Cats nipping

This article is about cats that nip or softly bite. We also have an article about catnip you can check out if that is what you are looking for. 

 Have you ever been petting your cat and then they softly bite you?  That is the most common time I've been nipped by my cats. It's not a hard bite, and not enough to break the skin, just more of a grazing of the teeth against my hand. When I've felt that, it seems to mean that they are done with being petted. I have learned to take the hint and remove my hand when this happens to keep them from having to tell me more forcefully that they don't want more pets! 

But, do cats bite to show affection? 

According to, yes! If your cat softly bites you while cuddling together or it could be reminiscent of cuddling with their mother, who would lick and nibble them during grooming. 

If you have cats nipping you when you're not cuddling or playing, it could be that they are trying to get your attention. The notes that if a cat gently bites you and then leads you to an activity like a toy or maybe an empty food dish, they were probably trying to get your attention. 

 Another reason a cat might bite which might get to be a little harder than just a nip is that they get carried away playing. An indoor cat will have limited opportunities to practice biting live prey, so if you are playing with them with your hands, they might get substituted for prey during their play "hunt". It's a good idea to play with your cats, but to save your hands, get some toys, like a wand with feathers or a stuffed animal on the end for your cat to scratch and bite, instead of your hand! If a cat does bite during play, try not to pull away quickly, because that just stimulates their hunting instinct to bite more! 

The SprucePets also notes that a sometimes a cats biting is because they want to stop you from an unwanted activity, especially if biting has worked for them in the past. The example they give is that a cat might bite to stop you from trimming their claws, especially if they have bit before and that made you stop the trimming! 

Luckily, theSprucePets also offers suggestions to train your cat not to bite. Avoid physical punishment of a cat who bites, because that is likely to make them more aggressive! Instead, they suggest offering treats to your cat to award them for not biting. The example, they give is that if your over excited cat tends to bite at your feet when you enter a room, instead train them to sit and offer a treat when they do that instead of biting. Using a clicker you can also train your cat to associate the sound of the clicker with a treat instead of giving them a treat each time. 

Cats have long fangs, so if you have been bitten by a cat hard enough to puncture the skin, it's important to take care of it, even if your cat has all their shots! 

Wikihow has a good article on what to do if you have been bitten by a cat. 

If you have a minor cat bite, you can wash it with soap and water and squeeze it to get blood flowing and help flush out any bacteria. They also say to use alcohol or hydrogen peroxide to disinfect a shallow bite and then using an antibiotic cream and covering it with a band aid. 

For more serious bites that include deep punctures from a cat's fangs, are on joints or ligaments or won't stop bleeding, see a doctor! You can get an infection from a cat bite, so a doctor can also help you determine if you might need any antibiotics, or even vaccines. If it is your cat, you can check on their vaccination status, but if you have been bitten by a stray cat or unknown cat, your doctor might want to vaccinate you for rabies or tetanus. 

We here at hope that you don't have to deal with such a serious bite from a cat, and just have to deal with more playful nibbles from your cat! Cat nips can be a sign of affection or a warning to stop doing something they don't like, but if they are becoming hard enough to break the skin, some training should help your cat learn not to bite! 

And finally a big thanks to Herman Delgado on Unsplash for the photo!

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