Understanding Cat Play Biting

There is no cat owner who has never been playfully bitten or scratched by their cat. In fact, it is very common for cats to take a nip at the person petting or cuddling them but, what is cat biting and why do they do it? These playful bites, also known as love bites, are one way for a cat or kitten to show their owners affection.

They are usually just soft and gentle bites that are accompanied with another form of showing affection like a purr or by rubbing their bodies against yours.

Why Do Cats Playfully Bite? Understanding Cat Play Biting

Cat play biting is a pretty normal occurrence while you pet or play with your cats. It is their way of simply saying “I love you” to their human.

This is usually a sign that they are happy and pleased with that you are doing. There are some instances where you are petting your cat and you do not expect a bite but they do it and it hurts.

This may mean that you have touched a sensitive part of their body and they are warning you to stop.

Generally, the cat’s lower back near their tail is a sensitive spot. If you touch this area your cat will most likely give you a warning nip telling you not to. When they do stop touching them or the biting might escalate.

Why Do Bites Become Painful?

If you do not pay attention to the warning bite, cats may give you another bite that is harder than the last one. The most common reason playful biting turns painful is overstimulation.

Too much petting, stroking, or cuddling could be too much for your cat and they want to get out of your grasp. If you do not pay attention to their warning bites you will get a harder and more painful bite.

It is important for you, your family members, and your friends to know when your cat wants playtime to be over. If not, someone could get really hurt.

The Warning Signs

When you are petting or playing with your feline companion you can easily get distracted and not notice when they are feeling over stimulated and are preparing for a hard bite. Here are some warning signs you should take note of to avoid getting bit:

Notice the tail

A cat that is on edge will wag their tails back and forth. They can also puff up the hair on their tail when they feel agitated. If you notice this it’s time to back away from them before cat biting begins.

Take note of their body language

While you are playing and you notice that your cat starts to become tense under your touch they are preparing to strike. They may start to squirm or their skin will start twitching.

This is a clear sign that your cat has had enough cuddling or that playtime is over.

Watch their eyes

A cat will first enjoy or even instigate playtime and their pupils will dilate when they are having fun. When they start to move their head or eyes towards you and then away, and back again they are telling you that you should stop.

Pay attention to these signs and you’ll avoid getting bitten hard by your beloved cat. They may not be able to verbally communicate, but they will physically let you know.

You, as their owner, should know when enough is enough. Keep your cats happy by knowing when to call it quit during cuddling and play time.


This form of cat biting is your cat or kitten’s way of letting you know that they love you and they like spending time with you. However if those bites become aggressive, it’s important to teach your kitty that biting hard is not okay.

Be careful and loving toward your feline friend but also be stern. Let them know when their play biting becomes too rough. Back away from your cat if they appear over-stimulated and you will avoid serious injuries.

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