Hepper is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you. Learn more.

6 Reasons Why Cats Nibble On You (Love Bites)

Nicole Cosgrove Profile Picture

By Nicole Cosgrove

red domestic cat bites owners hand

Have you ever noticed that your cat will sometimes put its teeth on you when you are in the middle of petting it? In these situations, there aren’t usually other signs of aggression such as hissing or clawing, and it may happen when you are stroking your kitty. If your cat has ever given you a “love bite,” you are probably wondering what the reason for this behavior is. After all, there is usually no obvious impetus for biting and it normally does not break any skin.

Keep reading to learn about a few reasons why your cat may nibble on you in this way.

The 6 Reasons Why Cats Nibble On You

1. It’s a sign of affection.

Perhaps this is the most obvious reason; after all, the behavior is called “love biting”!

While you may not be used to the idea that biting could be a signal of affection, for your cat, it’s totally normal. Your pet is acknowledging you and your interaction at a new level, they may even want to play a bit. Keep in mind that biting is not always a sign of affection, however; the other items on this list can help shed some light on other reasons why your cat may nibble on your fingers or other parts of your body.

cat bitting mans finger
Image Credit: Piqsels

2. Your cat wants you to stop petting it.

Cats are funny animals. They enjoy pets until they don’t. Even if your cat likes being pet in general, it may simply be trying to tell you that it has had enough of the interaction or that it isn’t in the mood for pets right now. It could be that you are stroking your cat too much, too aggressively, or too quickly. If you are interacting with a new cat, it might be a good idea to start out slow to get a sense of its body language whenever you pet it to better understand what your cat likes and doesn’t like.

cat nibbling on humans hand
Image Credit: Vicrain, Pixabay

3. Your cat wants you to stop petting a particular area of its body.

It may be that your cat simply doesn’t want you to pet a particular part of its body. Most cats prefer to be scratched under their chins and behind their ears as opposed to on their lower bodies, on their bellies, and around their tails. Does the behavior occur when you are petting your cat’s belly? If so, try switching to its ears or another area you typically pet and see if the nibbling stops.

cat laying on owners lap
Image Credit: Impact Photography, Shutterstock

4. Your kitten is teething.

If you have a kitten or a very young cat, the nibbling could be a result of teething. Just like human children, kittens lose their baby teeth to make room for adult teeth. Kittens usually get their baby teeth between 2 and 6 weeks of age, while the adult teeth usually come in between 3 and 7 months of age. Chewing on various objects is a sign of teething, along with drooling, increased vocalization, and decreased appetite.

kitten chewing finger
Image Credit: XINN, Shutterstock

5. It may be a way to relieve stress.

Like humans, cats can feel tense or experience stress. If it is feeling stressed, it may turn to comfort mechanisms. For some cats, chewing or nibbling softly on their owners may help relieve stress, similar to how a human child might suck on its thumb.

cat chewing finger
Image Credit: Bogdan Sonjachnyj, Shutterstock

6. Your cat wants your attention.

Whether they want food or it simply wants love, your cat might just want to get your attention. Set aside some time to interact with your cat on a daily basis so that it gets plenty of play and human interaction time. You might even take love bites as an indication that your cat would like to engage you in a game of hide and seek, or rather, cat and mouse.


It can be confusing when your cat starts nibbling on your hand, but there are usually other signs that can hint at what your cat is trying to tell you. If your cat is also vocalizing, scratching, or otherwise displaying aggressive behavior, back off for a while and give your cat some space. Do not spray, shake, or otherwise further startle your cat, as this could lead to further aggressive behavior.

Featured Image Credit: Irzhanova Asel, Shutterstock

Related Articles

Further Reading

Vet Articles

Latest Vet Answers

The latest veterinarians' answers to questions from our database