She’s trying to tell you something!
It’s no secret that cats are peculiar creatures, and their behavior can seem odd. Sometimes I watch my own cat, Libby, as she is running erratically around the bedroom at midnight or trying to dive into the fish tank to “catch” my fish and think, you are so weird.
One strange behavior that most cats possess is nose biting. You’re just sitting there on your couch, binge-watching your favorite Netflix series, and your cat jumps up on your lap, looks you straight in the eye, and takes a bite of your nose, with no warning whatsoever!
Truthfully, there are dozens of reasons why your cat may bite your nose, and since we can’t directly ask them why they do it, we have to speculate and consult experts in cat psychology.
Here are nine possible reasons why your cat may be biting your nose, but keep in mind, there are a dozen more reasons that we probably don’t even know about.
Six reasons Why your Cat bites your Nose
1. Territorial Behavior
Cats are notoriously territorial, especially around other cats or animals. If you have added another cat or dog to your family, your cat will start acting strange since the new family members trigger her territorial instincts.
Since cats have scent glands all over their bodies, by biting your nose, they are spreading their scent on you, their owner, thus claiming “their territory.” This helps reassure them that you are theirs!
One other point is that unneutered male cats are extremely territorial, so if your cat is not neutered, you may want to consider this procedure.
2. “Cleaning” Purposes
Cats are clean animals that spend hours grooming themselves and others. This is why most cat owners don’t need to bathe their cats regularly. Everything you eat leaves a long-lasting scent, whether you realize it or not, and your cat, having the keen sense of smell that she has, will try to “clean” off the scent, which can result in biting your nose.
With sensations coming at them from all angles or too much petting and attention, sometimes cats are overstimulated. This is when they may act erratically and do weird things like biting your nose. When your cat is overstimulated, they may flick or switch their tail or rotate their ears back or to the sides. If you know your cat is overstimulated, take a step back and give her some time to decompress and relax.
4. Attention-Seeking Behavior
Like dogs, sometimes cats like to roughhouse, especially when they are young. Smaller nose bites are a way to let you know they want your attention. Of course, the way you react either reinforces or discourages this behavior, so make sure you know how you want to address it.
If you laugh and give your kitty attention after she bites your nose, she will continue to bite your nose when she needs your attention.
Sometimes cat bites are a form of aggression; male cats are especially prone to this. Aggressive cat bites are obviously that–and these bites are significantly harder than love bites or attention-seeking bites. Other than biting, cat signs of aggression include dilated eyes, a stiff posture, pinned back ears, and a growling noise.
If your cat bites you out of aggression, you need to address this behavior right away. Keep reading this article for tips.
If your cat breaks the skin, make sure you treat the wound right away. Wash it with soap and water and apply an antibiotic treatment. Keep an eye on it to make sure it doesn’t get infected.
A soft nip or bite may be your cat’s way of showing affection, since they can’t tell you how they feel about you. Kitten nose bites are cute. Adult cat nose bites can be painful! If a cat is showing affection through a “love bite,” they will also be purring to show that they are happy, content, and playful.
How do I Train my Cat to stop Biting?
Depending on why your cat is biting your nose, there are several things you can do to help deter this behavior. It is easier to teach a kitten not to bite, so if you have a kitten who bites your nose, start training her now. I know it’s cute when a kitten bites, but those teeth grow and become sharper, and when she’s older, it’s not cute anymore.
The key is to be consistent in stopping negative behaviors and reinforcing good behaviors. Whenever your cat bites you, shout “No!” and then walk away and ignore him for a while. Cats are sensitive to sound, especially the sound of your voice, so pretty soon they should understand this reinforcement.
You could also try blowing in your cat’s face whenever she bites you. Cats don’t like this, and it will help reinforce that biting is not OK.
A lot of cat owners will spray their cats with a water bottle to stop negative behavior, but studies have shown that this technique can traumatize cats and not effective as negative reinforcement.
Learn to recognize the warning signs if there are any. If you can tell your cat is overstimulated, leave him alone for a while.
Praise and reward your cat for good behavior. Give her a treat after petting her, which will reinforce that petting her is positive.
So, your cat climbs up on your lap and bites your nose. First, try to understand the “why.” Is she overwhelmed? Is she marking her territory, so to speak? Is she showing you that she loves you?
Then, decide your reaction. Make sure you are consistent in the way you react. It’s not fair to laugh at your cat for biting your nose one day and then yell at her the next. This inconsistency is too confusing for her.
The good news is that if you are persistent, your kitten or cat will probably outgrow his nippy tendencies.
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