Can Kitty's Nips Be Affection?

Yesterday was the one-month anniversary of my adopting Poppy (no pics, I’m mad at her right now), a feral kitty that had been fostered for about three months and is now 8 months old, we think.

She’s adapting nicely, venturing further and further into the hubbub of the household. She responds very well to human affection; loves scritches and such. During a scritch session on Saturday when I stopped the scritch and left my hand near her, she bit me. Not hard, but it was a bite and when I confronted her on it she hid behind the toilet and snarled and hissed at me. WTF? We go from her purring as loud as a washing machine to biting and hissing. She’s done this a few times. I’m baffled. She’s done it with Hub as well. She’s tried to swipe at the kids but no bites. I have two small kids, who may have been tormenting her, we don’t know. I do try to make them be quiet and slow and gentle with her. I’ve been nothing but loving.

All on her own she comes to me in the mornings, not just for food but for love too. She jumps on my lap, lays across the desk so I can’t see the monitor, weaves in and out of my legs, etc.

Why the hell is she biting me? Is she mad I stopped the scritching? It was such a 180 that I just got pissed and left her alone.

Any ideas? Experiences? Will this naughty behavior go away? I really don’t want to fall deeply in love with some little bitch that only tolerates me for the room and board.

As always, TIA!

What do you think a cat is? :smiley:

Usually they’re pink or brown.

My oldest gets overstimulated when we scratch her due to skin allergies and will bite lightly when she’s had enough.

Our cat will give us what we call “love bites”. He’ll be totally happy and purring, then he’ll give us a soft bite but he will remain happy and purring and goofy. Usually it means he wants more of whatever attention he was getting that we stopped.

Your cat sounds like she gave you a love bite but then thought you were confronting her in some way. Next time you get a love bite try giving her more attention and see what happens.

We have had one other cat who would do this so it might be a universal cat signal.

I have a kitty that hates to be held, isn’t nuts about being petted, but loves to be the center of attention. I think she’s autistic. I don’t think she hates people, but you have to catch her at just the right time or she’ll bite (not real hard) or swat at ya. It blows, too, because she’s so damned cute.

See? Cute, but you can tell she’s a little deranged just by looking at her.

You’ve never had a girlfriend? :smiley:

My cat will nip gently when play-fighting (I roll her on her back and grab her neck gently, and she grabs my wrist in her paws and gnaws lightly on my hand). If you were petting your cat and she nipped, it might have been a “hey you stopped!” or “that’s enough petting right now” or “let’s wrestle”. When you confronted her she probably didn’t understand why you were mad and got scared. Cats play by biting and wrestling all the time, and if you haven’t been careful to teach them “no biting people ever” they will play-bite people like they play-bite with other cats. (And if you do want to teach them “no biting ever”, don’t smack them when they bite or they’ll get scared and bite harder–yelp like you’ve been hurt, still your hand (if you move it away they’ll think you’re playing) and if they still don’t release distract them so they let go or move your hand gently towards their mouth. Me, I don’t mind gentle bites and have only trained my cats to not bite beyond gentle nips)

8 months is still a little bit of crazy kittenhood. It sounds like she almost certainly wasn’t trying to be aggressive.

I’ve known many cats to give the old “love bite” - it never hurts. Trust me, if they had any intention of hurting you with that bite, they could have done it. Often, the little nibbles occur during a petting or playing session. It sometimes means different things for different cats (stop, keep going, you taste good, etc) but as long as they’re not breaking skin (or obviously trying to), it’s probably just a sign of affection.

You say you got angry, and that the cat hissed and hid from you. If I’m reading this correctly: they really do sense your mood change, and if you get angry, it can send them running, confused as to what went wrong. A feral cat can take a very long time to shake that gut instinct to protect itself when it senses anger/danger. We are bigger than them, and a threat when we’re angry, even if we’ve never laid a hand on them. We’re giants to them, and who wants to anger a giant? Even if we’ve been the gentlest giants around, it can still be very confusing to them when we get angry.
Both of my cats understand immediately when they’ve done something wrong. I will hear a CRASH! and one of them, usually Bastian, comes running out to where I am, spots me, senses my irritation, then runs screaming under the bed. (no joke, that girl can scream!) And I’ve never laid a hand on that fool in my life other than to pet her lovingly, yet she knows I’m angry and that’s she’s in trouble. I used a little toy squirt gun to train them, so that’s probably what she thinks is going to happen. The worst I’ve ever done to them since they grew out of kittenhood was keep them out of the room they caused trouble in for a while, and that is often punishment enough (what cat tolerates a closed door? The horror!)

