Why Does My Cat Lick Me Then Bite Me?

Why Does My Cat Lick Me Then Bite Me
Image: istockphoto.com / luliia Alekseeva

Your cat may lick and bite you as a way to bond by grooming you, showing affection, or as an invitation for playtime. She may also be licking and biting you to show that she’s had enough of your attention and it is her way of telling you to stop petting her. 

Why does my cat lick me and then bite me?

Here are five common ones why your cat licks and then bites:

1. Your cat wants to bond with you by grooming you. 

Cats normally lick their fur when grooming themselves. They usually do the grooming process by biting their fur to remove tangles and then licking it afterward to finish it off. Similarly, they may also lick their fur first and do some nips or little bites on particular parts of their body. 

This particular cat behavior extends to their favored humans. Your cat may lick your at your hair or elsewhere and then bite you or vice versa because, like her siblings, she is grooming you as a way of strengthening your bond and relationship.  

2. Your cat is showing you affection. 

This is a way for a cat to show her affection for you.  It means your cat is comfortable, relaxed, and contented in your presence. Along with her intention to groom you, her behavior signifies that she is happy and feels a deep connection with you. 

3. Your cat may be telling you that she wants to play with you.

As complex and mysterious as they are, cats have amusing ways to communicate with their owners. Your cat may invite and initiate playtime by licking and then biting you. How do you know she is in a playful mood? Look for cues like ears and whiskers that point forward, with the tail up, and the pupils somewhat dilated. Your cat may also walk with an arched back, act like it is stalking prey, and may crouch with its rear end slightly raised.

By licking and biting you gently, your cat is telling you that you are her best friend and she is in the mood for playtime. 

4. Your cat may be telling you to stop giving her physical attention. 

 Your cat may be telling you to stop giving her physical attention. 
Image: istockphoto.com / Amphawan Chanunpha

Cats love playtime with their humans and it is a great way to bond. However, cats also have mood swings and if you become overly aggressive in playing and petting her she may feel agitated. Overstimulation happens when a cat’s sensitive body part is touched accidentally or repeatedly. Your cat may lick and then give you a gentle bite to signify that she wants to take a break and for you to stop giving her physical attention. 

These are some of the signs that your cat is overstimulated:

  • your cat may ripple her tail 
  • her ears are flicking back and forth 
  • her ears will flatten against her head 

5. Your cat may be stressed. 

Some cats are prone to stress and even aggression. This is manifested through signs like biting and excessive licking. Your cat may be licking and then biting you because she may be stressed and anxious.  Other cat breeds like the Siamese may tend to chew things more than others and this may extend to your hands.  If you suspect that your cat’s peculiar behavior is due to stress, consult your vet for the proper treatment. Also, CBD oil such as Chill Paws helps to lessen stress and behavioral issues with cats.

Why does it hurt when my cat licks me?

You may feel uncomfortable each time your cat licks you especially if she is excessively licking a particular part of your hand or face.  This is because of the back-facing barbs or spines in her tongue called papillae. It is scoop-shaped and hollow which allows it to store and hold saliva. 

The discomfort you feel may be due to the sandpaper-like sensation when your cat’s tongue brushes against your skin. The barbs help remove dirt from a cat’s coat which is why it has to be sharp so that cats may be able to keep themselves clean. 


Cats communicate with their owners through various body language and behaviors and one way of doing so is by licking and biting you. Your cat may lick and bite you as an invitation for playtime and to show affection. It may also mean that she is overstimulated and wants to take a break. However, it may also signify that she is stressed and you should bring her to the vet at once for prompt treatment.