Biting is a complicated subject. With cats, it can stem from aggression to self-care, and it can be positive or negative. Therefore, pinpointing a precise reason why your cat is biting your nose may require some detective work. Or it could just be because of normal cat behavior.
The 5 Reasons a Cat May Bite Your Nose
Felines can read human emotions well. They can read our body language 1 and learn their names, and they likely view humans as equals since they greet and rub up against us the same as they would a familiar cat. With that in mind, a cat might bite may lie within us and the signals we send to them.
1. Playfulness and Overstimulation
Kittens play rough sometimes, rolling and tumbling on the floor. If you pick one up after the roughhousing, they may not realize the game is over. And if you hold the kitty up to your face, your nose is the nearest point to the animal. That can also happen with an adult cat doing zoomies. Overstimulation may cause an otherwise docile pet to bite. They aren’t being mean, it’s just bad timing.
Felines are able to catch on to things pretty quickly. Just ask anyone whose cat wakes them up to eat in the morning! Cats know that specific behaviors get desirable results. When your pet nips at your nose, they may be looking for attention, a treat, or a meal. Some cats are pretty impatient and demanding.
3. Grooming Behavior
Biting is a part of grooming. Many cats take on that task with their owners. It may start as gentle licking before a nip on your hand or nose to get the job done. Again, it’s not aggressive behavior. Felines often view their family members as littermates, even if what’s normal to them is abnormal to us. Your cat may just be seeing you as a kitten or companion that needs grooming.
4. Showing Affection
That soft nip can also mean they’re showing affection. You may have noticed it when petting your cat. All seems well, and then, they bite, seemingly unprovoked. This is a behavior they engage in with other cats. Instead of getting upset, realize that your pet is showing affection for you and nurturing your bond.
Some cats are born lap animals. They sit for hours soaking up all the attention and petting you give them. However, others prefer short doses. Felines are also masters at body language. If they are reaching their tolerance limit, they’ll let you know, which could result in a nip on the nose.
Signs that you should stop what you’re doing include restlessness, tail slapping, and flattened ears. We suggest gently pulling away when you notice that they’re annoyed.
Aggression in Cats
It’s one thing for a cat to bite your nose because they’re tired or annoyed; it’s another story when it crosses the line into aggression. Several factors can cause this negative emotion. It could result from fear. A pet not used to being handled will likely fight it and maybe bite to get away. However, apparent warning signs precede it, such as hissing and growling.
Cats are notorious for hiding their pain. If your pet nips your nose, the reason may lie with something that has nothing to do with you. We recommend observing your kitty for signs of limping, excessive licking, or hair loss to determine where they hurt. Make an appointment with your vet to investigate it further.
Research suggests that declawing is associated with aggressive behavior. The scientists found that biting occurred four times more frequently in declawed cats versus animals with their claws intact. They also found further correlations between inappropriate elimination, overgrooming, and aggression. They postulated that biting compensated for the lack of defense the cats’ claws provided.
Another form of aggression also involves poor timing. Displacing behavior or redirecting occurs when an animal gets agitated by an unrelated event or stimulus, such as your cat seeing another feline outside. The aggression exists within your kitty, but woe to the person or other pet that happens to walk by when emotions are still running high. A cat usually doesn’t pick a fight but releases their tension elsewhere.
One study looked at the unintended consequences of purebred cats. Selective breeding attempts to fix desirable traits in a population. Sadly, it also results in piggyback mutations that accompany the wanted characteristics.
Other research investigated behavioral aspects, showing solid correlations between various feline breeds. The seven traits they considered included fearfulness and aggression toward humans. The Russian Blue scored highest for the former and the Turkish Van for the latter. Of course, environmental factors play a significant role. However, it’s worth noting that behavior also has a genetic component.
Your vet will likely begin by ruling out a physical cause for aggression. The study that associated declawing with aggression also noted a greater propensity for back pain in these animals. Chronic pain could certainly be an issue with a biting cat. Other things can also affect your pet’s mood, such as cognitive dysfunction and even diet. However, the effort is necessary to prevent relinquishment.
If your vet can’t determine a physical problem, they may refer you to an animal behaviorist. A cat’s intelligence can make behavior modification techniques successful. Your patience and hard work can be rewarded.
A cat biting your nose may be only a chance occurrence. Your pet may be overstimulated from play or want attention. We suggest watching your kitty’s body language. If they are overtired or annoyed, they usually signal their displeasure first. Learn to read the signs and respect your pet’s space.
If it happens frequently, we suggest discussing it with your vet to rule out physical causes. Behavior modification techniques can control the biting and improve your relationship with your feline companion.
Featured Image Credit: Julija Sulkovska, Shutterstock