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Nathalie Sari - Tiertraining & Verhaltensberatung

This article was written by TOBALIE in cooperation with Nathalie Sari - Tiertraining & Verhaltensberatung

You’ve made yourself really comfortable and your cat is keeping you company. She snuggles up to you and enjoys every touch. She purrs so strongly that you think you have a small vibrating plate lying on you. She seems extremely satisfied, but out of nowhere you are suddenly bitten lightly on the hand. At first you might wonder what you did wrong, but it could just be a sign of heartfelt love. What are cat love bites all about?

What are cat love bites?

Why do cats bite us when they want to show us their affection? Quite simply, it is an instinct and can be traced back to the mating behaviour of cats. Especially during the act of love, tender to slightly painful bites are distributed. 

Similar feelings can then be awakened during tender cuddling with your pet. Charged energies are then discharged through a gentle bite. It can be understood as an act of excess by your cat, but more as a sign of affection. 

Difference to real cat bites

Love bites are usually tender nibbles, but real cat bites can be very painful. So the good news is that not every bite from your cat automatically has to mean a declaration of war against you. The less good news, not every light bite is to be interpreted as an indication of love. Here it depends on the context, on the whole situation. 

Basically, however, you can say that a cat that is obviously relaxed and completely at ease has no reason to want to bite you with malicious intent. Real cat bites usually announce themselves. Since you probably know your cat best, you will quickly be able to tell the difference between “a sign of deepest connectedness” and “stop, no further from here”.

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Cat love bites or already declaration of war?  

How can you tell the difference? Unfortunately, there is no generally valid recipe for this. Each situation should be considered individually. However, you can tell a lot from your cat’s body language, including when you should distance yourself:

  • If your pet pushes you away with its paw or even scratches you, this is usually not a good sign.
  • If the tail whips around, you should also keep your distance.
  • Putting the ears back can also be an indication of “hands off”.  

What could be the reason why your darling suddenly starts biting during a harmless cuddle?

  • If very playful cats bite their hands while being petted, this can be interpreted as a request to play. 
  • Unneutered male cats could be sexually aroused by certain touches, especially on the belly, and then bite harder. 
  • A sensitive area has been touched. Especially the belly and the paws are particularly sensible to many cats.
  • Small injuries have been touched. In general, the animal may be in pain.
  • Boredom and stress.
  • Your pet has been frightened.
  • Too much closeness. Your cat may be feeling crowded.

Do you want to quit the love bites?

As long as it doesn’t bother you and the bites are not too painful, there is no need to do anything. If your love-crazed cat does mean it too well, the behaviour can be stopped. 

By saying a loud “NO” after a bite and stopping petting for about 30 seconds, your kitten will learn not to bite in the future. Likewise, you can offer your cat a toy to bite into when you notice that she is in a “biting mood”. This will teach her where he can bite instead of your hand.

If the cat gets too excited, it is also a good idea to distract her with a game or a round of treat hunting to bring calm back into the situation. 

Important: In general, you should teach your young kitten that human hands are not chewing sticks. If you often fight with your cat’s hands, don’t be surprised if she bites your hands while cuddling. Cats have a hard time telling when it’s allowed and when it’s not. 

If you don’t want to be bitten, offer your cat an alternative, such as a toy that she can bite into. If you always say no, frustration can quickly arise, as your cat does not understand what it is doing wrong and what it should do instead.


Cat love bites are definitely not a myth. It is part of the cat’s behaviour to express affection in very cuddly moments. So if your cat gently bites your finger while cuddling, it doesn’t have to mean anything negative. Rather, such a love bite means the deepest attachment to you.