them. Then, they usually jump up and run off. Such a reaction to over-stimulation is completely normal and shouldn’t raise concerns.

Here are some of the most common signs telling you that your cat is overstimulated, and you can anticipate biting behavior:

  • Titching tail — Once your cat is happy, they can slowly move their tail back and forth. If the movements are getting stronger, they may want to show you that they feel uncomfortable.
  • Twitching skin — Your cat’s back skin can pulse when they are irritated. Once you feel it twitching, stop touching your pet.
  • Ears that turn back — If your cat is turning back their ears, not because of some interesting sounds around, they are trying to show you that they don’t feel well, and you can expect them to attack you in seconds.
  • Head that quickly moves towards your hand – This may also be a way in which your cat tells you to back off. You shouldn’t ignore any sudden movements of your cat.
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Your cat is tensed

Although we usually perceive cats as solitary creatures who pretty much don’t care about anything, for many of them the reality is completely opposite. Many cats are sensitive, and their behavior can usually be driven by emotions. Once they are stressed, they may show it to you with a few licks followed by a bite. This is also a common behavior when your feline is afraid of you. If your hand is close to them, they may attack it in order to defend themselves. What can cause your cat to feel tensed? It is hard to enumerate them all. They may include moving to a new apartment, having strangers over, adopting a new pet, or you acting strange, which can make your pet feel insecure.

Your cat needs some time alone

You probably experienced this strange feeling when you spend lots of time with others, and with time their behavior simply gets you mad. But have you ever thought that your kitty can feel the same way when they constantly have you around? If you pet your cat for hours, talk to them all the time, and don’t allow them to get enough rest, they may be fed up with you and need some time alone. Keep in mind that your cat needs some personal space and a peaceful moment of privacy at least from time to time. Otherwise, it may result in your cat biting you.

Your cat is hungry

Does your cat lick and bite you when their feeding time is approaching? What they might be trying to tell you is that they are starving and need food immediately! But remember — cats are adorable but clever creatures! If you give them food, every time they ask for it, they can get used to it and try to force you to feed them around the clock. If your cat follows a feeding schedule, try to stick to it and don’t get mousy because of their bites.

Can I stop my pet from licking and biting me?

Many cat parents wonder if it is possible to stop their cat from biting. This is a complicated issue and the answer depends on the cause of your cat’s behavior. If they do it because they simply can’t stand you touching them and need more time alone, the easiest way is to give them what they want and stay away from them, at least for some time.

If your cat is likely to lick and bite you because they are overstimulated, there are several tips that you should follow to get rid of this nasty behavior. Firstly, shorten petting sessions to a minimum. Secondly, try to understand your cat’s body language — when you see a sudden change in their behavior, stop petting them. Thirdly, try not to initiate petting — whenever your cat feels they need your attention, they will surely approach you.

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If you have a playful cat who is obstreperous, unpredictable, and eager to give you gentle bites while playing at the same time, you may try to find some objects that will replace your hands. Putting an interactive toy in their mouth may turn out to be an extremely easy solution to your problem. This will keep your cat’s teeth busy so that the pet won’t be able to bite you. If you feel that your cat is too aggressive and steps over the line, tell them to stop. Don’t scream but be serious. Cats can feel our emotions, and your furry friend will surely see that something is wrong. Remember to be consistent and never ignore your cat’s biting behavior.

If your cat’s biting and licking habits are starting to be problematic, and you have no clue on how to deal with them, the best solution may be to visit a cat behaviorist who will help you better understand your cat.

Should I punish my cat for biting me?

Biting is certainly not desirable, but it is normal cat behavior. Even if you don’t like it, never punish your little friend for it. Why? Cats can’t speak our language and use their bodies to send us signals on how they feel and what they want. They also don’t entirely understand our intentions. Now imagine that your cat wants to show their affection towards you by licking and biting your hand. You obviously don’t like it and yell at your poor cat. They are confused and don’t understand why you got mad (they simply wanted to show you that they love you and did nothing wrong) and run off. If this happens regularly, your cat can be perplexed, develop fears or even become aggressive in the future.

Summary: why does my cat lick me then bite me?

We hope that now you understand better why cats tend to lick and then bite us. It can mean anything from being happy by inviting you to play with them to detecting something on your skin. If you don’t get your cat’s intention, try to listen to their mood, and carefully observe their body, as it can show you what the reason behind their behavior is.