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Old 12-05-2008, 10:42 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Cat Gently Bites Hand, then Licks - What's Up?

Hi there - hoping someone can explain this behavior that our cat exhibits with all of us.

With me, she'll be laying beside me. I'll be petting/scratching her on the head or around the neck and she seems to be enjoying it. In mid-pet, she'll put her paws (no claws extended) around my hand or wrist and put her mouth around the hand or wrist. She won't bite, although you can feel the teeth. When she does it, I generally say in a soft sing-songy voice "No biting." I don't remove my hand or make any jerky motions. Then she'll begin to lick in the area where she's put her mouth. She won't move away. Then I'll pet her again later, and it might continue, might not.

With my husband, he'll generally pet her in mid play. She'll do the the same thing, but then take off to play somewhere else. He doesn't say anything negative to her.

Is she trying to tell us not to pet her?

Thanks in advance - still trying to figure our little creature.
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Old 12-05-2008, 01:18 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: Cat Gently Bites Hand, then Licks - What's Up?

Quote:
Originally Posted by cmw0829
Is she trying to tell us not to pet her?
I think so.

Because you say she is enjoying being pet and loved on, then she grabs the hand/wrist and holds it still in a gentle bite with her mouth, I think she is telling you to stop. Even the gentle bite to stop the hand from petting her when she is playing and her leaving to continue her play, is telling you to not pet her, let her play.
There are probably other signs she is giving and you are not 'seeing' what she is telling you, and only 'hear' her when she bites to hold you still. Ears back at all? Tail sort of wisking around or even just twitching? Rippling her fur where you've pet her? These are all signs that the cat is begining to show annoyance and wants to be left alone. If those signs are ignored, then they try to communicate with stronger signals (biting).

There is another time when cats 'bite' that does not mean 'leave me alone' and it is when they are grooming each other and they will occasionally bite/hold and then lick some more. It is a 'stay still' reminder as they groom each other. They will also do this with petting hands. Sometimes they are encouraging your hand to groom them (like them licking their paw and rubbing it over their ears) and sometimes they seem to be 'apologizing' for asking you to stop petting. As you spend more time with your cat and get to know them better, you'll learn what they mean when they 'say' things to you.
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Old 12-05-2008, 02:14 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Cat Gently Bites Hand, then Licks - What's Up?

I've heard sometimes that they will bite when the petting feels so good that the pleasure suddenly overcomes their senses and *CHOMP* My Nito will do this to me- I'll be petting him, and all of a sudden he wraps his paws around and bites, and occasionally kicks a little. I do the same thing that you do, holding my hand still and gently saying "Hey. Don't bite mommy." and he will lick as if to apologize. If I stop petting at that point, he'll get up and nudge my hand with his nose or paw until I pet him again, at which point he lays down and rolls onto his back once more, so he obviously wasn't done with the petting.

Just listen to Heidi, she knows all look for signs that she wants you to stop, or maybe something else. You'll get to know what your cat means soon enough. She's licking you after she does it, so at least she isn't trying to be mean about it!
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Old 12-05-2008, 02:42 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: Cat Gently Bites Hand, then Licks - What's Up?

A couple of my cats do this as well! I think they are "love nips" that is what I have read anyway
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Old 12-05-2008, 02:52 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: Cat Gently Bites Hand, then Licks - What's Up?

That's what they are---love bites. Cats are the only animal that do this.

The bite with the kicking is a play bite. That is the kind that should be stopped.
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Old 12-05-2008, 02:56 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: Cat Gently Bites Hand, then Licks - What's Up?

I'm not too worried about stopping it. Nito is nearly full grown, and he never bites hard or kicks hard. He doesn't even use his claws. I personally don't mind physically letting my cat wrestle my arm as long as he retains control over the force/amount of claws he uses. All of my cats are allowed to play this way, and none of them have ever gotten too aggressive about it. When they were younger, they would sometimes get rude about it, but then I would end the game and they learned soon enough what mommy's limit was.
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Old 12-05-2008, 02:58 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: Cat Gently Bites Hand, then Licks - What's Up?

Thanks for the great replies. You guys are awesome. I'll keep my eyes open to her signals.

Cathy
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Old 12-06-2008, 04:26 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: Cat Gently Bites Hand, then Licks - What's Up?

I'd say it's a "stop please" bite, he is being very gentle which is good. try to watch and stop before he bites. If he wants more he'll probably ask for it. Neko does love nips but they are very different from stop please bites. He is usually rubbing his head on me when he opens his mouth and chomps. He does not hold, he actually pulls up the skin. He is usually very overstimulated to the point where he is purring like a boat, rubbing me all over, second eyelids half closed etc. very over stimulated. of course this will vary with each cat.
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