Cats

a woman holding up her cat, who is affectionately biting her nose
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So Here's Why Your Cat Licks & Bites Your Nose, Experts Say

Seriously, is this a normal cat thing?

Cats are beautiful and lovely companions, but some of their behaviors just feel bizarre in the human world. For example, why does my cat lick and bite my nose? Is it a regular thing, or is the cat just being a giant weirdo?

Your Cat Is Showing Affection

“There could be several reasons why cats lick and bite noses but in most cases, it’s probably a love bite with some affectionate licking mixed in,” as Dr. Georgina Ushi Phillips, DVM at Better With Cats, tells Romper. “If your cat is close enough to your nose to bite it, you’re both probably relaxing and a little nibble is how many cats choose to show their love. This is especially true if it’s a slow, gentle bite.” It’s a common bonding behavior in the feline world, as one way cats show affection is through grooming activities. “Licking and nipping is how they groom other cats they are friendly with!” as Dr. Mikel (Maria) Delgado, Cat Behavior Expert with Rover, tells Romper. However, your cat might not understand that those “friendly” bites may not feel so great to human skin, as Dr. Phillips further explains.

Why do they focus on the nose, though? This isn’t clear, but it may simply be the most prominent feature from a cat’s perspective, says Dr. Phillips.

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Your Cat Wants Attention

“For other cats these behaviors may be a playful way to get attention - but you may find it annoying,” says Dr. Delgado. To be fair, nose biting is an effective way to grab somebody’s immediate attention.

How To Discourage Your Cat From Nipping & Biting

If you (understandably) want to discourage the biting behaviors, then here’s some expert advice. “Be sure to play with your cat ONLY with toys, not your hands, so she learns that toys, not human body parts, are for biting,” says Dr. Delgado, who adds that excessive licking can be deterred by placing a little bitter apple spray on your skin. (Bitter Apple is a pet-safe but very bad-tasting spray that can discourage biting or chewing behaviors.) “When you are petting and cuddling with your cat, encourage her to stay in your lap rather than get too close to your face. If she gets too close to your face, gently stand up so she has to get off your lap.” With a little redirection, your nosey cat can start finding different ways to express affection or get your attention.

Experts:

Dr. Georgina Ushi Phillips, DVM at Better With Cats

Dr. Mikel (Maria) Delgado, Cat Behavior Expert with Rover