Cats can have pretty weird habits – something that I’ve proven over the years. Kitties will scratch, make biscuits, sleep in weird places, and so much more. But why does my cat lick me then bite me? I’ve experienced this with my tabby Watson before, and the explanation is not as simple as it seems to be. Most cats lick their owners as a form of grooming but being followed by a bite is quite an enigma.
Licking then biting has different reasons per cat. For Watson, it’s more of a “love bite” whenever he wants to initiate playtime. Still, the following can be possible reasons, too:
Reason #1: Your cat is overstimulated
The most common reasons why cats lick then bite their owners is overstimulation. It’s your cat’s way of saying that he’s done with petting.
You shouldn’t take this as a form of aggression. Overstimulation happens, and since your cat can’t speak, they will make their feelings known through biting, licking, or scratching.
Cats communicate with us in different ways. A gentle bite might mean that it’s time to stop the belly rubs. Still, you shouldn’t punish your cat for it since it will only fuel aggression and other behavioral problems.
Reason #2: Your cat is showing affection
Affection is another possible reason why your cat licks then bites. It’s a tough kind of love, but it’s your cat’s unique way of showing their fondness for you.
Moreover, licking is a cat’s way of grooming. They also do this to their litter and other cats they consider as part of the family. So if your cat licks you, the kitty considers you as a family member. But what if it’s followed by a bite? A gentle bite is a “love bite” and shouldn’t draw blood.
Aside from that, cats usually bite while grooming to remove stubborn dirt and to scratch an itch. This could be a developed habit, which your kitty may also do to you.
Reason #3: Your cat wants some playtime
Lastly, your cat might be being playful. This is what Watson does to me whenever he wants some playtime. He will lick me on the ears, followed by a nibble. Sometimes, he would bring a toy, and if I don’t pay attention to him, he will be licking and biting me on the toes.
This is a non-verbal way of my kitten to tell me that “Hey, let’s have some fun and play with me!” Some cats will not give the lick-bite combo, only the bite. In the end, it’s all about your cat’s habits and personality.
Reason #4: You taste good!
While this is not common, cats will lick then bite if something is delicious on your skin. You probably ate something savory, and the sauce dripped on your arm. The skin products you’re using may also be appealing to cats.
Take note that this is unsafe for your cats since the skin product might contain toxic ingredients to felines. Whatever the reason behind the licking and biting, you must train your cat that it’s not acceptable behavior.
Why does my cat lick me then attack me?
If your cat licks then attacks you, it might be more than just affection or playfulness. Your cat might be triggered by something that resulted in an aggressive reaction. It could be the smell of another cat if you happen to pet a stray or a friend’s pet outside.
However, if your cat’s claws are all out and ready to attack, you should consider the possibility of a behavioral problem. You can consult your cat’s veterinarian for proper advice.
Petting aggression is pretty common among cats. It could be due to overstimulation or rough play. Remember that each cat has different thresholds when it comes to physical stimulation. Others don’t mind belly rubs all day long, while there are some that get on edge pretty easily.
Why does my cat bite me unprovoked?
Regardless if it’s accompanied by licking, unprovoked biting can be a form of aggression. An unprovoked bite followed by hissing and an arched back is a defensive stance. Your cat sees you as a threat and has bitten your skin to defend itself.
Moreover, some cat breeds are more likely to give unprovoked bites. The likes of Sphynx, Bengal, Egyptian Mau, Singapura, and Korat have low thresholds when it comes to different stimuli. They get easily nervous when hearing loud sounds or seeing a sudden movement. This will make them appear as mean kittens.
It’s important to know your cat to understand the real reason behind the unprovoked attacks. Some cats prefer showing their affection and playfulness through rough ways. While this might be the case, you should do something to fix it.
How to stop your cat from biting you
If your cat’s licking and biting habits are starting to be problematic, you should devise an action plan to correct it. The following are helpful tips to discourage your kitty from biting:
- Say a firm ‘no’. Cats are sensitive beings, so they often take cues from the tone of your voice. Saying a ‘firm’ no will distract a cat from its biting behavior. After that, walk away from your cat to signify your dislike of what it just did.
- Don’t offer your skin. As cat owners, we often engage our cats in playtime using our hands. In return, cats think that it’s okay to bite and nibble on our fingers. This is where the licking and biting habit begins.
- Give an interactive toy. If you have a cat that likes to use its mouth to play, you might as well get it an interactive toy. This will keep the cat busy so that it won’t lick or bite your skin. A chew toy will also work to divert your cat’s chewing habit.
- Perform the replacement behavior training. If your cat licks and bites when you lie down on the couch, you should offer an alternative behavior. Ask the cat to sit or stay on the floor. If the kitty follows, sound a clicker, then give a treat right away. Repeat this until your cat stops biting and sits in peace.
- Never punish the cat. Our pets don’t understand the reason behind our anger. They only see and feel the pain. Such a thing will only lead to further problems and potential aggression in the future.
Why does my cat lick me then bite me? It can be anything from being playful, showing affection or, tasting something on your skin. Whatever the reason is, you should do something to stop the biting habit. This will prevent further behavioral problems on your cat’s part.
Marco Vasquez is a passionate animal lover and writer with extensive experience in the pet care industry. He has worked with various pets, including dogs, cats, birds, and fish, and deeply understand their unique needs and behaviors. Marco’s love for animals has driven him to become an expert in pet health, nutrition, and behavior, and he is always eager to share his knowledge and insights with others. As a member of the Petcosset team, Marco brings his expertise to help pet owners make informed decisions about the well-being of their little friends. He enjoys hiking and spending time outdoors with his pets in his free time.