General Cat Information

7 reasons why cats bite then lick you

If you are like most cat owners you may be wondering why do cats bite then lick you. It seems strange as we humans think of biting as an agressive action that means you don’t want whatever is going on to happen, however with cats biting is a much different thing.

Cats bit for many reasons from playing to establishing domanace to showing fear. Your cat may bite for any of these reasons and more. The important thing to remember is this is a natural behavor and you should not punish them for biting. You will however need to figure out why they are doing it so you can fix the issue.

It’s a Grooming Habit

If you have more than one cat and you have ever watched them groom each other you may notice that they often are licking and biting while doing this. Bathing each other in this way is normal cat behavior and they may just be licking and biting you because it’s a learned grooming behavior.

If your cat is doing this because it feels it’s grooming you, then you have been accepted into the cat world and they see you as a fellow cat.

Your Cat has anxiety or is stressed

When your cat is biting it may be showing you that it’s stressed out. Cats do get anxiety, in fact, my cat Pumpkin seems to get it a lot. It’s again normal, however, if you notice that your cat is also not eating or changes other habits take them to the vet.

If you think your cat is licking and biting because it’s stressed or anxious you want to try to calm them. You can use things like calming treats or just put them in their own room for a few minutes and see if they relax.

They no longer want attention

Have you been giving your cat some attention and then they try to bite you then lick you? Well, they may be saying I’m done with the attention, but I’m sorry I bit you.

Cats do use biting when they want you to stop doing something. Most of the time it’s a soft bite and if you simply stop what you are doing they will stop biting. Cats are finicky creatures and when they are done with something they are done at that moment.

Keep your cat happy by realizing this is what they want and stop petting them. Sometimes they will move, sometimes they are happy to still sit where they were, just without the petting.

Your cat may be hungry

It’s 5 am and your cat’s food dish is empty. They think they are starving so they come up to your bed, jump up and start walking toward your face. Then in a not so gentle motion, they bite your nose or lick it to wake you up.

At least that is what my cat, Pumpkin does if the food dish is empty. Usually, this only happens when I don’t wake up to Dixie meowing because she is convinced she is starving and will die.

You may not be sleeping when your cat decides it’s going to bite you for food, however, you can usually tell this is the cause of the event. Your cat may meow at you or run over to their food dish after performing the offense.

Your cat was scared

Sometimes when you are petting your cat there may be a noise or other issue that scares them. I have found that this is the case most of the time my cats bite then lick me. Something or someone has scared them and my hand was an easy target.

There really is not much you can do in this instance to keep it from happening. However, just remember your cat didn’t mean to hurt you and it could use some more attention after the scare.

It’s playtime and you are not playing

Cats love to wrestle and play and that includes biting and licking while they do it. If they are ready to play they will go up to another cat and bit them to get them to react. This is what they will also do with you to get you to play with them.

If you have a few moments, play with your cat. This will make them happy and bring you a bit of bonding time with your cat.

Your cat is being aggressive

Your cat may just not like you, or whomever it is biting. Cats do show aggression by biting so if your cat is biting you or someone else in your home hard they may not like that person or there is a reason they are scared of that person.

Though my post: What to do about an aggressive cat after a move focuses on moving with a cat if you have an aggressive cat that is biting these tips could help you.

Your cat shows love and fear in the same way so it can really be hard to figure out why they are biting you then licking you. It does seem counter-intuitive since a bite is seen as hostile and a lick is seen as loving. However, your cat is probably just showing you they love you or are hungry.

Don’t think too much into why they do it, but be happy they are showing you affection. If you do have a more aggressive biter you may want to invest in chew toys or a trip to your vet.