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"Love Bites"?

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 
My cat, Shadow, has been with me since she was a three month old kitten. I rescued her from a barn where her and her siblings had been born. She is a sweet and playful little girl, and still acts very much like a kitten.

Every once and awhile, she'll be lying next to me, swishing the tip of her tail lazily, eyes partially closed, purring. I'll be petting her, and she will start to lick me, then, ever so gently, take my skin in her teeth and just hold it there for a minute. She doesnt bite down, and it never hurts.

I'm just curious why she does this, what message it conveys, and if anyone else has experienced this strange little 'love nibble'.
post #2 of 16
It's the way cats grab hold of each other and/or carry mice and stuff. Mother holding kitties. Kitties holding each other. The cat being held can't move. The holding kitty learns how hard to not bite.

Unfortunately, you really want to stay completely away from biting play with kittens. It's cute and cuddly now. It's not so cute and cuddly when your five year old cat grabs hold of you with its very sharp, very powerful teeth.

Give 'em some fuzzy mice to play with. Say "no" and put an immediate end to biting play on you.
post #3 of 16
Thread Starter 
Well thats the thing. She IS five years old now. I probably should have mentioned that in the first place. Its just something shes picked up in the past couple years. I highly discouraged biting when she was little: I'd pick her up, set her down, and ignore her if she bit me when she was little.

But now, like i said... shes VERY gentle about it, even in sensitive spots, like the inside of my wrist, or even my cheek.
post #4 of 16
Two of my friends cats are about 12 and still give love bites, so i dont think it much of ana ge thing.

Holly is a bitter and kitty is a scratcher, if anything.
post #5 of 16
Ha! Marmalade likes to chew gently on my fingers if she thinks I've overslept and it's time for a petting!

post #6 of 16
Linus likes to lick my nose about 20 times, then gently bites. I call it a love nip. I would never want him to stop, it is too cute.
post #7 of 16
I have a very similar problem and I can't seem to break it. My little neutered boy is about 7 months old. He's very friendly and purrs, and he loves to sit in my lap, which I'm not crazy about because I work with my computer in my lap. The problem is that if I stop petting him and reach around his head to type, he will bite my hand or arm. Basically anytime he sees flesh in front of his nose he bites, and I'm sure it's instinctive. He will continue to do it even when he knows he's in big trouble. I throw him off me and he gets really sad and sits on the floor quietly for a while.

Anyway it seems like it's a reaction that he can't really control. So will he outgrow it or am I just going to have to live with it?
post #8 of 16
my cats do it all the time. i would not worry about unless they start to bite to which case yell NO! and put them down. in time they will get the message.

sometimes, i would hiss at them when bitting to hard, if they still would not stop when told no. I dont mind them playing rough, just so there is no blood. Only time now that there is human blood , is when i forget to trim there claws.

you can also watch for the warning signs, like the tail moving real fast.
is a sure sign that kitty has had enough petting.
post #9 of 16
Originally Posted by skinnycat75 View Post
Linus likes to lick my nose about 20 times, then gently bites. I call it a love nip. I would never want him to stop, it is too cute.
Sport does the same thing. It is indeed, the cutest thing
post #10 of 16
I've noticed Amy has given me love bites a few times. I know it's out of love, but it can get really aggressive to the point where petting the cat is almost impossible because they now see your hand as a toy and they think it's play time.

Upon being 'love bitten' I say in a assertive voice "No!", and I mist her with the water bottle. Then I ignore her for 5 minutes (no eye contact). If a water bottle is not available you can also lift the cat (if the cat is not heavy) by the back of the neck to your face level and say, "No!" A stern quiet voice will do. That way they'll take the word "No" seriously, and the the 'volume' "No."

If you let it get out of control you won't be able to pet the cat at all. That would be horrible for them and you.
post #11 of 16
I think that's a pretty extreme outlook, especially since it's clear just in this thread that it's very common and hasn't led to terrible cats that can't be petted. Though I do think it's a legit concern.

Madonna (god i hate that name for my foster) does this too. infact, I started noticing she does it to her kittens too. She'll be licking them and cleaning them off, open her mouth as wide as she can, and usually gets the whole torso in her mouth, then just stops and starts licking again. the kittens don't even budge so she's definitely not hurting them. it startles me, or at least it did in the beginning, but it doesn't hurt.
post #12 of 16
My cat has "love bitten" since a kitten, she will never stop, but i think it can be that the cat smells a perfume or soap smell that it likes because it loves my nebors arms it will cling to their arm and suck their finger even if they lift their arm!
post #13 of 16
I think if you look around the forums a while you will find that many of us have kitties who give "love bites." It is pretty natural behavior from what I've seen with my three sibling kittens. They do this to each other when they are grooming one another, but it's not meant to hurt...maybe just to say "hold still a minute, will ya?" Max is my big lover boy, and he is the one most prone to nibble at my fingers, even my chin, nose or ears. He is usually gentle, but if he does start to hurt me I just move him off my lap and firmly say "no" in a low voice. Since your cat is an adult and has gradually formed this habit over the years, and since she never hurts you, I'd say not to worry about it. She is perfectly normal, and she obviously loves you bunches!
post #14 of 16
Shareena does this sometimes. I always thought it was because she was taken from her mother too soon and hadn't been properly socialized. When she bites my hand I grab her by the back of the neck with my other hand, make her look me in the eye, and say, "No bites." Then she very carefully opens her mouth just enough so she's still holding onto my hand but not putting any pressure on it with her teeth. She'll stay still like that for 10-15 seconds, then go back to licking my hand or tilt her head back so I can scratch under her chin.

Her littermate, Miss Patchwillow, whom I got about 6 weeks later than Shareena, has never bitten me.
post #15 of 16
hey, my little girl is exactly the same! no harm done, just make sure they realise what's hard and what's not.... pretty funny really, they are so fickle
post #16 of 16
I'm so glad someone posted this. We have a 1 1/2 year old cat who we adopted when he was 5 months old. His foster mom said he liked to bite ears occasionally. Well, he doesn't bite ears..he bites our faces, especially our chins. When he is on our lap he is trying to bite our chins. When we let him in the bedroom in the morning he will stop at nothing to get at our chins. We have to laugh about it because he is so determined to bite our chins. We have tried everything to make him stop but he thinks we're just playing with him more.

He is such a sweet cat and we know he is not biting to be vicious. The bites never draw blood but he teeth are sharp and it does hurt a bit. He loves to cuddle and loves to lay and sit with people but the chin biting is out of control. I'm glad to see we're not the only ones.
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