Why Does My Cat Bite Me Gently?

It is almost impossible to come across a cat owner who has not been bitten at least once by their cat.

It is very common for cats to bite because they can get overstimulated by too much physical affection or interaction and use biting as a way to say that they need to be left alone for a while.

It can happen quite quickly out of seemingly nowhere which is why a lot of the time, owners are not fast enough with avoiding it before it happens.

However, sometimes it is not an aggressive bite and can be very gentle without any blood being drawn which is even more confusing because biting without the intent to cause pain is quite rare among animals.

Gentle Biting

When a cat bites you gently, it is known as a love bite and doesn’t usually draw blood.

Even though the name sounds sweet and loving, it can be quite jarring and even painful which is why a lot of owners ask themselves why their cat is biting them even though they have a strong relationship.

With love bites, it typically begins when your cat is licking or grooming you and will become a bit more intense with speed and or pressure and before long, your cat will be gently biting you.

You will know it is a love bite because the cat won’t be showing any other signs of being aggressive such as hissing, clawing, and kicking.

Contrary to the name of the behavior, your cat is not giving you a love bite as a way to show affection and instead as a way to tell you that they are done with the petting session and would like to be left alone.

However, it is done in this gentle way because they don’t want to hurt you, but it is the only way that they know how to communicate the message to you.

To respect their wishes, you should stop stroking them as soon as they give you a love bite because if you don’t, your cat will likely escalate to properly biting you and this is unpleasant for both you and the cat.

Having said this, a cat giving you a love bite can also be because they are trying to get to a particular spot on your hand, head, or arm that they need their teeth to get to.

Even if this is the case, as a human you cannot be sure, so it’s still best to stop petting them.

Other Cat Bites And What They Mean

Cats can’t speak the same way that we can so rely on their body language, vocalization, and biting to get their messages across to us.

Over stimulation is one of the main reasons why cats bite and being able to tell the signs of when a cat is getting to that point will make you a lot less likely to get bitten and both you and the cat will reach an understanding.

Kitten Biting

Like most if not all young animals, kittens are curious, playful, and mischievous.

Pair this with them practicing their hunting skills, and you get a kitten that wants to pounce on and bite anything that moves.

This stage of play biting is important for the kittens’ development because it teaches them how to communicate, bite inhibition which knows when to stop, and how to hunt.

When they are at this age, they are also going through teething pain which makes their gums itchy and painful, and biting on things such as toys or hands helps to ease this pain.

Even though it is natural for kittens to playfully bite us, this does not mean that you cannot put a stop to it.

To prevent your kitten from biting you, don’t play games with them that involve chasing or wrestling with your hands because it will teach them that your hands are toys and are always up for grabs.

There are plenty of suitable toys out there that you can pick up which will redirect your kitten from your hands onto the toys.

You will be very thankful that you did this because having a full-grown cat with larger teeth biting on your hands is not as cute or funny as it was when they were a kitten!

Play Biting

If you do not put a stop to this behavior when your cat is a kitten or you have adopted an adult cat, they can use your hands as a way to meet their playful needs.

It is common for a cat to get very excited when they are playing and will bite your skin hard enough to draw blood.

Do not worry though because even though they are an adult, it is not too late to stop them from biting your hands.

Get some toys that will let them pounce, chase, and wrestle and they will be much more excited to play with the toys instead of your hands or feet.

You should always let your cat win when you are playing with them because they can get frustrated and can take it out on you if they are especially stroppy.

If you notice your cat getting too stimulated and excited when playing with the toys, wind it down and put them away so that they calm down.

Sudden Biting When Being Petting

Sadly, this is another thing that a lot of cat owners are familiar with because it feels unprovoked and ruins a very special, affectionate moment.

Not only can it hurt your feelings because the cat that you love and care for seemingly hates you out of nowhere, but it can also make you feel unnerved around them because you are now expecting them to attack at any moment.

If your cat has bitten you suddenly, the first thing you should do is not take it as a personal attack against you.

This type of biting comes down to your cat being overstimulated and overexcited and the only way that they know how to communicate this is by biting you because they know it will make you stop.

Petting sensitive areas repetitively such as the base of the tail or the stomach can quickly build up inside your cat and will be released through a bite to the hand.

Some cats are more sensitive than others so keeping this in mind when interacting with your cat can avoid a lot of these altercations.

A couple of the signs that your cat is getting overstimulated as you pet them is their tail gently swishing and their ears flattening which are subtle signs, so you need to pay attention.

Even though cats are adorable and soft, and we want to show our affection for them, sometimes the best thing you can do is simply sit with them and or have them sit on you without you petting them, and they will happily purr in your company.

Aggressive Biting

Unlike the other kinds of cat bites, this kind of biting is one that you should probably take personally because it is a sign that you have done something to upset the cat which can be because you entered their space, and they feel threatened, or you have suddenly frightened them.

Aggressive biting is very painful and most times, your skin will be broken which can lead to bacteria from the cat’s mouth being introduced into your bloodstream.

This can lead to infection and illnesses, especially if you are bitten by a feral cat as they can be carrying a selection of diseases.

You should go to the hospital as soon as you can so that you can get preventative medications that will kill the bacteria.

To avoid an aggressive bite, you must learn how to read the signs when a cat is unhappy with your presence.

Do not corner an aggressive, scared cat and if they show body languages such as an arched back, flat ears, or hissing then you should back off and leave them be.

If you are bitten by a cat aggressively, do not punish them because they have done nothing wrong other than protect themselves against a perceived threat.

Biting you was the last-ditch attempt of communicating with you and if you punish them, it will only make them more distressed, and they are unable to understand the punishment anyway.


Even when a cat gives you a gentle love bite, it can still be unnerving because biting is associated with aggression, but there is much more that goes into why cats bite us.

Knowing these different reasons is important to understanding our cats and what we can do to make them feel relaxed and confident in their abilities to communicate.

Courtney Trent
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