Anyway, here I go rambling. If you’d like to try to discourage the biting, next time it happens in a petting session, remain calm, try not to be irritated, and tap the cat on the nose, and say firmly, “NO.” Patience and time.

Ferals can be quite a handful. It sounds like you’ve been doing a great job. :slight_smile:

My cat used to do the same thng, the nibble was his sign that he was done with me and was ready to head off and find something more interesting to occupy his time.

I concur with everyone who is saying that it’s almost certainly a play-bite or a love-bite, but kitty just doesn’t understand how rough she can be with people yet. I just had three feral rescues who all took some time to learn how to play with humans. Yelping (not yelling) did help me a lot, I think since that’s how kittens tell each other they’re being too rough. Two kittens learned pretty quickly to bite gently, but the third (honestly, I believe) kept forgetting not to be rough. He was always sorry, though: when he would bite my hand too hard, he would immediately stop playing and start licking me as if in apology. He eventually figured it out, though. Give kitty a little more time to learn.

And good on you for adopting a feral rescue kitty. You’re doing a good thing.

We’ve had Nomar for a year and a half now. He was about 6 months old when we got him.

He still doesn’t really enjoy being petted; you always have to watch him very closely, no absent-minded stroking while you’re reading a book, for example.

Yet he is affectionate in his own way - he likes to be wherever we are, and if we go away for the night, he is very happy to see us.

I think he just finds petting too stimulating, so we respect that and for the most part, we leave him alone.

Plus we have a border collie who we could pet 24/7 and she would STILL not get enough attention, so it all works out. :slight_smile:

I agree. The cat wants you to continue. Doesn’t mean you have to put up with it. I usually yell OW and thump the cat on the head like I’m testing melons. Don’t bother chasing the cat. Hissing is a defensive act (the cat is afraid) so even if you weren’t going to enroll the animal in cat-astronaut school it will be perceived as such. Cats don’t respond well to any kind of punishment and repeated confrontations will get you a psycho cat.

I’ve never met a cat that didn’t like back rubs. It usually takes a week to get them use to it. Neither of my cats like me to reach over their head to do it and will retract out of habit but if I reach from behind they don’t think twice about it.

And if you want to see a cat melt in your lap then massage their ears. Again, it may take a week for them to get use to it but both my cats actually look like their going to fall asleep the second I start doing it.

My little boy loves to have his head rubbed, and rub his head on everything. He also like to gnaw on things, and give love bites. They don’t hurt and they aren’t intended to break skin or anything. He’s just kinda oral. He learned early on that love biting my knees tickles like a mother fucker, and whenever he really wants me to do something he gnaws on my knees.

My Buffy will nip at my arms or legs if I’m not petting her. She mostly does this when she catches you in the bathroom-she tends to follow you in and when you stop petting her, she nips your legs. Annoys the hell out of me, but she’s not viscious.

We had a mean kitty. She calmed down and become fairly standoffish-mom like (though she was never a mom) after she was a couple years old. But for the first couple of years…

“Oh hello mister German Shepard, I see you have been sleeping there for some time. It must be nice and warm.” MREOWR HKKHHKSSSS AR AR AR AR The dog goes fleeing off while the kitty takes over the warm spot.

You couldn’t go within claws reach to pick her up, pet her or nothing.

Except for Noel, none of cats really like to be held. Buffy and Misty will tolerate it, Gypsy will growl, and Maggie will kick and squirm like crazy to get away.

Piper Grace, on the rare occassion we can catch her (she’s extremely shy and usually runs away), sort of cowers in your arms.

But Noel likes to be held and cuddled. She also likes it if you’re wearing a long shirt, so you can “bundle” her in it, by pulling up the hem and wrapping her up in it.

Our oldest cat, Midnight, does this. Her bite doesn’t seem to be a lobe bite. I suspect she gets overstimulated and starts biting reflexively. I yell at her and she stops, looking bewildered.

She does have love bites, but they’re completely different in character.

Our little meanie got that way when the only boy kitty moved in. But it’s been two years fercrissakes. Get over it!

She’s somewhat better than she was, but there’s definitely something wrong with this one. We’re still crazy about her, though.